If you are using Google Ads does that mean Google will rank you higher in its organic search results as well? Let's talk conspiracy theories, common sense and everything else!
A lot of people out there claim companies who spend big with Google ads also get bumped up the organic search rankings. A kind of hidden pat on the back for giving Google lots of cash. Google, of course, denies it completely.
Sure there are plenty of examples out there where you can see a company advertising, scroll down a little and you also find them in the organic search results below. Is this the hidden hand of Google at work?
I don't buy into this conspiracy theory at all and I'll explain why.
First off search is a competitive market. If people start seeing poor search results on Google they're going to drift off to Bing or Yahoo or Duck Duck Go. If someone does this a few times and always gets better results over there than on Google they're going to stay over there.
Google knows that and its not going to risk losing its market share for a few bucks of short term cash.
Google is so focused on this that it will even stop showing your advert if it sees it doesn't engage users, no matter what you offer to bid. So it is equally focused on quality ads as it is on quality organic search results. Both have the potential to undermine its status.
So how come companies that rank well also advertise? Because it has been shown to be a very effective way of getting visitors. Even if the user scrolls part the advert they have still seen the brand name. When they get to the organic results and see the brand name again there is a subconscious "I've seen that name before" flag that makes them more likely to visit the organic results. I know, my agency link2light does this for a lot of clients.
This isn't Google bumping people up the search results, its companies making a conscious decision to advertise where they know they already rank. The two are connected but not in the way that conspiracy theorists imagine.
Eh? You're thinking. I thought we just debunked that myth? Bear with me.
Let's start with the less controversial line of thinking which is just common sense. Ads are about making people aware of your content. If no one is aware of your content then no one is going to talk about it. Of course if your content is rubbish you can make a lot of people aware of it and their still not going to talk about it but lets say you've created some awesome content.
Advertising makes people aware of it, some people will link to it, some people will mention your brand name, some people will spread it on social media and that will bring more people who then might also link to it or talk about it and so on.
Advertising is what gets the ball rolling and all those actions your happy visitors take are SEO factors - links, brand mentions and so on. SEO factors that will improve your rankings in the organic search results.
So did Google Ads improve my rankings in the organic search results in that example? Yep, they certainly did!
Now of course it doesn't need to be Google Ads, you can use any type of content marketing like Social Media or Blogger outreach. I'm just making the point that Google Ads is an option but if you believe what I am about to say then its one of the better options.
Now where I am about to go is not universally agreed in the SEO industry. You could say it was one of my conspiracy theories based on years of personal experience.
When you create an advert on Google Ads and that advert has been running for a while Google gives it a quality score based on how well users react to it. Do they click on it, do they stay on your landing page for a long time or do they pogo stick back to the search results in seconds.
Now I contend that they compare this with the pages from other websites they have in the organic search results for that search term and see if your landing page pleases internet users more.
To me this is just common sense. If you were Google and someone started advertising an article about "Best cheeses for toasted sandwiches" and everyone who clicked through to see the article never came back to the search results then as Google you've got to be thinking "That must be some cheese article".
If way more people did this than on any of the websites in the organic results then as Google you have an absolute yard stick to say "That article that's being advertised is so much better than what I have in my rankings" and you're going to bring it in to your top ten. If you want to give your users the best possible search experience (and that's what Google claims it wants to do) then you would be mad not to.
But Google denies it uses click through rates or dwell time as ranking factors and plenty of people take them at their word. Plenty of others though, including myself, believe Google spreads a certain amount of misinformation to throw scammers off the scent.
You can come to your own conclusions about this but ultimately making the right people aware of great quality content - and that's where focused use of Google Ads comes in - will get you the kind of responses, say backlinks, that will improve your organic rankings.
With Google Ads - or Bing Ads - you're getting instant traffic while doing blogger outreach may take time and may end up costing more if you're outsourcing the work with no guaranteed result.
I'm not talking up Google Ads or talking down great link building techniques - I have no affiliate connections with Google Ads - I'm just saying weight them up.
No, I don't believe this theory that websites which use Google ads get pushed up the rankings and especially if they spend a lot. This is 'stalks bring babies' thinking. Yes you can often see a connection but correlation in not necessarily causation.
Do I think using Google Ads to promote great content will lead to higher organic rankings. Definitely because those visitors from the adverts will do things that are SEO factors like creating backlinks.
And from my experience it also gives Google user behavior metrics fast which help it conclude your content is better than that of your competitors, pushing you up the rankings. In terms of content marketing in order to get better rankings this gives Google Ads the edge over other methods.
I'm Tim Hill, a Search Engine Optimization and Online Marketing specialist. I created this site to help others understand that SEO is not a mysterious black art!.
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