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Do Ads Affect SEO Performance?

Man using a laptop to check SEO reports.

Posted on 02/01/2019 at 08:30 AM

You might be wondering how advertising and Search Engine Optimization are related. It’s a complicated question, or answer, rather. 

SEO experts have suggested that starting a Google Ads campaign can boost your SEO performance, but according to Google Ads Resources: “Running a Google Ads campaign does not help your SEO rankings, despite some myths and claims.” 

Now I’m really confused. How can we have Google saying one thing, experts suggesting something else? Wouldn’t Google want to prioritize clients paying to run Ads over those without paid campaigns?  Like most things in life, the answer isn’t as straightforward as we’d like to think. So what’s the real truth?

The Truth About Results

Part of the problem is that we’re trying to link SEO and Google Ads in too directly. We should keep in mind that there may be a relationship between Google Ads and SEO performance, but that relationship isn’t DIRECTLY related to an improvement in search engine ranking. 

It’s a fact that Google Ads are prioritized, or shown at the top of search results pages and therefore ahead of organic search results, but that doesn’t mean that your website’s other pages or campaigns automatically move ahead of other non-paying ones. What we’re really meaning to say is that Google Ads and SEO are two different operations that often work together to achieve increased traffic and visibility. 

Other Variables

Another thing to keep in mind is that a user’s interaction with your site is not always singular, nor is it always linear. That is to say, user interactions don’t happen all at once and the interactions can come from multiple sources. Most of the time, a user conducts a search and after a few hours returns to a similar or equivalent search. If a user sees an ad on the initial search and doesn’t click it, they are far more likely to click the ad upon a second or third search, assuming that they recognize your site, product or brand. 

The best SEO regarding organic listings is almost always trumped by paid ads. It’s the recurrence and convenience of these ads that acts as an introduction for a user to see your brand and then actually enter your site through an organic listing at a later time. So chalk this one up as a win for branding. 

What’s the Verdict?

If the goal of SEO is to increase web traffic and web presence, then Google Ads is doing a lot of the same thing. With Ads, you are certainly paying for more traffic, but that’s not the only thing you’re getting. Assuming your cost-per-click is reasonable enough for your budget and your conversions are paying off, then brand awareness and visibility are nice unintended consequences of your Ads campaign.  

Simply stated: Run the Ads for their own goals but don’t give up on your SEO. 

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