Will paid search help my organic search rankings? Maybe

It’s not uncommon for businesses new to Adwords and SEO to embark on an Adwords campaign hoping that it will improve their website’s organic search rankings. Even in the world of Adwords professionals, theories occasionally surface that a paid search campaign is improving organic search results.

SPOILER ALERT: We’re going to cut to the chase on this because Google is reasonably clear that the two, paid search and organic search, do not have a direct connection. In other words, no matter how much money you give Google for your Adwords campaign, it won’t get your website on to the first page organically.

So, while you can’t pay your way to that #1 organic rank, it doesn’t mean that having an Adwords campaign has zero effect on your website’s SERP appearance; it’s just that the effect is indirect.

Hey, haven’t I seen you before?

There is a phenomenon known as the “mere exposure” effect, also occasionally referred to as the familiarity principle, that says, basically, that the more you see, hear, or taste of something, the more you like it. This principle applies to online searches too.

Because Adwords shows your brand with higher frequency and consistency, your brand changes from an unknown to a known quantity, and with that familiarity comes positive perception and the increased that likelihood that users will return to your site organically.

Think of this as a happy byproduct of your Adwords campaign, but not the reason for the campaign.

What is Google AdWords and Why Do I Need It? | Disruptive Advertising

I like you. I really like you! (Mentions, backlinks, and social shares)

Google prioritizes websites that provide a satisfactory user experience for their target audience, and shared content is a strong signal that your site delivers. If your ads direct visitors to landing pages within your website that are well-designed and organized that also contain useful, compelling content, then you’ve created an excellent opportunity for your content to be shared. Provide great content and a good user experience, and both your audience and Google will reward you.

And now for some bad news

How bad it is, depends on your vertical. You’ve probably noticed that certain verticals have ad-heavy search results. For example, the search “auto parts” yields a results page with only minimal real estate given to organic results.

It wasn’t always this way though. Ads used to appear in the right margin of the search results, and when they appeared at the top, they used less space and were easier to identify. It isn’t a reason to not have an Adwords campaign, but it is something businesses should keep in mind.

The Moral of the Story

There are actually two.

  1. If you really want to improve the organic rankings for your site, work on creating great content that will resonate with your target audience. After you’ve done that, make sure that your website presents in a way that is appealing to visitors. Then be sure that you are doing all that you can on the back end of your site so that Google can easily crawl it and index it.
  2. When you undertake an Adwords campaign, be clear about what it can do, and have well defined KPIs to help you measure performance.

If it sounds like a lot (it is!) and more than you have time or inclination to think about, find a marketing partner who specializes in this area. Not only will they make your life much easier, you will also get better results.  Well, we specialize in this area…so, feel free to reach out and contact us!