5 Ways Google Adwords (Paid Search) Does and Does Not Affect Organic Results
Let’s get one thing out of the way.
Paid search does not have any kind of direct impact on organic search.
Google is very clear about this.
But there are some key ways paid search has an indirect effect on organic search that does not get talked about a lot.
- Searchers are more likely to click organic results if they also see an ad.
Studies have shown that searchers who see a high ranking organic search result near an paid search result for the same brand are slightly more likely to click through to the brand (via either result). It is not a major difference, so we have to take this with a grain of salt – or we have to weigh the cost of achieving and maintaining the organic ranking along with the cost per click and any management fees associated with a paid search campaign versus the benefit of the slight uptick on your overall business.
- Previous ad exposure makes searchers more likely to click to and convert.
A searcher seeing a search result for a business for the first time is less likely to click, engage or buy from that business. This is why it pays to get some paid ranking early in the game. Putting a paid search campaign ahead of or even at the same time as the start of your comprehensive organic search campaign is a smart strategy – it gives you instant exposure, and drives brand impressions which can prove useful once your organic rankings start to climb the charts.
- Organic results are losing click-share to paid results.
This is a big one and is pretty much tied to Google’s change in showing paid search results directly above organic search results on both mobile and desktop. This means that ever since Google moved the paid results from off to the right side, where they once were, to the top of the page, a significant amount of click share has been diverted away from organic results and to the paid results. This was validated in a recent study by the Wayfair SEO team. So having both paid result and organic results, a lot of brands are able to offset this change in link share.
- Visits from paid search can lead to stronger signals for search engines.
Here is one that often gets noticed after the fact. If you have a paid search campaign running and driving traffic to your website filled with only the best content the web has to offer or course, the after effects that take place such as social mentions, sharing and links to your content pages are all going to serve to send strong signals to Google that your page is very relevant to the topic at hand. This of course means a boost to your organic rankings! If you have some great shareable, engaging and informative content, paid search can get the traffic to it that will in turn give it the love it deserves, and then Google with in turn, do the same. The same thing occurs when you use social advertising like Facebook ads to drive your target audience to a great article. With that in mind, if the key terms you are bidding on to drive paid search traffic to your content is of the more expensive variety, it would be wise to funnel those ad dollars into Facebook ads to achieve the same result. Google does not care where the interacting traffic came from, just that the traffic is interacting with your content in a meaningful way. See which paid visit is costing less and use that one.
- Paid search can create a market where there was none before.
This one is more of a reason not to go into paid search in tandem with your organic campaign, at least not without doing some research first. If you have strong organic search results and then start bidding on key terms in a space that had really no competition, you will get some very cost effective paid search results. The cost-per-click will be quite low and you will gain all the above mentioned benefits of running it in tandem with your organic search efforts. But good SEO teams are always watching the competition. Once they see that there is someone bidding on key terms and therefore paying to rank ahead of everyone else in that space, they will surely follow suit. The result will be an increasingly competitive market where there was none before! Click costs will surely increase and you will be inviting a whole lot of competition to the top-of-page ranking party, pushing your strong organic search results below allow of them. Now of course it’s probably just a matter of time before your competitors start bidding for position to top your strong organic results anyway. But you can always react to that once they do so. Let the competitor blink first because until they do, your top organic results will rule the market.
Google will not favor a business that run Adwords by giving them better organic search results. But there are some indirect yet meaningful ways a paid search campaign can affect your organic search campaign. You have to look at a lot of different factors before deciding whether or not to run paid search in tandem with your organic search efforts including your budget, the ompetitiveness of your key terms, and visitor value, just to name a few.