Does Participating In Google AdWords Help My Organic Rankings?
Today’s post is about an old question I’ve heard come up a few times lately: does participating in Google Adwords help my organic rankings? Purists will say Google’s AdWords and natural search results are church and state. That is true in the sense that “AdWords advertising has no impact on your organic or natural ranking in the search results; the two are completely separate” – Google. So the straight answer is that there’s no preferential counseling or better rankings given when you buy in to AdWords. However, most marketers will concede that the most robust search programs are those that integrate natural and paid under one cohesive operation; they’re opposite sides of the same coin.
Here is a brief rundown of the ways in which Google AdWords impacts or helps direct clients’ organic search results:
- A 2012 Google study concluded that 50% of the ad clicks that occur with a top rank organic result are incremental, compared to 100% of the ad clicks being incremental in the absence of an associated organic result. From an SEO point of view, this means that, if you match a paid AdWords placement with a #1 organic result, you will keep roughly 50% of your AdWords spend for that keyword through organic clicks. From a SEM point of view, the benefit of running both together is that the brand would have lost 50% of clicks if they had only the pad ad or #1 organic ranking alone. This number does go down drastically as you consider #2-4 organic rankings but the intrinsic message is that complementary organic rankings can reduce AdWords spend and, conversely, AdWords spend can pick up incremental traffic when organic rankings are low.
- A 2009 NYU study has shown that, when a brand has both an AdWords ad and a high ranking organic result for the same keyword, metrics, like conversion rate, go up for both channels.
- A 2007 study by Enquiro shows that there’s a 2.2x lift in aided brand recall when the brand has the top paid and top organic ranking.
- Jumping off from these statistics, we know that we can conduct studies of AdWords traffic patterns to determine good natural search keyword targets (e.g. if we see that “Brand X bedding” and “Brand X sheets” are doing well in AdWords, we should adopt those as SEO keyword targets.)
- Similarly, we can use Google AdWords ad copy as a test bed for high-conversion language to use on organic landing pages. It is much easier to A/B test copy via paid rather than organic.
- Now that Google has confirmed that organic keyword referrer information is soon to be 100% encrypted (“not available”), one could also say that Adwords is impacting natural search by becoming a good data source for intelligence on that removed data.
- Finally, the most obvious way the channels impact one another is by helping a brand control their brand’s visibility and reputation on the Google search result page. Rather than control only the organic or only the paid real estate on the SERPs, why not claim more by running both? If you have negative PR to combat, why not push it down the page by running a paid ad? Your brand’s visibility will go up and your competitors’/detractors’ will go down.
In short, while you cannot buy your way into better organic rankings via AdWords, a digital marketing campaign that leverages both channels is more than the sum of the individual parts.