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Does Google AdWords Affect SEO?

You’ve wondered about it. We all have.

People used to view Google Adwords as an “SEO tax”. They felt strongly that running PPC ads helped their SEO.

So, does the use of Google AdWords impact search engine optimization (SEO) efforts?

Whether it’s superstition or anecdotal evidence, many people believe that it does, while others may tell you that the two are very different tools that don’t relate. What’s the truth?

In most cases of a Google AdWords vs SEO debate, companies will want to take on both methods, using them for different purposes and benefiting from both. When you work with a digital marketing agency, you’ll likely see recommendations for both. Let’s break down what the facts are here.

Google AdWords vs Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Google AdWords, Google Ads, pay-per-click ads (PPC), or whatever you call it, is an online advertising platform developed by the super search engine as a way to create and display ads in front of interested customers.

We’ve all seen them in the search results. They’re the listings with the little “Ad” box beside them at the very top of the results.

Advertisers set an ad budget and bid on the keywords they wish to use within those ads. Those who win the bid, which is based on the cost of the keywords used and the quality score of the bidder, end up having ads shown in various locations online, including Google Search, apps, and other sites.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a completely different tool. SEO is another way to get your business seen on page one of Google. It is the use of keywords and other strategies implemented within your website to help attract the search engines to it.

With SEO, you’re not paying for advertising but rather having keywords placed strategically on your site so that the search engines see the value of your site for those keywords. Done well, SEO helps your website to be listed at the top of the search engine results pages. Unlike an ad, this is a type of organic marketing tactic.

So, what’s the difference between Google AdWords vs SEO?

Google AdWords:

·     You pay a fee to have an ad displayed for your product or service.

·     Your ads are placed in front of highly targeted potential website visitors and customers.

·     You only pay for an ad when someone clicks on it.

·     The goal is to have people get to your website to learn more, buy, or take some other action.


·     You research keywords that people are likely to type into the search engines to find the products and services you are looking for.

·     The goal is to rank on the first page of Google’s search engine results page (SERP) so people see your site and click on it.

·     You do not pay for keywords, but rather the process is based on Google’s algorithm as well as how prepared your site is for ranking.

·     By using the best keywords, you should attract highly interested buyers to your site.

How to Pick Which Is Best for Your Business

Knowing the differences between these two marketing methods, you may be unsure which one is best for your company. In short, both can be equally beneficial in that either can drive traffic to your site and customers through your digital front door.

You may wish to focus on Google AdWords when you want to start generating visitors to your site right away. Often, Google AdWords is a faster way to boost traffic initially because SEO takes more time. Adwords is definitely a sprint where SEO can be a middle-aged jog (although some middle-agers are faster than others depending upon the industry).

Also, Google Ads allows you to promote your website and business outside of just a Google Search. That’s because ads can show up on many sites that are a part of the Google Display Network. That network includes thousands of sites across the web. More so, you can choose which sites you want to display ads on and which you do not.

In fact, you can set up your Google Ads campaign to stand in your customer’s shrubbery. Sometimes, the ads seem to follow them like a creepy stalker, but this helps with multiple touch brand awareness.

There are those out there that say that every website owner should focus on search engine optimization marketing, but this really all depends upon the industry and the actual websites. We tell people all the time not to pay anyone for SEO because their website would simply not convert for a variety of reasons.

This isn’t always the case for Google Adwords since all you really need is a landing page that appropriately reflects whatever the ads are about. For example, a plumber might run ads for “water heater repair” and connect those ads to a landing page about that topic vs running the ads to his homepage.

The best questions to ask yourself when trying to decide between the two marketing tools are:

How quickly do I need customers?

Adwords starts working for you as soon as the campaign is live whereas SEO takes longer to get your business seen

Does the math work for both?

This question is about the potential ROI for either tool. For example, if you sell a product that is $50 and you’re spending $1000/month on Adwords, you’re starting the month in a pretty big hole whereas if your product or service costs $1000, you only need one customer from Adwords to break even, two to make money, etc.

This same logic applies to SEO as well.

Can I (Should I) do either one by myself?

Over the years we’ve been doing this, we’ve talked to a lot of people that have tried SEO or Google Ads by themselves. While both can be very technical, we find that with DIY SEO, the most people waste is their time whereas, with Google Adwords, people have complained about losing a lot of money.


Myths About Google AdWords

So, the question still remains. Google AdWords vs SEO – Does your use of Google AdWords impact your placement in SERPs?

Google has said numerous times that the use of pay per click, or PPC, does not impact your site’s placement in the search engines. They are as clear as they are about anything that an Adwords campaign will not affect your SEO at all.

Yep. That’s what they say alright.

But, Google has also said that traffic to your site is an SEO ranking factor. In other words, the more traffic that goes to your site, the more Google sees your site has value which means they are more likely to display your site more in the search results.

Let’s break down some of the myths related to Google AdWords and SEO

Myth 1: You Can’t Generate Backlinks With Google Adwords

Backlinks are a vital component of good SEO. It is just very challenging to develop them. Backlinks are links on other websites to your site. This is something Google sees as very valuable when determining SERP. It is not about the number of links you have but rather the quality of them. The more authoritative the domain linking back to your site, the more valuable it is to your SEO efforts.

Keeping that in mind, it is possible that when you use Google Ads, someone will click on your website, learn about it, and then add a link to your site on their own website. That means you get a bit of a boost from that act.

The same also applies in reverse. If your website is ranking well in the search engines, someone may click on your link who is looking for valuable information and then place a link on their site to your site.

While running a Google Ads campaign shouldn’t be the first thing you do to generate backlinks to your site, it can be of some assistance.

Myth 2: Google Ads Don’t Help with Organic CTR

Your click-through rate (CTR) is a valuable component in determining just how well your website is performing at any given time. This is a determent of how many people see your ad and click on it. It impacts both SEO efforts and PPC.

For example, when your website is ranking in the search engines, your heading and meta description is going to encourage people to click and visit your site if they are optimized. Likewise, your PPC ad is going to – hopefully – entice people to click on your ad.

If you are getting a high CTR, this is one indication that your ad copy is getting the attention of the right people. Use that same formula and process on your website’s meta description and page title to get people to your site from the organic listings. You can learn from what’s working to apply to other marketing strategies.

Also, organic CTR is a critical factor, thanks to some algorithm updates (Rankbrain). It is possible to rank high enough in SERPs and still not have a high enough CTR. If that happens, it’s likely that your website will begin to fall in the results pages. That’s because Google wants to be sure your website is providing the information people actually need. Without a high CTR, you’re not hitting the target well enough.

Myth 3: Remarketing Doesn’t Help with SEO

Google Ads offers remarketing opportunities that should be considered. Retargeting ads are a way to show very specific targeted ads to those people who may have already visited your website. By placing ads in front of them for your website, it may be possible to get them back to your site again.

That means that retargeting can help you to recapture non-converting organic visitors. This can help with brand recall. The more they see ads to your site, the more they are going to learn about and remember your brand over time. That way, the next time they do a search, your website is going to be more familiar to them.

Again, getting people back to your site not only helps convert them to customers, but it increases the traffic to your site which is a ranking factor for SEO.

Myth 4: Both Don’t Work Together

There’s no doubt that both Google Ads and SEO are valuable tools that you need to use to improve your website’s function. The two can work together to support your ability to meet the needs of people looking for the product or solution you offer. In short, you need both.

Let Us Help You Today

Make It Loud is Google Certified to run advertising on Google and offers everything you need to optimize your marketing efforts. As a digital marketing firm, we can incorporate effective strategies that help your business’s website to get both organic and ad-focused traffic to it. Contact us today to learn how we can help you.


author avatar
Cliff Tillery COO
Cliff Tillery, MBA is the Chief Operating Officer and SEO Director at Make It Loud which is a digital marketing firm located outside of Atlanta Georgia. More than 15 years ago, he started search engine optimization at this award-winning agency and has taught digital marketing skills to interns and new employees, business owners at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, the Gwinnett Entrepreneur Center, and other groups.
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