There has always been controversy and miscommunication around the topic of Adwords and its impact on SEO rankings. At least once a month, we have a call with a client who says,” I heard that you could pay Google, and they will increase your rankings.” or “We use Google Adwords, and our Adwords rep is going to change our SEO rankings.” – to which we explain those are just not true.
There were (and still are) digital marketing conspiracy theorists that believe if you give Google your money by purchasing ads through their Adwords program, magically, your website will start ranking or rank better in the organic search results. It’s not true that because you buy Google Adwords, your SEO will improve, well, mostly not true – as with most things that go on in SEO, there is some truth to every statement.
So Does Adwords Impact SEO Rankings?
Let’s start by defining ranking signals. There are two types of ranking signals – direct and indirect.
Direct Google Ranking Factors are factors that have been shown to have a statistically significant impact on rankings.
Indirect Google Ranking Factors are factors that show a correlation with ranking. Still, due to a lack of data, they can’t be definitively defined or categorized as a direct ranking factor.
Much like social media’s impact on rankings, which is indirect, Adwords has a similar indirect correlation. Let us explain what we mean.
How Adwords Impacts SEO
In its simplest form, any type of link-building activity (influencer outreach, social amplification, using paid media, etc.) is all about exposing your content or notifying users that you have a piece of content on a particular topic is contextually relevant to them. It is then up to the user to determine if the content provides enough value to link to it from their blog.
With that said, if you buy AdWords, you will be exposing your content to additional users or influencers who then have the chance to read it, and if they feel so included, link to it. Getting this link is what impacts SEO rankings, not simply using Google Adwords.
The good news is that this SEO myth seems to be talked about less and less each year. The bad news is that due to the complex nature of the ranking factors that Google uses, there will always be SEOs or business owners who claim facts such as “I started using Google Adwords and my SEO rankings increased.”. These myths are usually rooted in weak correlation data and not reliable, statistically relevant causation data.