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Does paid advertising influence organic (SEO) results?

As we have seen in a previous post, SEO and paid advertising are two different tools you can use in order to reach the same goal: to get more traffic and increase conversions on your website.

Although they work differently, can they influence each other’s results?

One theory suggests that the use of paid ads may directly influence your rank in organic searches. This is based on the logic that Google would give extra encouragement and boost those websites who also pay them through the Google Ads service. Yet, that link between paid and organic marketing is not that straightforward. It also goes against the principles that make Google the unbiased search engine that it is today. In an article on their official ads platform, Google explains this thoroughly.

The indirect link between paid and organic results

That being said, there are other obvious inter-connections between paid ads and organic search rank, due to the factors these tools work with.

  • Increased CTR (Click-through-rate)

The click rate is a measure of relevance and one of the most important factors in search engine algorithms. Having ads with high CTR will help increase the general click rates for your landing pages, which can marginally raise their rankings in SERP (Search Engine Results Page). If your website is fairly new and little known, struggling somewhere on the second page of the SERP, it is difficult for it to get clicks from searches. That sucks, right?

But if you are simultaneously running a paid ad campaign that gets you on the first page, and your ads are well written and relevant for the search queries, you may well get some clicks. Furthermore, if, subsequently, the users tend to spend some time on your page and, maybe, look around, this sends a message that your page is relevant. This will positively impact the rank of your page and domain.

Therefore, you can indirectly help organic results through paid ads, if you manage to get good CTRs.

  • Trustworthiness

When you are trying to promote your website, you are in the process of building trust, not rankings. When users do a search query and see that your website shows up in both the paid area of the SERP and the organic area, it sends the message that your presence there is not an accident and that the website is trustworthy. So, having paid advertising can also increase trust and clicks for your organic link.

  • Later engagement

According to this post from MOZ, there is a higher chance for users who have seen an ad at a given time to return later to the initial search and engage with an organic link:

“So if you see that many people have searched in the past, they have clicked on a paid ad, and then later in the organic results they see that same brand ranking, they might be more likely and more inclined to click it, more inclined to engage with it, more inclined actually to convert on that page, to click that Buy button generally because the brand association is stronger. If it is the first time you heard of a new brand, a new company, a new website, you are less likely to click, less likely to engage, less likely to buy, which is why some paid exposure prior to organic exposure can be good, even for the organic exposure.”

  • Changing the area above the fold

The content above the fold is what users see on their screens before starting to scroll. This area is different, depending on the size and resolution of the device used to browse. The above the fold is, of course, smaller on smartphones and larger on desktop screens.

Why is this important?

Because, on average, most of the time spent on a website is above the fold. According to research from the Nielsen Norman Group, 57% of all user attention is directed to the area above the fold, while 17% of it is spent in the area immediately below the fold.

This works more or less the same for the SERP (search engine results pages). The more space the paid ads take up above the fold, the less space there is for organic results. Especially if the ads also come with ad extensions, there is a good chance for organic results to be pushed below the fold. This leads to lower CTR’s for them, which will affect their overall ranking.

So there are at least 4 ways in which paid advertising and SEO are connected. Bidding for a place in Google Ads can influence your SEO efforts. Make sure to check your website’s progress and try to understand how users reach you and what their patterns of behavior are.

To learn more about your website traffic and performance check all our advertising articles, check this post on what is referral traffic and why is it important and check these  tips on how to boost your traffic!

This page was updated on: 04. December 2018 - 11:00