Google has certainly emerged as the search engine of choice in the past five years or so. Its market share is much higher than search engines like Bing and Yahoo! and some websites that were previously used for search, like AOL.com, have been forced to go in different directions entirely to stay relevant. While AOL still offers a search component, it’s become more of a news source. It’s not surprising. Google has become the king of search. Of course, there always seems to be a conspiracy theory or two surrounding “royalty”. One such conspiracy theory surrounding Google is whether or not there is a correlation between purchasing Google AdWords and ranking well in the search engine.
This debate has gone on for many years, as evidenced by this blog. It highlights an interesting case study in which a website ranked well while running AdWords but then was kicked back to page four when it needed to add some funds to its AdWords account. Within 24 hours of adding funds to the balance, the site was back to the top of page two of the search result. That blog post was written a few years ago, but the debate continues and hasn’t really changed much over the years. Google is still filled with secrets that we will probably never uncover. Everybody has a different opinion on the matter and there are numerous stories like that one that suggest a correlation.
Of course this obviously isn’t the case for every website. No matter how much money is spent on Google AdWords, Google would never rank a website well organically that wasn’t optimized and didn’t have any relevant inbound links. It would also never rank a bad site that provided a poor user experience. However, if all of the factors that make up a good website are there, it’s a possibility that running Google AdWords could affect its organic page rank.
It’s important to note that the correlation between the rank of your website and running Google AdWords is different from the correlation between the organic success of your website and running Google AdWords. The combination of a PPC campaign and an organic campaign can legitimize your website in the eyes of a website user. Essentially your website is showing up on the search engine results page twice when they type in a query, once organically and once in the sponsored section. To many users, this emphasizes that your website is relevant to what they are looking for and they are more likely to click on it.
My instinct is that it’s of course a possibility that there is a correlation between running Google AdWords and the rank of your website but this is something that will never be proven. Therefore, it shouldn’t even be given a second thought. Since it’s not a proven theory I would never incorporate AdWords into a campaign to help SEO for a client. I prefer to spend my time concentrating on the tried and true tactics that work according to the Google webmasters. What do you think? Please share your thoughts and experiences!