Many things are considered when an architect designs a golf course. Elevation, undulation, trees, water, length, angles, and more all establish how a hole and an entire course should be played. In this sense, a golf course and a SERP (search engine results page) are quite similar. If you do the things that you are supposed to, you’ll be able to navigate the course with a successful score. This means accurate driving and good putting on the golf course, and likewise, it means search engine optimization and content creation on your website. Now there are other factors that can seem to influence the difficulty of a golf course: newer, bigger drivers, wind, technologically advanced golf balls, playing from closer tees, and more can all, in theory, make the game easier. But the fact is the original design still dictates your strategy, and there is no direct correlation between these variables and the difficulty or ease of the course. This is also true when it comes to your website’s organic rankings and the impact that Google AdWords does, or doesn’t have. Simply put, if you tee off with your brand new driver on the first hole, it doesn’t mean you’re going to win The Masters, and likewise, if you spend a million dollars on AdWords, your organic rankings aren’t going to shoot to the top of the page. However, there are ways that paid search can influence the organic landscape.
Organic search results and paid search live in two separate silos. One does not directly impact the other, although there are some indirect things that the existence of paid ads can do to influence the performance of your organic listings. However, it’s important to understand that these are based on searcher behavior, and not any variables in the search algorithm.
Searchers May Choose an Organic Link after Seeing an Ad for the Same Site
The appearance of your ad at any point in time can plant a seed in a searcher’s mind. So whether they click or not, this experience could influence a future click on your organic links. Research shows that the first time someone is exposed to a brand they are less likely to click, but as they continue to see your content, whether its organic or paid, they will be more inclined to visit your site.
Paid Ads Change the Geography of the SERP
Google’s ad platform has a defined home on any search engine results page. This includes real estate on the top and bottom of each page. It used to also feature the right-hand column of the page as well; however last year Google removed those ads. Also in an attempt to leverage the power of mobile, Google is also featuring more local and insightful information. All of these changes have altered where the organic results reside, depending on the query. While a top organic position is still incredibly valuable, now that spot may live under the ads, then under a map, and next to PLAs (product listing ads). Again there is no direct correlation between the ads and your organic listing, but this is another example of how the AdWords platform, as well as other elements on the page, can play a role in the existence of your organic results.
Exposure to Paid Ads Can Increase Links, Mentions, and Shares, Thus Enhancing Organic Rankings
Organic rankings are largely fueled by page and domain authority which is improved by growing the number of links you have back to your site. As more people see any ads which you may be running, this exposure can encourage them to explore your site and link back to your content from their site. This is a roundabout way where, even if they don’t click on your ad, that it pays off and you can receive an indirect benefit for your organic efforts.
So while there is no direct correlation between AdWords and organic rankings, there are some indirect influences that can exist. Much in the same way that driving a golf ball longer can make a hole shorter, if you don’t do the other things well, it won’t improve your game.