Is the use of Google ads a ranking factor in organic search?

Does using Google Ads paid ads affect visibility in organic search? This issue has been hotly debated over the years.

My name is Ivan Zhdanovich, I am engaged in client website promotion in the CIS, Europe and the USA. More than 10 years of experience in client projects and today I would like to consider the impact of Google advertising on its search results.

Let’s take a look at why people think this is true, and whether Google ads can actually help you rank higher in organic search.

Claim: Google Ads as a Ranking Factor

This idea stems from a persistent distrust of the mega-corporation Google. Therefore, it is often assumed that if you spend money in one unit (in this case Google Ads), you will get advantages in another (Search).

Evidence That Google Ads Are A Ranking Factor

From time to time, SEO specialists appear who share anecdotal evidence of a drop in ratings due to the shutdown of Google Ads campaigns.

But this is exactly the case – there is no evidence of causation here, and the anecdote in the plural is not data.

In early 2021, a member of the search marketing community posted a series of tweets in which he accused Google of not only using spending on ad campaigns to influence organic search rankings, but also trying to extort money from business owners.

In one of them, she wrote:

I don’t know yet how to handle the fact that Google has just verified one of our clients. Basically, they were told to spend more on paid ads to improve organic search for their brand.

As expected, chaos ensued. Those who believed that Google Ads / organic ranking was second to none were jubilant in appreciation. SEO pros shook their proverbial fists into the sky of Twitter.

Google tricked us again!

Others have argued that this is impossible; that the meaning of the sales rep’s message was lost in translation.

In response to a question, she stated that this was not a misunderstanding and that a Google Ads sales rep even sent in written confirmation that increasing ad spend would improve organic brand rankings.

Was Google caught smoking a gun accepting money in exchange for rankings?

Evidence Against Using Google Ads As A Ranking Factor

Google’s Danny Sullivan became aware of the aforementioned conversation and has unequivocally denied any connection between the two:

Google Ads Tweet from Danny Sullivan
Google Ads Tweet from Danny Sullivan

This is not surprising as Google has long argued that there is no connection between advertising and organic search.

Matt Cutts dispelled that myth in a 2014 video, calling the continued insistence that Google (then AdWords) ads are in any way linked to organic search results a conspiracy theory:

“… there are many myths about SEO. One of the biggest we hear all the time is,” If you buy ads, you rank higher on Google. “And there is the opposite conspiracy theory:” If you don’t buy ads, you will rank better on Google. “

And it seems to us that we should bring these two camps of conspirators together and give them the opportunity to fight. And then whoever leaves this room, we can just debunk this conspiracy theory. “

Another conspiracy theory, he said, is that Google is changing algorithms to get people to buy ads.

“We want to return really good search results to users to keep them happy and come back. That’s basically it.”

Most recently, John Mueller raised this topic through the Google Office Hours program.

One viewer revealed that he noticed a drop in rankings for a specific keyword when he started running Google Ads, and the rank returned when he stopped advertising.

Mueller explained:

“… These systems are completely separate on our side. Advertising ranking and search ranking are completely separate systems, and there is no real connection between them.

… So the rating change that you saw looks like it has nothing to do with advertising. “

Google Ads as a Ranking Factor: My Findings

Google is a huge organization capable of separating the two.

Moreover, allowing ad spend to influence organic rankings will undoubtedly lead to less rewarding results and a poorer user experience. This is contrary to everything else Google tries to do with search.

You may not believe everything Google says.

But in this case, I believe that over the past 20-plus years, we would have seen much more concrete evidence that you can simply buy your way to the top of the organic search rankings through advertising.

Everything is clear here: Google does not use Google Ads as a search ranking signal.

What’s more true about Google: The placement of Google Search Results Pages (SERPs) clearly emphasizes ads (traditional text, Shopping, Hotels, etc.).

Therefore, while buying ads is not a factor in organic search ranking, Google ads can affect your site’s visibility and SERP placement.

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