how ppc and seo relate to each other

We’ve been getting this question quite a bit lately: Does advertising in AdWords and other pay-per-click (PPC) search engines help with organic search results, aka search engine optimization (SEO)? The quick and easy answer to the question of how PPC affects SEO is that it doesn’t, but it gets a bit more complicated than that.

Google will tell you that “advertising on Google has no impact on your organic or natural ranking in the search results; the two are completely separate,” and there is no reason to question this.

The basic thinking is that Google doesn’t want to reward advertisers with higher organic search rankings/traffic because that would end up delivering a worse search engine results page (SERP) for its users. It would basically mean that you can pay Google for higher organic search rankings, which goes against their company philosophy:

“Advertising on Google is always clearly identified as a “Sponsored Link,” so it does not compromise the integrity of our search results. We never manipulate rankings to put our partners higher in our search results and no one can buy better PageRank. Our users trust our objectivity and no short-term gain could ever justify breaching that trust.”

PPC/AdWords doesn’t have any direct effect on your site’s rankings.

The links that come from the ads are “nofollow”, meaning Google does not count them for SEO. Generally, links pointing back to your site will positively influence your organic search results, but when they are part of a paid campaign, those links use “nofollow” to tell Google “Don’t follow links on this page” or “Don’t follow this specific link” (more on Google’s stance on paid links).

What Are Organic Search Results?

Your organic results are “free” listings and appear differently in the search engine results page than paid advertisements.

Google search engine results page (SERP)


The box in red contains organic search results. The ads above, below, and to the right of the organic results have a yellow ad box; however, Google AdWords recently removed their right sidebar ads. Analyzing your PPC and SEO traffic results will help you discover new keywords for your SEM campaigns.

Although it is clear that your PPC ads won’t affect your organic listings, there are still valuable insights to be gained from running pay-per-click ads. The wealth of keyword insight you gain from your PPC reports will help you choose better keywords for your SEO strategy.

3 Benefits of Using PPC and SEO Together

  1. SERP Visibility – Some people might consider getting rid of their PPC ads if they are already showing up in the #1 position of the organic search results, but this is often a big mistake. Regardless of the fact that organic results receive more traffic than PPC ads (94% SEO compared with 6% PPC), PPC placement often takes up the first 3 listings and generally only “cannibalizes” about 10% of clicks. In other words, “this means that a full 89% of the traffic generated by search ads is not replaced by organic clicks when ads are paused.” Read the full Google study here.
  2. Handle Bad Publicity – A good way to combat negative PR is to create PPC ad campaigns for certain keywords (in conjunction with SEO). For example, if you have received bad press for something, you can use a positive story emphasizing your role in improving business practices, as BP did during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
  3. Social Media Advertising – Social media is getting more and more complex. By placing tracking pixels on your PPC landing pages, you can effectively retarget your audience on Facebook and other social media sites.

We have found that running SEO and PPC campaigns together will give you greater click-through rates (CTR) for both. Many times, customers will click on your PPC ads and get distracted or leave the page only to revisit your site through organic search results.

Also, customers who recognize your company in the PPC ad section will be more likely to click on your ad over a competitor’s. Extended PPC campaigns increase direct brand searches, which is the best type of web traffic. The perceived value of your brand increases when you dominate the PPC and SEO portions (including map listings, on-site and off-site SEO) of the SERP. Learn how content marketing has replaced extinct SEO strategies.

So, How Does PPC Affect SEO?

Not a lot, but PPC does help your overall online presence by increasing exposure in your local markets, which leads to an increase in branded searches and direct traffic to your website. These are not direct benefits, but rather residual benefits from your online advertising.

If you have PPC ads, map listings, and organic results showing up for your keywords, then you are dominating the search results, which will have a collective effect. When you use all the internet marketing tools at your disposal, you can create a very strong and professional brand presence that eclipses the competition, especially if there are 2-4 mentions of your company in the search results.

It’s pretty simple human psychology that if you see something show up 2-3 times as much as something else, it comes across as being better than the rest. You are judged by your appearance, but that can’t happen if you’re not there. Be seen.

One other thing to keep in mind is that by advertising on PPC (or anywhere else for that matter), you increase the likelihood of someone typing in your URL directly into the search bar, known as “direct traffic.” This is the best kind of web traffic because it means that the user already knows you and is ready to schedule service from your business.

Keep in mind that Google maintains a strict separation between their search and advertising businesses.

SEO is a long-term strategy that requires a lot of time and effort; PPC campaigns can produce a lot of good leads and exposure right away. You should be doing both.

Additional Information on the Relationship Between PPC and SEO:

Start Competing. Track Performance. Get Results.

If you have any questions about how PPC and SEO can work together or would like to know more about our approach to search engine marketing, give VitalStorm a call at 972-961-7380.

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