For businesses operating in the digital age, online advertising plays an important role in any marketing strategy.
The same can be said for search engine optimization, or SEO.
Both digital ads and SEO can help customers discover your business and encourage them to make a purchase.
But what’s the relationship between SEO and Google Ads? Do these two forms of online promotion have a mutually beneficial relationship? Or is it possible to hurt your SEO efforts with certain kinds of ads?
Whether you’re already experienced in online advertising or you’re determined to start running ad campaigns in the next year, it’s essential to understand how SEO and Google Ads work together (or work against each other, in some cases).
Let’s take a closer look at this topic and answer the question: do ads affect your SEO?
The short answer is yes, they can – for better or for worse. Depending on how you use online ads as part of your strategy, you might improve your results or derail your efforts. Here’s what you should consider.
Digital Ads Can Support Your SEO Strategy
By and large, most experts agree that online ads can benefit your SEO results.
It’s typically recommended that you adopt a diverse marketing strategy that involves a number of different tactics. One reason for this is that SEO best practices are ever-evolving. Google updates its algorithm frequently, which means you might experience setbacks from time to time with your search rankings. This can be frustrating when you’ve worked so hard to improve your position in Google search results.
But with Google Ads, you’ll maintain your position as long as you pay. And because SEO and Google Ads are designed to work differently, they can often complement each other to create a better outcome.
Search engine optimization, for example, is meant to build awareness and organic traffic over time. It’s not a quick fix or overnight solution. Instead, it can take several months to see real progress in your rankings, even if you’re doing everything right.
While SEO requires some patience, PPC and display ads may offer more instantaneous results. Google Ads, in particular, are great for driving a lot of traffic within a short period of time. You don’t necessarily need to have a complete website to benefit from PPC, either. Rather, you can promote a product, service, or special offer without any delays. That’s why many experts will recommend that you explore additional marketing options while your SEO campaign ramps up.
PPC and other advertising options also offer even more opportunities to target your ideal customers and gather data to improve your strategy. In fact, running an ad campaign can actually help you get more out of your SEO. You’ll have an opportunity to test keywords with your ad bids, which can give you the information you need for better SEO later on. Ad keywords with higher conversion rates typically translate into more effective SEO.
Text-based ads can even help you improve your content creation for SEO purposes. For instance, you can test a few different ad headings and repurpose what you find when creating title tags for SEO content. In general, you’ll be able to gather data more quickly with ads – and that can take the guesswork out of your SEO strategy.
Remember: running a PPC ad campaign can really increase your visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). Because Google Ads get prime real estate at the top of page one, you can supplement the wins you get with SEO and appear more frequently when searchers look for relevant information online.
In fact, a Google study found that paid ads for brands that also have organic search results typically have higher click-through rates. Even though SEO and Google Ads results are designated differently in SERPs, most users won’t pay much attention to the little “ad” symbol. All they’ll care about is that your brand shows up prominently – so that must mean something good about your business. Not only can this result in a higher traffic share, but it can also improve brand perception.
Speaking of brand perception, Google Ads can also supplement your SEO efforts if your main goal is reputation management. Since both optimization and advertisements help your business appear more prominently in search results, these two tactics can work together to “push down” any negative press. You can also find ways to spin a PR crisis into a positive if you use SEO and Google Ads to target the right keywords.
So do ads affect SEO in a positive way? As long as your campaigns are managed properly, the answer is often a resounding “yes.”
However, there are certain pitfalls of which you’ll want to be aware. Below are just a couple of scenarios wherein your ad placements might have a negative impact on your SEO results.
Poor Ad Quality or Targeting Could Hurt Your SEO
It’s important to point out here that PPC does not directly affect your spot in organic search results. Google separates the two on purpose, as it’s in their best interests to do so.
That said, there are a few indirect factors that can connect SEO and Google Ads. As we mentioned earlier, digital ads that are well-designed and well-managed will usually improve your SEO results. But when ads don’t fit this criteria, your SEO might suffer.
Having an ad with subpar quality can spell disaster for your position in SERPs. First, let’s talk about what this means for Google Ads campaigns.
Your Google Ads quality score is a good indicator of how your ad will perform. It’s a keyword metric based around relevance and estimated click-through rate. Google Ads with lower quality scores are usually seen as having lower relevance and value for the end user.
Why does this matter for SEO? For one thing, an ad with a lower quality score will often cost more to run. Google wants to show the most valuable and relevant solutions for web users. Since irrelevant ads are less likely to be clicked, they’re going to cost more so that Google can make up the cost of running that ad in the end.
When you have to pay more for your ad campaigns, you may have a lower budget left over to devote to other marketing activities. That may mean you’ll need to cut back on on-site and off-site SEO strategies – and that could hurt your ability to appear organically in SERPs.
There’s also a good chance that ads with lower quality scores might hurt your brand reputation. We know that when a brand appears in both ads and organic search results, the ads are more likely to be clicked. But if the ad doesn’t provide what users expect, they’re going to click without converting. Not only will that translate to wasted money, but it could also damage the way a consumer views your business.
That can also be said of ads that feature inappropriate or irrelevant keyword targeting. Targeting the wrong keywords in your ad bids can cause your content to show up in search results that aren’t aligned with your target audience. In turn, that means your ads might not appear when they theoretically should. You might be absent from those searches entirely and miss out on major opportunities.
In addition, you won’t be able to gather the data you need for more successful SEO campaigns. PPC provides you with a way to gather data quickly, but improper campaign setup won’t yield the information you’re after. You’ll be less prepared to start an SEO campaign as a result, which may mean you’ll be learning as you go. And since SEO takes longer to show results, you might not realize your mistake until several months in.
Of course, there are other advertising options besides paid search. But what you might not realize is that improperly managed on-site ads can hinder your progress, too.
Do Ads On Your Site Hurt Your SEO?
We've mainly discussed the connection between SEO and Google Ads, such as PPC. But if you've been wondering, "do ads affect SEO?," you can't forget about the visual ads that appear on your website.
Many website owners and publishers rely on advertising platforms, like AdSense, or programmatic advertising solutions, like header bidding, to place ads on various pages. Rather than the site owner paying a fee every time a PPC ad is clicked, the site owner will earn a bit of money when these ads are displayed or clicked by a visitor. This can be a viable way for site owners to earn an extra income. If you would like to know how much your page could earn by monetizing ad space, make sure to check Snigel's free ad revenue calculator tool.
However, website owners need to be careful about how these ads impact the user experience. Placing too many advertisements on your site can be detrimental to your site's layout and loading speed, which can frustrate many users. They might even leave if your ads interfere with their visit.
In 2021, Google introduced Core Web Vitals as SEO performance metrics that impact your SERP rankings. Core Web Vitals measure how quickly a page is visible, how long it takes before a user can interact with the page, and the visual stability of the elements on the page.
Based on those metrics, Google doesn't favor websites that feature too many ads. Additionally, poorly placed ads can influence your performance. For instance, a site that has ads that appear "above the fold," meaning on the top third of your site, can cause low cumulative layout shift (CLS) and first contentful paint (FCP) scores. Generally speaking, your site should contain significantly more publisher-provided content than advertisements.
Often, it can be challenging to optimize your page for web vitals without consulting a third party or incorporating an ad tech solution developed to deliver high scores out of the box. Snigel has designated Core Web Vitals engineers to optimize your website when using our header bidding stack 'AdEngine'. This way, you can maximize your ad yield while focusing on creating great content. Find out how you can improve your website's Web Vitals and ad setup by contacting us. If you are using AdSense to monetize your site, be sure to follow Google's rules for ad placements to avoid possible penalties.
The quality of placed ads can also impact the user experience and Google's ability to understand what the ad is about. In fact, Search Engine Land points out that too many ads can quickly use up the "crawl budget" for Google's spiders, which are in charge of crawling and indexing websites. If you use up that budget on too many on-page ads, the crawlers will simply give up and move onto another site. That, in turn, can hurt your ability to rank in search results.
What if you don't run ads for other sites? You'll still want to make sure your on-site ads don't hurt the user experience. Frequent pop-up ads or intrusive interstitials (e.g., pop-ups that cover the entire page) are known to annoy web visitors, especially those who use mobile devices. This can impact everything from your bounce rate to the time users spend on your site, which can impact your SEO.
This doesn't necessarily mean that you should never include ads of any kind on your website. But if you do, you should make sure that they're used sparingly, that they're relevant to user intent, and that they're easy to close. This will make for a faster, more mobile-friendly website that addresses most of Google's user experience criteria. With over ten years of industry experience, Snigel's team of ad ops experts can help you find the perfect balance for your website without compromising on page performance. Get in touch to find out more.
How Do Ads Affect SEO? It Depends!
If you were to ask an expert how ads affect SEO in a direct way, they’d probably reassure you that SEO and Google Ads operate independently of one another.
That’s absolutely true. Your organic search ranking doesn’t impact your Google Ads analytics, nor do your ad results have a direct connection to your SEO.
But there are a number of indirect ways that ads can have an effect on your SEO strategy.
As mentioned earlier, display ads can sometimes disrupt the user experience. If they’re seen as being of poor or inappropriate quality, they could scare customers away. Google might also give up on crawling your site if it’s laden with ads. In both of these scenarios, your rankings could be negatively affected.
Pop-up ads can also prove problematic for many users. When they appear too frequently or are designed in a way that the visitor can’t close them easily, this can hurt the user experience and your SEO. In fact, intrusive interstitial ads are one of the factors considered by Google in its algorithm updates, including its recent Page Experience update. These kinds of ads could potentially result in a lower ranking, even if you provide otherwise valuable content.
Even your PPC quality score could have a ripple effect on your SEO. When your ads aren’t seen as relevant or useful, any clicks that you do get early on in your campaigns could damage your reputation down the line. You might also spend too much money running lower-quality ads without enough left over to execute a successful SEO strategy.
But when your ad campaigns are developed and managed properly, they can have an overwhelmingly positive impact on your SEO performance. Supplementing your SEO efforts with paid advertising can allow you to create stronger campaigns, diversify your approach, and promote greater brand awareness.
In the end, it all comes down to the finer details. Do ads affect SEO? Yes, they certainly can – but not directly. If you take the time to educate yourself (or, better yet, work with digital marketing professionals!), you’ll maximize the benefits of using SEO and Google Ads together.