SEO Question: I was thinking about buying Google AdWords and AdSense ads or placing AdSense on my site. Will doing any of these increase my link count, Google rankings, or rankings in other search engines?
Answer: PPC ads go through redirects, so they do not count toward your link popularity, but there are other ways to tie together PPC ads and organic search placement. Search engines claim there is no direct linkage between buying ads and ranking, but they only talk in ideals because it helps reinforce their worldview and help them make more money.
Buying AdWords Ads
What They Won't Tell You:
Highly commercial keywords may have the associated editorial results go through more relevancy filters and/or be editorially reviewed for relevancy more frequently. Also, because they want people to click on the AdWords ads there is a heavy informational bias on the oranic search results.
I know some people who have large ad spends that get notifications of new ad system changes ahead of time, and others who get to give direct feedback to allow them to participate in cleaning up search results and minimizing unfair competing actions in the ad systems. So that is one type of cross-over / feedback that exists, but I think that tends to be more rare, and the more important cross over / feedback that exists is an indirect one.
Just by Being Real
You can't really explain why and how everyone does what they do. Some people who find your product and enjoy it enough to leave glowing testimonials will even tell you that they don't know how they found it.
In the same way that targeted ads can lead to purchases, they can also lead to an increase in mindshare, brand, reach, usage data, and linkage data. Just by being real and being seen you are going to pick up quality signals. If you try to factor all of those into your ad buys most markets are still under-priced.
Cross Over Due to Buying AdWords:
A well thought out pay per click campaign can feed into your SEO campaign more ways than I can count. Here are a few examples.
Integrating Offline & Online:
In a TV commercial Pontiac told people to search Google, and got a ton of press.
Big Controversial Ads:
Mazda quickly bid on Pontiac.
Many companies also have strong ties between the legal and marketing departments. If buying or selling an ad gets you sued and gets you in the news the value of the news coverage can far exceed the cost of the ads and legal fees.
Small Controversial Ads:
When I was newer to the field one friend called me the original link spammer. He meant it as a compliment, and I still take it as one. In much the same way I was an aggressive link builder, I was also quite aggressive at ad buying.
I caused controversy by buying names of other people in the industry as AdWords ads. I was prettymuch a total unknown when I did that, but some of the top names in the industry elevated my status by placing my name in heated discussion about what was fair and reasonable or not.
You can always consider placing controversial / risky ideas or ads against your brand or competing brands as a way to generate discussion (but of course consider legal ahead of time).
Drafting Off New Words & Industry News:
When the nigritude ultramarine SEO contest started I bid on AdWords. Some people discussing the contest mentioned that I bid on that word. If an event bubbles up to gain mainstream coverage and you make it easy to identify your name as being associated with it then you might pick up some press coverage.
Industry buzz words that are discussed often have significant mindshare, get searched for frequently, and larger / bureaucratic competitors are going to struggle to be as plugged into the market as you are or react as quickly to the changing language.
Snagging a Market Position Early:
When a friend recommended I read the TrustRank research paper in February of last year I knew it was going to become an important idea (especially because that same friend is brilliant, helped me more ways and times than I can count, and was the guy who came up with the idea of naming the Google Dances).
I read it and posted a TrustRank synopsis. In addition to trying to build a bit of linkage for that idea I also ensured that I bought that keyword on AdWords. Today I rank #1 in Google for TrustRank, and I still think I am the only person buying that keyword, which I find fascinating given how many people use that word and how saturated this market is.
Buying AdSense Ads
Buying Ads Creates Content:
If your ads are seen on forums people may ask about your product or brands. I know I have seen a number of threads on SEO forums that were started with something like I saw this SEO Book ad and I was wondering what everyone thought of it. Some people who start talking about you might not even click your ads.
Each month my brand gets millions and millions of ad impressions at an exceptionally reasonable price, especially when you factor in the indirect values.
Appealing to an Important Individual:
I have seen many people advertise on AdSense targeting one site at a time, placing the webmaster's name in the ad copy. It may seem a bit curt for some, but it is probably more likely to get the attention of and a response from a person than if you request a link from them.
Ads are another type / means of communication.
Appealing to a Group of People:
I get a ton of email relating to blogs and blogging. And in Gmail I keep seeing Pew Internet ads over and over and over again. Their ads range from Portrait of a Blogger to Who are Bloggers?
Going forward they will have added mindshare, link equity, and a report branded with that group of people. When people report on blogging or do research about blogging in the future the Pew report is likely to be referenced many times.
Selling AdSense Ads
Don't Sell Yourself Short:
Given the self reinforcing nature of links (see Filthy Linking Rich) anything that undermines your authority will cause you to get less free exposure going forward. So you really have to be careful with monetization. If you do it for maximal clickthough rate that will end up costing you a lot of trust and link equity.
There are other ways to improve your AdSense CTR and earnings without costing your credibility and authority.
- AdSense Tips and Linkworthy Content
- Tracking AdSense Ad Clicks by Page and Keyword
- Track Google AdSense Clicks via Google Analytics
Don't Monetize Too Early:
Given the lack of monetization ability of a new site with few visitors and the importance of repeat visits in building trust and mindshare you don't want to monetize a new site too aggressively unless it is an ecommerce type site. It is hard to build authority if people view your site as just enough content to wrap around the AdSense.
Spam, Footprints, & Smart Pricing:
In the past search engines may have discounted pages that had poison words on them. Search is all about math / communication / patterns.
If your site fits the footprints of many spammy sites then your site might be flagged for review or reduced in authority. MSN did research on detecting spam via footprints, and link spam detection based on mass estimation shows how power laws could make it easy to detect such footprints.
Graywolf recently noted that landing page slippage may be an input into landing page and site quality scores for AdWords ad buyers. Google could also use AdSense account earnings or AdSense CTR data to flag sites for editorial reviews, organic search demotion, ad payout reduction, or smart pricing.
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