There aren’t many industries where a nerdish man wearing a panda t-shirt and talking about algorithms can rouse a lot of heed and in some cases even some trepidation. But in the search industry (and in the wizarding world) such a powerful man does live and breathe.
Matt Cutts, Google’s tireless spam cop, has released a new video where he discusses about the connection between the paid and the organic search results as a response to an “important” advertiser (as he defines himself) complaining he doesn’t receive SEO advices on his AdWords account.
Although at first he doesn’t answer the question directly, Cutts gets straight to the simmering point and says that there isn’t any algorithmic organic rankings boost if you buy AdWords ads. The geeky wizard goes on and emphasizes that it was always Google’s policy which they have reiterated over and over many times throughout the years.
After making it clear that there’s a complete separation between the search and advertising teams, Cutts affirms they don’t want to prioritize advertisers/clients/partners even in terms of nothing more than a bare support. The video ends with a clear message to all those “important” advertisers looking for the royal treatment:
…we would like you to go through the exact same support channels that anybody else on the web would have so that there’s no appearance of impropriety or anything along those lines that people think someone is getting special treatment in that way.
As Cutts stated, this isn’t the first time Google invalidates speculations about advertising to improve organic rankings. Here’s another video of the counter-spam cop from August 2011, in which he yet again punctures this corrupted conspiracy theory:
And here’s another declaration for the detachment of ads from the organic results from “Facts about Google and Competition:”
we maintain a strict separation between our search business and our advertising business and we do not give any special treatment to Google advertisers. Our view is that if Google offers the best search results, in the long-run people will continue to choose to use Google over other search engines.
But in spite of all those statements, that didn’t stop Google from transforming its free vertical search engine, Google Product Search, to an entirely gigantic AdWords section. Google will argue that it’s not their core search engine, but rather just a auxiliary vertical search service, which I guess it’s fundamentally true. However, that’s still makes you somewhat disturbingly contemplate about the future…
Even though Google solidly disqualifying any mere suggestion for ads-for-rankings, many doubts about those claims have been raised over the years. For example this discussion on Digital Point forum from 2008, or this discussion on SEO Forums from 2010, or this discussion on Warrior Forum from this month (October 2012).
Personally, I haven’t saw any proof that buying ads has a direct impact on the search results and I have no reason to believe there is such an algorithmic signal. I do believe though that buying ads can improve rankings indirectly: people visit a website after clicking on an ad and recommending (linking) it for others, which can obliquely improve the site’s rankings.
Anyways, I also don’t think Google would risk such scrutiny from the FTC for even slightly violating its search engine recommendations from 2002:
any paid ranking search results are distinguished from non-paid results with clear and conspicuous disclosures;
the use of paid inclusion is clearly and conspicuously explained and disclosed; and
no affirmative statement is made that might mislead consumers as to the basis on which a search result is generated.