Q and A: Can running a PPC Campaign affect my Organic Rankings?

Question

Dear Kalena…

I was wondering if you have an active ppc program if this hurts you in natural search optimization since your paying for keyword placement. Why would Google/Yahoo rank you high if your already paying them lots of money. I tested this by pausing my Yahoo ad for 1 month and sure enough my keywords are all on front page when beforehand they were are pages 3-5. Too nervous to do with Google since we spend a lot per month.

Billy

Hi Billy,

This is a topic which has been much debated over the years, but the short answer is No, running a PPC Campaign will have no “direct” impact on your rankings.

People have speculated that using PPC might improve your rankings (as a reward by the search engine) or – as you’ve have suggested – decrease your rankings (presumably to encourage people to click on the ads).

It should be very easy to test, and many people have tried to prove it one way or the other – but I am unaware of any conclusive proof.  Even though your test seems to suggest a correlation between your PPC and organic rankings, you only appear to have done a part of the test.  In order to prove the correlation you would need to turn on and off your PPC campaign over an extended period and track this against changes in your rankings.

In my opening sentence above, I emphasized that there is no “direct” effect, because running an aggressive  PPC campaign could in fact have an indirect impact on your organic rankings – in a couple of different ways :

  1. By running PPC you will get extra traffic in a shorter amount of time, and the data that this generates can help you to tweak and improve factors that can influence your organic rankings.  For example, through using a broad range of keyword phrases on your campaigns – and by looking at the impressions you get, you will get an idea of which phrases are being searched most often.  You should also be able to determine which keywords are converting better.  By focusing your optimisation efforts on high volume and higher converting phrases, you will boost your rankings and your sales or enquiries.
  2. Running PPC will also raise the visibility of your brand and your site. You will be getting extra visitors – and if they like what they see they are likely to link to your site.  This in itself will also improve your organic rankings.

Andy Henderson
Ireckon Web Marketing

Q and A: Does a copyright date on a web site affect SEO?

QuestionHi Kalena

I was asked a question recently that I wasn’t sure about regarding SEO. How much does a copyright date on a website affect its SEO? It would make sense that an updated copyright date would say ‘this site has updated content’ to the search engines. But does not having a copyright date, or having an outdated copyright date have a negative effect do you think?

Thank you!
Amy

Hi Amy

I’ve not seen any official post about this from Google or otherwise, but my understanding is that a copyright date has no impact whatsoever on SEO.

Anyone can add a copyright date to a page as part of the text or coded in as a HTML comment, whether that date is accurate or not. But for search engines to accurately measure when a page was first published or has since changed, they rely on comparing different cached versions of it, not on what a webmaster includes as a copyright date. It would be too easily manipulated otherwise.

Search engines also monitor domain registration details and change of ownership details to gain a more accurate knowledge of web site history.

Tweet and Ye Shall Find (on Google and Bing)

Both Google and Bing have announced agreements with Twitter this week to ensure Twitter updates are included in their search results.

Bing has already launched a Twitter Search tool (it’s still quite buggy at the moment) and judging by their blog post about the subject, it seems Google aren’t far behind.

This is a significant step for the major search engines, because it means users are closer than ever to experiencing real time search. From Bing’s announcement:

“The idea of accessing data in real time has been an elusive goal in the world of search. Web indexes in search engines update at pretty amazing rates, given what it takes to crawl the entire web and index it for searching, but getting that to “real time” has been challenging.

The explosive popularity of Twitter is the best example of this opportunity. Twitter is producing millions of tweets every minute on every subject you can imagine… Search needs to keep up.”

How fresh and relevant the Twitter search functionality will be remains to be seen, but as Danny Sullivan points out in his post today, Twitter’s own tweet search is a lot fresher than the tweets that the search engines are currently dishing up, so they have a long way to go.

What’s more interesting to me about the Twitter search deals is how it will impact SEO. Webmasters will start using Twitter to get their freshest site content indexed by the search engines. Companies that haven’t created Twitter profiles to date may find themselves outranked by their competitors who do.

I’d also expect to see a lot more Twitter spam as people start to realize that tweeting is a fast ticket to the top of the search results. Hopefully the search engines will be able to react to this with some hefty spam filters.

Q and A: Should an SEO Company Optimize Competing Clients?

Question
Dear Kalena…

Are there any issues with an SEO company taking on clients which are competitors? Who will get ranked highest is strategic marketing info passed on to competitors?

David

Hi David,

An excellent question.  Most “professional” SEO companies should be able to take on clients that are operating in the same niche – and are therefore essentially competitors – without there being a conflict of interest.  I have done this on a number of occasions but are careful to let both clients know of the situation (and seek their acceptance) before taking on the second client.  This could actually be beneficial to both clients as it may present opportunities to share resources and possibly even links, and help give them both a boost in relation to the rest of the market.

Any professional SEO should be able to compartmentalise each of the clients activities, and should not be “sharing” details of strategies or activities with any other clients anyway – whether or not they are competitors.

The client site that ranks highest would usually be the one that is prepared to put more effort into their optimisation strategies anyway.

Under certain circumstances – if for example it is a very tight or competitive niche, or if the clients are direct competitors, it would probably not be a good idea to take on both clients – but in these cases the original client would probably object to it anyway.

Andy Henderson
Ireckon Web Marketing

[Editor Note: It really is a personal choice. Some SEO clients will refuse to work with an SEO firm if their competitors are already being optimized by that firm. Others will seek out SEO companies that already have clients in a particular industry.  Personally, I would never knowingly take on two companies that are in direct competition with each other. I also make sure I'm not performing SEO for companies that are targeting the same keywords and phrases as I think that's a blatant conflict of interest - Kalena.]

Thank you Derek Powazek, but…

So last week, Derek, you decided that Search Engine Optimization ( SEO ) was worthless and persons who perform SEO were evildoers.

Not surprisingly, the SEO industry was outraged. Some bared their teeth and responded in kind. Others tried to reason with you and calmly deconstruct your criticisms.  All of us were offended on some level and felt the need to defend the industry, me included.

This week, you seem to have had second thoughts about your rant and you’ve posted an apology of sorts on your blog. This is to be commended Derek, thank you and I’m pleased you finally seem to understand why you were wrong to isolate an industry. BUT, you tarnish the apology by accusing us of being too defensive and not doing enough to clean up the industry.

You say:

“I ask the good SEOs: What are you doing to clean up your industry? Perhaps if you did more, you wouldn’t have to endure the regular bleats of frustration from people like me.”

As Shari Thurow and Jill Whalen state in the comment thread, we write articles. We speak at conferences. We publish blogs and newsletters that educate webmasters about *good* SEO.

I run this (unpaid) agony aunt column answering newbie questions about anything search engine related. My latest post even warns a reader against taking up the services of a scammer (calling himself an SEO) claiming to be able to put a site onto the first page of Google within 24 hours.

I tutor students in 44 countries in SEO via an online educational institution that I founded specifically to educate confused webmasters. And yes, web design, usability and copywriting are featured as key components.

In other words, we’re doing our best.

Derek, you end your *apology* with:

“If someone tells you that your hair is green, the only reason to get defensive is if it’s true.”

Another reason to come to the defense of our industry is when it is wrongly labelled. If we didn’t care about our industry’s reputation we wouldn’t bother to try and correct assumptions and stop the spread of misinformation, right?

As one commenter stated in the *apology* thread,  we felt we needed to clean up YOUR view of the SEO practitioners out there so it didn’t propagate the myth that SEO is evil. It’s just another way we’re trying to clean up our industry as a whole, as you are suggesting.

What more would you have us do?