• http://www.modernmsg.com/ Mike

    Isn’t part of the evil genius of Google that they help bloggers make money through Adsense then penalize their rankings in the SERP’s if they put too many Adsense ads on their site?

  • http://www.customerserviceguru.co.uk/ Sophia Wright


  • Martin Crutchley

    “By far, the biggest myth, according to Cutts, is how people think Google makes changes to their search results with the only intent of making more money.” Thats not a myth Mr Cutts, that’s Google’s core business model, long gone are the days when UX was the prime driving force behind algorithm updates, there’s always money at heart of the process. Make SEO harder to justify…force people to adopt paid for advertising and saturate the market, businesses will spend more money to remain competitive.

  • Brook Shepard

    Well I do think that total traffic to a site is part of their algorithm. And I do think that they (Google) can’t tell if my non-Google traffic is paid or not. So there’s that.

  • RyanMJones

    that “Ryan in Michigan” is a smart guy who asks great questions.

  • Andrew Gouty

    The only way Google is monitoring your traffic (and considering said data for rankings) is through Google SERP clickthroughs. Google Analytics data isn’t considered in rankings.

    Total traffic influencing rankings directly is a myth. There might be correlation, but no causation.

  • http://www.keshkesh.com/ Takeshi Young

    The new Google+ post ads seem to cross the line a little. By paying to have people +1 your post, and potentially follow you on Google+, the Adwords ads DO have an impact on organic results, albeit for personalized search.

  • Ashutosh R

    Matt seems down with allegations…

  • Rolando Mendez

    Google has repeatedly said, and demonstrably shown, that it gives ranking preference to “brands”. So here’s the thing, buying ads and advertising are both things brands DO (a signal) and ways to build a “brand”. I would love for someone to show the correlation between sites that buy advertising and sites that don’t for ranking. My guess is that it is a high correlation. That may not be a direct factor in organic rankings, but if you care about SEO seems to me it should be something you should be engaged in.

  • RyanMJones

    that correlation would be flawed. Sites that rank well are usually sites that are doing well. Sites that do well have larger marketing budgets thus can spend more on ads..

    When Google talks about brands, they talk about things like quality, uniqueness, authority, relevance, and trust. Google isn’t saying ‘is this a brand? ok rank it higher.” The’re rewarding the signals I just mentioned. It just so happens that “brands” do a much better job within these signals. Why? Well, because quality, authority, trust, etc are all ways to become a brand. They became a brand because they did these things – just like they rank because they did these things.

  • http://www.thinkgeeks4u.com Hiral Patel

    For some industries Ad words are not best options. Example – Remodeling Company – Search resulted in customers in the early stages of remodeling, while ads placed on industry sites like houzz.com, yelp.com and angieslist.com resulted in more qualified leads who are further along the buying stage.

    We totally do not care about page rank anymore – Ads on industry powerhouses that already rank high on searches and landing pages that users want to see, completed projects in there respective neighborhoods etc. = increase in leads by 80% from any search engine ad words platform.

    Mind you this is the case for just this type of industry.

  • Rolando Mendez

    ALL correlations are flawed, hence: “correlation does not equal
    causation.” But correlations are all we will ever have to go on in the
    SEO world since the only way to really know causation would be to know
    the exact specifics of the engine’s proprietary ranking algorithm.

    someone runs a regression analysis on that factor, it would be exactly
    that, a mathematical correlation. It’s no different than when they run
    the same correlation for exact match domains or keyword in title tags,
    etc. It’s just a correlation. You can choose to believe it plays a role
    in the cause or is just a byproduct of it. That’s the nature of the SEO

    Say you have built a “quality” site, but it has no traffic
    because no one knows about it. You do some advertising, branding, etc.
    and people find that it’s a good resource, they start linking to you and
    your rankings go up. Did you rank because of the advertising? Not
    exactly, but it sure played a part in getting you there!

  • Christian Noel

    While I know and readily accept that whether I buy ads or not has no impact on how I rank Cutt’s assertion that the changes Google occasionally makes to the SERP’s or even to its algo isn’t driven in some part by Google’s want to make more money on ads defies believeability. As SEO becomes more opaque and more difficult to manage particularly for medium to small business PPC ads will become increasingly more attractive. This cannot be lost on those who work at Google.

  • RightTech

    Google may not change their algo to increase ad clicks, but arguably their SERP redesign will yield more ad clicks.

    Just from a simplistic view – previously an Organic listing had about 65 characters shown to searchers, while an ad “title” only had 25 (or at top of page, 60). Now ad headlines are much closer in parity to organic headlines.

    And I know personally that I almost never clicked on Google ads prior to the new SERPs – but since then I’ve clicked a number of times at the top of page when acting quickly, and only as I was clicking did I realize those were ads.

  • http://www.tylerherrick.com Tyler Herrick

    You do go into violation of their TOS, but I don’t know if that hurts your rankings; I would imagine it hurts your ad performance or integrity status…

  • http://www.tylerherrick.com Tyler Herrick

    I would disagree, there is no reliable signal of total traffic numbers. I do believe however that SERP CTR is a signal; it’s kind of a different way of thinking about a (somewhat) similar metric.

  • http://www.tylerherrick.com Tyler Herrick

    I can informally attest to PPC not having a direct effect on organic ranking. I’ve got dozens of clients that rank #1 for ALL their head keyword terms and have never purchased a dollar of PPC. I can also describe clients who spend $2,500 a month on PPC and still organically rank #3-#7. I would say that IF you have covered the SEO basics, a lot of the ranking position comes down to competition.

  • Durant Imboden

    He certainly has a point about the opposing conspiracy theories and the groupthink.

  • Gerry

    we had a targeted AdWords campaign which did not produce at all – we were charged of course and all this supposed traffic came to our landing page but conversions were almost non-existent (Requests for a free travel guide) . I don’t trust Google. nothing really to do with the landing page either.

  • Manzar Mash

    I always find one anomaly when matt cutts or any other SEO guru tries to bust this myth. let me explain. Matt cutts has recently talked about differentiating popular sites from authoritative sites in google’s new algo that they are working on and assign authoritative sites higher position in SERPs. it means, being popular is something that currently contributes to site’s ranking. and what makes you popular? Traffic. and Paid search generates traffic. so paid search makes you popular, thus helps you in climbing up the ladder of SERPs. so aint he making this thing up?

  • http://www.vanschakel.nl/ Joost Derks

    I think that’s correct; I asume that metric is part of way Google handles the so called pogo sticking..

  • Derrick Wheeler

    hi Andrew, How do you know Google analytics and total traffic isn’t considered?

  • Brook Shepard

    Tyler, I agree that SERP CTR is probably a bigger part of the signal/equation than the total traffic I posited. Good comment.

    But I have seen advertisers pause adwords traffic, and seen their natural results – not leads, but actual ranking on top keyterms – drop within a week.

  • http://economicmythsandlies.com/ economicmythsandlies

    It isn’t necessarily groupthink if it is clearly commonsense though. Google has an incentive to discourage people from getting free organic traffic to get them to buy ads instead. That isn’t their only reason, but it clearly has to play a role, regardless of what Matt Cutts is willing to admit.

  • Durant Imboden

    Don’t forget the rival conspiracy theory (also mentioned by Matt) that says people who buy ads will do worse in the SERPs, presumably because Google knows they’re already willing to pay. So you’ve got two conspiracy theories to choose from: Take your pick.

    Or you could simply think like real publishers, who understand what Matt went on to explain: That the best way for Google to make money from ads is to deliver search results that keep users coming back to Google. (So far, that strategy seems to be working pretty well, to judge from Google’s market share and ad revenues.)

  • http://sellaholics.com/ Todd Kron

    I have had tests tell my different, though not perfect. When an Exact match is made to appear to be a proper noun the jump was instant. For the reason that Dr. James R Pepper cant ever win for the search Dr Pepper. It has become a proper noun. I wouldn’t swear to it till I reproduced it though and ill know that in about 2 weeks.

  • http://economicmythsandlies.com/ economicmythsandlies

    LAbeling it as a conspiracy theory is a bit a leap. It is just simple logic. If ranking at the top of Google was really easy, then people wouldn’t have as much of an incentive to buy ads. I am not even blaming Google for doing this. It is not like they are committing a crime or something. They are just trying to maximize their profits, which is why I think people calling that out as a conspiracy theory is a bit much. Frankly, if I was running Google then I would be trying to discourage SEO so I could sell more ads. I think any serious businessperson would. Do you really think that the geniuses behind Google really weren’t smart enough to draw the correlation as well?

    I do agree that they need to provide quality search results. As I said in my post, discouraging SEO to sell ads wasn’t the only reason they were implementing a lot of these penalties. I think the arguments each of us raised both play a big role in their decisions.

  • http://localreachlabs.com/ Russell Hayes

    They must thing every one is an idiot! lol

  • http://localreachlabs.com/ Russell Hayes

    If SERP CTR is a signal then that’s sort of a catch 22 isn’t it. We’ve all seen the heat maps that show where most of the clicks are on the first page of Google’s results page. How does a site get good SERP CTR’s if they aren’t ranking to begin with.