My Theory on Paying for Traffic After Ranking Well for a Website



u/theTRUTH4444

My theory on paying for traffic after ranking well for a website.

I've often wondered if there's a little more to the Google rankings than meets the eye.
I've got a few sites and one has been ranking on the first page for many years for several search terms.
I then used Google adwords to send paid traffic to the site with one of those adwords vouchers. The next thing you know my natural rankings and traffic went down, as though Google wanted me to pay for having people on my site.
I stopped using adwords after 8 weeks and my natural rankings came back 2 months later.
It was as though once I started paying for adwords, Google decided to drop my natural traffic. Like a drug dealer getting someone hooked with a free sample of drugs, knowing they'll be back later for more.
Has anyone experienced anything similar?
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jesustellezllc
It might just be a coincidence. Adwords does not, or at least it should not directly affect SEO. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on the other hand does contribute and play a factor in AdWords.

darkmeatchicken
that is the official word, but Google is notoriously black box about this. If this is true, It would likely open them up to anti-trust charges. But nobody has access to the actual algorithm.
I will say, this pattern holds for some sites manage and also have a large and slowly growing ads spend for. I always wrote this behavior off as unrelated and a coincidence. Would love to see one of the big SEO research companies do a study about this.

theTRUTH4444 ✍️
100% this answer.
Thanks for backing me up.
Yes, this would damage Google massively if it were found out to be true. The other theory that works hand in hand with this is:
That Google deliberately bounces sites around the rankings to make SEO difficult. This would also stop you being able to check my main theory out about a rankings drop after paying for adwords.
I've worked for a few businesses and they all have their little cheats and ways of getting more money from the consumer.
One company I worked for used to double charge and see if it got noticed.
Ozymandia5
But this is just a conspiracy theory based on anecdotal evidence, and plenty of people have documented the opposite (Google Ads drive better organic rankings) giving rise to popular conspiracy theories about 'pay to win' ranking algorithms.
Our industry is notorious for this kind of thing, but I think it's important tk remember that we don't know what we don't know. We can speculate, sure, but nobody here is going to uncover 'the truth' by looking at a minute data set.
TurnInToTrackOut
I've had the 'pay to win' thought cross my mind when thinking about amp pages and mobile-first indexing. Although amp pages are free to my knowledge, it would make sense that Google would want to encourage and incentivize businesses to use their amp services.

F5_Studio
From my experience it is a common case. But Google isn't cause of this problem.
In most cases, the problem is a low organic traffic. For example, if your site attracts 100-200 valuable visitors per day, it is a low traffic. When you launch an online ad, some your potential visitors (who might have moved to your site from the organic search) move from your online ad. Also, some people, who see your advertisement, prefer to visit another site. Young people (16-35 y.o.) have little confidence in the ads. But old people click on online ads more often.
Online ad campaign isn't a problem for large companies, well-known brands and sites which attract over 1000 valuable users per day. You can check server log files to exclude bot traffic.
Online advertising is a good way to attract traffic to a new website, but it is too expensive way. It is a bad way if you want invest $100-300 in ad campaign to get 10-20 clicks.
Anyway, it is just my guess from my experience. 10 years ago one of our Pay Per Click (PPC) specialists felt that way.

poundchannel
This makes sense, if your organic Click Through Rate (CTR) goes down, then your rankings will drop
Ozymandia5
Assuming that you're bidding on the same keywords you're ranking for, otherwise there's no real way you could cannibalize your traffic like this.

RoyOConner
In my experience, it's pretty common for PPC folks to bid on the big organic search terms.

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InSummaryOfWhatIAm
But won't your site ads show up in the search results above the organic link?
As in, Google didn't tank your traffic, but indirectly that became the effect of people clicking on the ads instead of the link to the site in the regular search engine results, which obviously would mean less organic traffic.
I'm not 100% on that but it seems reasonable that your Google ads campaign meant that people googling for keywords related to your website came to the ad first and clicked that above the link that might be on the first page but not at the top of it. So the ad kinda cannibalized the organic traffic? Then when you stopped advertising your site the traffic increased because people came to your site through the results instead of the ads.
KingOfTheBongos87
One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that Google rankings are determined, in part, by how many people click on your listing to begin with.
So if you're #3, but you're receiving more clicks than #1, Google might say "Hey, let's move this listing up a spot."
In your case, if your ads are the only ads running for a keyword, that means fewer people are clicking on your organic listing, and Google might try and change up what's on Page 1.
ModernKamikaze
If your bidding is high enough to get your ad placed at the top 4 placements (above organic results) they're more likely to be clicked.
I don't think it's Google getting you hooked, but just a natural result of turning off ads and relying on your organic rankings.
Source: I do this for a living.

FourierEnvy
From the OPs description, its really hard to tell if he/she is paying for the same traffic as was coming in organically. If the same keywords are being paid for, of course the organic traffic is going down, you're paying for it at the top.
However, if its an entirely different set of keywords being paid for and the organic traffic for OTHER keywords goes down, that's a very different story and something to be alarmed by.

theTRUTH4444 ✍️
This. I find as soon as I paid for adwords. I had a small drop. Then it dropped alarmingly when I didn't pay for adwords for a few weeks.
I think some folks would panic at this point and start their ad campaign up again. I didn't, I just watched what happened.
I'd like others to try it.

theTRUTH4444 ✍️
Shame you don't read things properly for a living.
My post has nothing to do with your response.

ModernKamikaze
Okay, my bad. Can you explain further? Are you targeting the same keywords you're ranking for in Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

gsquaredb
since Google makes all their money off paid ads and not organic traffic wouldn't it behoove them to do this? I compete with someone that is the same size, location ,business etc. We have paid ads and they don't. They beat us in all organic traffic by a lot. Can never figure it out.

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pm_me_ur_stem_cells
I run a local, seasonal business that deals exclusively with college-aged customers (so, Gen Z). For the longest time I never bought CPC ads, and relied entirely on our (very dominating) organic search presence. We did quite well.
Then one year I noticed that a competitor was buying Google ads for our brand name, so I panicked and started heavily investing in Cost Per Click (CPC). My reasoning was that he was "outranking" us for our own brand name, and potentially causing people to click on his site when they were in fact looking for us. And you know what? Maybe they were. But clicks don't demonstrate intent to convert.
I ended up spending thousands of dollars on CPC for a business that barely makes $30k a year. I even started counter-bidding on his brand to try to even the playing field.
This year I finally started measuring conversions properly. And what I saw from the data is that the overwhelming majority of our conversions come from either 1) organic search or 2) CPC search from returning visitors. I'm not sure if CPC is directly affecting rankings, but it seems pretty clear that a paid conversion from a returning user is simply cannibalizing organic conversions. My theory is that the returning users searched our brand name and then clicked our ad out of convenience, since it shows up above our organic result. But the intent was very clearly to get to our website one way or another.
Although we got a not-insignificant amount of conversions (20%) from CPC search from new visitors, the actual conversion rate is abysmal compared to the other groups. And how many of these supposed "new visitors" are really people discovering us for the first time? Many of them are likely to just be the same people on different devices, returning to our website to complete a conversion.
I also noticed that our conversion rate for searches on our competitor's brand is very low. Again, this is telling me that my customers are largely brand-aware by the time they are actually ready to convert. Combined with the fact that my customers are Gen Z and tend to balk at search ads (or block them outright), my impression is that PPC is just a very expensive way of gaining a tiny sliver of brand awareness at best. At worst I am damaging the authenticity of our brand with Google Ads, which by their nature just look scammy.
Omni52
I sensed the same with another one of the top platforms.. I feel compelled to drip feed ad spend to safe guard against this possibly paranoid belief. With Google Ads though, we stopped due to Google dismissal of our long standing 'business category confusion'. Google humans would say "Sorry", but couldn't train their own Google Bots to leave us alone..For 3 years we wrestled with that beast…Nowadays I personally get 4/5 so called Google Ads Partners calling my private number and business pw.
I always offer respect to cold callers having started out life as one. So i end up explaining my story with G-Ads as the caller bangs on about how he/she is somehow different and belts out example company names I ain't heard of..
The sheer desperation in the caller(s) tone, and the willingness to take the job like they hadn't even heard what I'd said, is quite incredible
SEOPractical
Everyone want to earn money weather it's Google or whoever it is. If you already rank higher on Search Engine Result Page (SERP). Then paying money for visitors will be useless. Try to divert traffic from other competitive keywords where competition is high enough to invest.

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