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When we use AdWords Our Natural Rankings Drop
When we're not using it we rise...I don't get it...

 2:41 pm on Apr 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

I've never seen anyone mention the phenomena before, and again this morning we dropped 2 spots...

We started using adwords about a year and a half ago. At that time our ranking was "good" (just good, not great).

As we used AdWords, I noticed us slipping, after about 150K worth of AdWords payments, we decided to hold off for a bit...during this time, we dropped to 94th position (ouch!)

we stopped for 2 months, the site began to rise again...we actually began to get where we needed to be (page 1)...after about 3 weeks...

So...about a month ago...we startup AdWords again..and we begin to drop in the SERPS...again..

it's more than frustrating.... I have several sites, been doing SEO for about 8 years, and have great placement abilitys...however this site, is totally making me crazy...

A thought:
1 - several MFA's pick us up, we get credit for the inbound links....are we being penalized due to the link from possibly a "bad neighborhood"?

2 - If G can keep you down in the natural serps you would "have" to keep on paying them to stay up there..it would make "money" sense to keep you down...
(I suppose there would be some class action if you could prove it was happening)

I can't make any reason out of this, at all...

I've called G, spoke with our rep...
that was zero help...not that I expected any real help in this area...

Any ideas or thoughts would help greatly...
thanks for letting me rant!



 4:10 pm on Apr 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

I recently dropped adwords for a couple of terms that were not producing very good ROI. These terms also were not well placed in the natural results. Since that time my widgets have begun to rise to the top. I have no answer for you but I suspect that visitors that click on ads don't stay onsite very long and Google may give your site a slight penalty for these short visits? BD has me baffled!


 4:36 pm on Apr 28, 2006 (gmt 0)


IF Google uses click-thru data in their ranking algorithm
AND IF your ads were "stealing" clicks from your natural listings
THEN PERHAPS that could be a way that Adwords could drop your rankings.

This hypothesis is testable. Pick your best keyword, make sure your next AdSense campaign never shows any ads for that keyword, and see if you drop again in the listings -- but not for that keyword.


 4:42 pm on Apr 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

The official word from Google is that there is no relationship between AdWords and the organic search results. And although in isolated cases there may seem to be a relationship, the theory doesn't hold up over large amounts of data.

So I believe Google's official stance on this. It would be suicide for them to establish some automated connection between the two.

There is an easy to make logical pitfall known as "post hoc ergo propter hoc" or "after this, therefore because of this". Establishing a cause and effect relationship takes more than that kind of temproal observation. And even with huge amounts of data, there's still a difference between correlated data and establishing true cause and effect.

However, if you have a theory about cause and effect in a given case then all it takes is one counter-example (where the other variables are controlled) to disprove that theory. When you manage large AdWords campaigns and also monitor natural listings for the same words, it quickly becomes clear that there is no correlation between AdWrods and the organic SERPs. So cause and effect is also ruled out.


 4:24 pm on Apr 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

The official word from Google is that there is no relationship between AdWords and the organic search results.

True, and probably this case is just an effect of random variation.

But, it certainly looks likely that searcher behavior is factored into rankings along with a great many factors. And searcher behavior certainly can be affected by ads that do or don't appear along with the natural listings. Since Google has no way, in the general case, of knowing whether website X with a natural listing is owned by the same person as website Y, with ads displaying on the same page with X's listing, it seems possible that there can be cases where AdWords can affect organic search results in ways that Google did not plan.

Ironically, the more effectively Google keeps AdWords data separate from the organic search ranking, the more likely it is that this unintended interaction is possible -- to prevent it, the ranking side would need to share data with the AdWords program!


 4:29 pm on Apr 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

Don't confuse the OP's name with mine..
You can tell he's not me because i could never affort 150k of AdWords!


 5:10 pm on Apr 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

I know a site (USA) that ranks #1 in many and highly competitive keyphrases (more than 200,000,000). And it runs an AdWords campaign simultaneously.

When you query a certain combination of keywords, you see the site both as the #1 sponsored result (i.e., above the organic results), and at #1 in organic results.

This always puzzled me. That is to say, why they spend thousands of dollars while they are always at #1 in organic results.

The site is so "immune" to tweaks in algo that it always survived all updates, and maintained its top (#1) position. I monitor this site since last September, and always seen it at #1.

I do not know if it is against the TOS to post the query string. But if not, then I can post it as an evidence.


 1:47 am on Apr 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

I do not know if it is against the TOS to post the query string.

Not the TOS [webmasterworld.com], selomelo, but it is against the Forum Charter [webmasterworld.com]. Each of our forums has a charter for policies that apply more locally. However, even without seeing the specific query, I can tell you that this is a relatively common practice.

...why they spend thousands of dollars while they are always at #1 in organic results.

Because, for some searches at least, the profit can be there. Sometimes having both listings produces much higher clicks than either one alone can give, or even the sum of the two. It's an interesting effect.


 3:06 am on Apr 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

Honestly, I don't know whether the fact that our pages our dropping out of SERPs is coincidence or part of a strategy to make us use the Adwords more or not, but I do know that to me it is unacceptable to pay for Adwords on a search engine which doesn't even list me in it's index.

I have therefore sent this email to Google a few minutes ago. I'm looking forward to my automated reply!

Because my site is no longer in the natural search index, and I only intended AdWords to supplement regular search, I am canceling my account and will use use Yahoo and MSN instead.

I'm off to checkout the competition now.. I gotta get some traffic from somewhere!


<Sorry, no email quotes - not even your own.
See Terms of Service [webmasterworld.com]>

[edited by: tedster at 4:51 am (utc) on April 30, 2006]


 4:07 am on Apr 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

Wow, snowweb, that takes guts. We've tried everything to get out of the proverbial "sandbox". Our 301 re-direct from an earlier established site apparently hasn't given us any credibility. As a family business that relies on our e-commerce site for income, the famous g quote about not doing evil sometimes seems laughable. Hardworking people who can't afford the high powered seo firms are hurt everyday by g and its mercurial ways.


 4:34 am on Apr 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

Wow, snowweb, that takes guts.

Actually, we're not a big fish, so it's not such an enormous decision for us although, our feeling is that we would apply the same principle even if we were.

Let's see whether we drop out of Yahoo and MSN's index now! (shivers!)


 6:02 am on Apr 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

I have a client that ranks high on his "money" keywords and runs adwords.

The only time he will turn off adwords is when he can not keep up with the shipment of orders.

His return is less on the adwords purchases, but they still provide a respectable margin.

During peak periods, he will shut off the Adwords for a few weeks, and his positioning do not change

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