Can paid ads affect where you show up in the search engines like Google? I’m not talking about PPC ads on Google, because those do show up on Google of course. And paid Google ads will not affect your organic ranking on the search engines. The quality of your SEO on your website can affect your paid ads on Google, but that’s another article for another day.

Let me back up a bit. I got an e-mail from a friend of mine, Anna, who has a busy wedding and portrait photography business (she took my profile photo that I use). She’d been paying for a small ad in one of the local online yellow page listings. Her ad was coming due to renew, and she said she didn’t want to have the paid ad anymore. The rep told her that if she didn’t renew, that it would adversely affect her rankings on Google. She e-mailed me asking if that was true, since it was “only” $42/month ($500/year).

Will Paid Ads Outside Google Affect Your Ranking?

In short, absolutely not. It won’t help them if you have them, and it won’t hurt them if you don’t. It may affect traffic, but that’s the nature of paid ads. You turn them on, you (hopefully) get more traffic. Turn them off, the traffic goes away.

The bigger picture here is that what that sales rep said is blackmail. The rep from the company was trying to play on her fears to coerce her into signing up for another year. Utterly shameful.

Don’t ever let a sales rep blackmail you into paying for anything. Get the data first (not from them) and if it feels like coercion, it probably is. I had a review site once try to sell me on their package, and if I didn’t sign up, some of my reviews might disappear. I said, “Go ahead. Hide all my reviews, and now stop calling me.”

To be clear, I have NO problem with paying for ads. It’s a legitimate way of generating traffic. However, measure it to make sure it’s working for you, and not just a place to flush money down the hole.

So Let’s Get Analytical Here

Let’s say you’re running a paid ad on some platform, either Google, an online magazine, or a yellow book ad. Are those paid ads generating traffic, and much more importantly, are they generating business for you? Remember, traffic doesn’t sell anything.

I took a look at Anna’s Google Analytics. I set the date range to the last six months, then I navigated to Acquisition -> All Traffic -> Referrals on the left-hand side (you can do this in your own GA account). I wanted to see where people are coming from when they click a link to go to Anna’s website. Is having a paid ad on one of these listings worth the money or not?

So for the previous six months I found the following data:

  • Referral clicks from = 0 clicks
  • Referrals from = 3 clicks (and one left after seeing one page – 33% bounce rate)
  • Referrals from = 2 clicks (and one left – 50% bounce rate, which is worse)
  • Referrals from and = 1 click each (no clicks from the USA site!)

Anna needs to decide if the $500/year is worth a measly number of clicks she’s getting, since a good percentage are leaving after the click (thus no business!). She needs to review any other paid ads she’s running too, like on any wedding sites or catering sites to make sure they’re delivering.

The lesson here? Buyer beware, and if you have the hard data, the charlatan sales reps don’t have any wind in their sails – they’re just blowing hot air. Don’t let them have any power over you.

What experiences have you had with this kind of thing? Tell me below in the comments.