Does Adsense and Adwords Influence SEO?

I think it's a question that many of us have asked ourselves at some point. The short answer is very simple: a priori no, but in fact yes. The long answer is the one I want to address in this post.

I am aware that I am not the first to discuss this topic but I find it interesting to share my experience in this regard and explain what we have observed working with real projects over the past few years. Let us begin:

Does Adwords Influence SEO?

Not directly, and also I think it would be illegal in half the planet if Google applied organic bonuses for hiring paid traffic. That means that if you hire Adwords it will not improve your positioning directly or automatically.

Indirectly, things change. An SEM (Adwords) campaign is a way to attract traffic and gain prestige or brand recognition. The visits you get could come back in the future and do it at that time with an organic brand search. In this case, you may be improving your user response, which does have a positive effect on SEO. It could also have other positive effects of all kinds, but always indirect. Summarizing:

Adwords does not improve your SEO directly, but you can do it indirectly if your SEM campaign improves the user response or some other SEO aspect.

What it will never do is be harmful (Adsense could, however).

In fact, we can apply this to other forms of advertising or promotion. When a brand is advertised on television or in other media, it usually generates an improvement of its CTR, either because it generates brand searches, or because it is remembered in keyword searches.

As is often the case, Zalando is once again a reference: it is advertised on television, street signs, banners, Adwords, Facebook, etc., and this generates visibility that ends up having a positive impact on SEO.

Does Adsense Influence SEO?

Here the thing changes and the answer may not be what you expect. It is often said that "You can subtract but only if you pass" and that is part of reality but there are more scenarios. Let's see it and start with the one that generates the classic debate:

You abuse and Google penalizes you
If you abuse Adsense and show very aggressive ads Google can penalize you for Adsense and for organic.

That is, you can disable the ads on your page but it could also penalize you at the SEO level. Even sometimes it puts a name (or rather we put it) to the changes of its algorithm in that sense.

One of the best known was Ads Above the Fold (unofficial name) of 2012, where you directly suffered a penalty if the first and almost only thing you saw when entering your page was Adsense (see definition of fold).

The last update that seems to be related to this topic has been named Fred (also unofficially) in honor of a joke that Gary Illyes made in a twit. This update, in addition to dealing with content quality issues, punishes pages where Adsense represents a significant amount of content.

The important thing in my opinion is not the updates with own name, but to know that Google pursues the abusive Adsense and treats it as a sign of poor quality. I think that the fact that every now and then highlights one in particular is just to remind us that you are watching this.

With that data, the decision belongs to each developer, since a more discreet Adsense usually generates less income.

Next scenario:

You abuse and the user penalizes you
There are certain ad configurations that Google does not algorithmically penalize, especially if they are below the fold. But that does not make them pleasant to the user.

If the Adsense is very annoying, a user could "bounce out" of your portal generating negative user response. So:

A very aggressive Adsense can be detrimental to SEO if it generates negative user response.

In this sense Adsense would play a role similar to the design or usability of your page. If the user moves at ease for your page, it is very possible that it ends up generating positive signals that Google can read. If it flees, it will be the opposite.

The opposite case to this, not very frequent, would be the following:

Adsense improves your positioning
Yes, surprising as it may seem, this scenario can occur.

Recall in the first place what I have tried to convey with a good number of posts on this blog: Google does not measure quality, nor user satisfaction, because it can not. What it can measure is something very related but not identical. It can measure signals and try to match them with what should be a reaction of a satisfied user to a quality content. We could say that:

Google tries to measure quality, but can only measure signals.

The set of these signals is what I call user response.

And why do I say all this? Because sometimes a certain Adsense can generate positive signals without this corresponding to the quality of the portal.

When does this happen? When the ads shown are so attractive and correspond to what the user is looking for, they have a very high CTR (Adsense). This causes the bounce rate to go down and for Google to believe that your page has satisfied the user (in fact it is true, but for the Adsense).

In the case of a Micro, when this happens to us, we call it pitch, since we have a very high Adsense CTR and a higher traffic than we deserve. Definitely:

If the Adsense reduces the percentage of bounce of your portal of your organic traffic, it can improve your positioning.

And now to complete:

Adsense does not influence your positioning
It is the most usual case. If you do not abuse or have an especially attractive Adsense, the most common is that it does not have an effect on your positioning.


Adwords can only indirectly influence SEO, as can any other action that generates user response, and only for the better.

Adsense can influence both directly and indirectly, for the better (very unlikely) and for the worse.

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