There are many conspiracy theorists when it comes to Google. Being such a huge company, holding a massive market share and gathering huge amounts of data, Google is a target for random theories.
Spending money on advertising makes a business a customer of Google. There have long been rumors that Google treats its best customers better in the organic results than it does the rest of the world.
Not only have they denied any connection, but we have never seen any kind of proof of this effect. I have also come across instances of large advertisers failing to get special treatment.
There is a confusing feature that large advertisers do get account managers on the paid side of Google and can sometimes get access to early beta features of paid search which then roll out into organic as well (such as rich snippets for marked-up products).
Large websites and companies do sometimes get access not available to smaller companies – both to beta tests of new features and to resolve unexpected problems – but we have never seen this tied to advertising spend.
A good online marketing campaign will use SEO and PPC in such a way that they complement each other. For example you can use PPC to find out which keywords are most popular and which ones convert best. You can then feed this information into your SEO campaign so that you know you’re targeting the right keywords.
You can also use PPC to plug gaps in your SEO rankings so that you’re getting traffic for keywords that you do not rank naturally for. Then over time as your rankings improve, you may decide to reduce your PPC budget because you’re getting organic traffic.
If a brand is well known and does a lot of the marketing activity expected of a brand, such as TV advertising, radio spots and billboards, then chances are that users will search for those brand names.
For example, if a brand runs a TV ad, it is logical that people who like that ad will go online and search for the brand name. Clearly Google can record the number of searches for any given term so this is definitely data that they can gather.
Google actively tries to work out whether or not a particular website is a brand. It was long suspected that Google favoured large brands in search results and they took a step towards this in 2008 with the release of the Venice Update.
At the time Matt Cutts said that it was more a change in how trust is used rather than how Google treats brands. The result, however, seemed to be that brands were more favored in search results and this trend has continued until now.