Paid Search vs Organic Search  (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Thu Nguyen

Paid or organic search marketing? Using one or both will determine how consumers find your site, because where your business is listed on a search engine results page is important as well. According to a study by Chitika (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., sites listed on the first page of Google results generated 92% of all traffic while the second page only generated 4.8% of all traffic from an average search. Both methods have specific benefits and drawbacks. Learning about both paid and organic will help you get the best return for your search marketing dollars.

Paid Search (PPC)

Paid search marketing, otherwise known as pay-per-click marketing, are paid ads (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. A business pays to have their ads displayed when users do a search containing specific keywords. These are the search results that you see above and to the right of organic search results. The way these ads are displayed are based upon the bids process and quality score. With paid search, you have more control over the ranking of your ad than organic search.

When to Use Paid Search:

  • If you are looking for first page exposure, paid results will be placed at the top of rankings as soon as you pay for the ad placement.
  • If you are already on the first page of organic listings, you will have double the visibility.
  • If you want to test a specific campaign, you have the ability to target and test your ad.
  • Paid search allows your budget to go further with segmenting. You can segment by location, income, age, educational level, marital status, industry, etc.
  • If you are a B2B and have a bigger budget, consider investing in PPC. Keep in mind that the more competitive the keyword, the more the bid price is for each click on the displayed ad.
  • Paid search should be used especially when you want to promote a time-sensitive offer.

Organic Search (SEO)

Organic search results are the listings of Web pages returned by the search algorithms that closely match the search string of keywords. To gain high search engine rankings, marketers use SEO and content assets. Higher search rankings give a site the perception of credibility and authority. The goal is to slowly move onto the first page of search results. However, a high ranking is cultivated over a long period of time.

When to Use Organic Search:

Your site will not gain the top ranking after one month of SEO. It takes time. But there are long-term benefits with organic search that PPC cannot compete with. According to Search Engine Watch (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., organic search drives 51% of traffic to websites in the business services, hospitality, media and retail sectors. Often, the advantages and drawbacks of organic search are the opposite of paid ads.

  • If your primary goal is to increase value to your site and build authority, organic search is the way to go.
  • If you are a small business and need to increase site traffic, consider organic search before investing in PPC.
  • Your business has a longer buying cycle. When consumers are at the awareness stage, they are searching “top of the funnel” search terms. The click-through rates for these terms are better for organic search results.
  • Once you get high rankings, it may be easier to keep those rankings. But remember, with organic search, you must stay consistent, and you must invest the time and money. Unlike paid search, organic search rankings can take months or years.
  • If the content that ranks high is evergreen, then the rankings will also have a more evergreen presence. The specific listing may rank high long after the content was created.

Together is Better

According to a Google study (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., paid search ads with an accompanying organic search result only occur 19% of the time, on average. If you want speed and immediate results, choose paid. If you are patient and have the time to build your ranking, choose organic.

The best approach is a mix of both organic and paid search. With the right amount, you will have the advantage of business credibility and immediate top-of-the-page listings when consumers are ready to purchase.

Trying to choose between paid search vs organic search? Here’s a nifty little infographic we put together to help make the best choice.


Integrating Organic and Paid Search

5 Ways to Use Paid Search & SEO Together (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Paid search and SEO work in different ways to get visitors to your website. Paid search can yield almost immediate results, but can be expensive. Conversely, SEO (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. is relatively cost free, but optimization efforts can take a long time to impact organic rankings. Both are important online marketing elements to, but can take different priorities depending on your goals and time.

In the past, these tactics have been managed separately, but now, more businesses are seeing the value of a unified approach. Google shifted the industry in this direction when they started limiting organic search query information in an effort to increase privacy. With that change, it became even more important to combine and leverage paid search and organic efforts into one. Since paid search and SEO are dependent on keywords, it makes sense that both disciplines should be looked at through a similar lens. Here are 5 ways your business can start integrating both.

1. Keyword Research/Expansion

Use Google Analytics (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. and Google Webmaster Tools (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. to see what keywords are driving visits to your site. If those keywords/queries aren’t already present in your paid search campaign, add them in and try them out. Use your AdWords (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. tools to determine if the traffic volume is worth the cost. On the flip side, take your highest converting paid terms and try to prioritize the ones you have a chance to rank organically (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. Start with the top converting and high quality score terms. Odds are, those keywords are very relevant to your business and may have a good chance at converting organically as well. Start creating content around those keywords to increase your ranking in SERPs (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

2. Paid Links + Organic Links = Clicks

Studies have shown that users have a higher propensity to click on your paid link if they see your organic link listed, as well the other way around. This may seem counter-intuitive, but the truth of the matter is that unless your organic ranking is within the top 3 positions, it’s a lot harder to come by clicks. If you’re not on the first page of the rankings, its even less likely you’ll get the traffic you’re looking for. As Brightedge (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. put it “the study focused on the interactions between organic search results and paid ads found that even for sites claiming a No. 1 organic ranking, paid ads provided 50 percent incremental clicks (meaning, half of the top-ranking site’s visits would not have happened without the presence of paid ads).” Basically, if you aren’t running paid search in tandem with your top organic links you could be leaving clicks on the table.

3. Leverage Compelling Copy

Take your best performing ads in terms of click thru rate and conversion rate and try applying those headlines and ad copy into your meta descriptions (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. and title tags. Additionally, you can take copy from top performing organic pages and see how they work within paid ads.

4. Get Content Ideas

For SEO purposes, content really is king (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. Before developing content around certain keywords, topics, etc., try testing it with paid search first. Chances are that if it converts well in paid search it has a good chance of working for SEO too. If it doesn’t work on the paid side, it might not be worth investing too much of your time. With SEO, things take time to make an impact so paid search is a good way test ideas without spending a lot of time waiting for results.

5. Identify Competitors

Pay Per Click reports can identify new competitors that you may have not even thought of as competitors. By looking at an insight report for keywords, you can see how you stack up against competitors searching for particular keywords. For example, as VerticalResponse, an email marketing provider, we find ourselves competing against CRM platforms for certain terms even though we may not consider them a direct competitor. It’s a good idea to take a look as you may be surprised by what you find.

These 5 ways can help improve both your paid search and SEO efforts and get insights about what works For small and large businesses alike, being able to save time and focus on the things that can make the most impact quickly is essential.