What’s the difference between paid and organic search?

B2B Digital Marketing Specialists

What’s the difference between paid and organic search?

November 1, 2019 PPC SEO 1

Just what is the difference between paid and organic search? And can these impact your website and business? Put simply, organic search comes from people searching for websites, businesses and blogs in a search engine. Google for example, but also Bing and Yahoo. SEO is the process of influencing these results. Paid search is the process of generating traffic through sponsored links which appear at the top of search results.

Spoiler Alert –  Both are an important source of traffic for websites. You can read about our SEO & PPC services here.

In all likelihood, you’re one of the majority who uses Google as their primary search engine. In fact, 67% of desktop searches are done using Google.

If this is the case, you’re probably already very familier with Google’s search result layout, with paid search appearing at the very top, followed by organic search results. Both paid and search results provide an equally important source of traffic for inbound marketers.

The method of acquiring traffic from these sources is different. Generating organic traffic is known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) whilst paid traffic is generated through Pay Per Click (PPC).

Organic Search

Whenever you use Google, Bing or Yahoo (or any of the growing number of search engines) the websites produced in the results are referred to as ‘organic results’.

They are generated to the relevancy of the content and performance of the webpage.

Organic Search

The search engine’s algorithm has decided that these pages have the most relevant content in relation to what the user is searching for, in this case “running shoes for men”. Google scans for a variety of things including keywords including the URL, meta description and tags. The closer these match the search terms, the higher the ranking.

Ranking higher in search engine results is vary desirable. In order to do this, you’ll need to employ SEO techniques which make your page more attractive to search engine algorithms. Unfortunately this is usually a long term process and can take more months to see results.

There are tons of guides and how-to’s that can help. We recommend using Yoast SEO or Jetpack SEO plugins to help your webpages rank higher.

Check out our PPC Management Services.

Paid Search

Paid search is essentially a business buying adverts in order to leapfrog organic search results.

In order to place adverts on Google, marketers use Google Ads (formerly AdWords) to write and bid on keyword opportunities. Even with the recent changes to their appearance, you can usually easily tell which results are paid.

Paid Search

You can usually assume whichever ad appears at the top had the highest bid, resulting in increased visibility. However, much like organic result, there are several factors Google’s algorithm takes into consideration, quality score, landing page quality and page loading speeds for example.

To ensure a positive ROI on your paid search investment, it’s important to fully understand Google Ads. The vast majority of businesses, particularly SMEs will outsource this work to an agency that specialises in PPC.

Check out our PPC Management Services.

Which is best for my business?

It’s important to implement a combination of both Organic and Paid Search. Today, there is an ever increasing number of businesses competing online for a reducing attention span.

You can read out in-depth look into the pros and cons of organic and paid search strategies here.


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