Organic vs. Paid Search


Building a website is only the tip of the iceberg. The real challenge is driving qualified visitors to your website. A qualified visitor is anyone who would have a direct interest in your product or service. One of the best places to find qualified visitors is through search engines. What better time to sell a product than when someone is actively looking for it? The only way this person will see your website is if you have an organic/natural listing (the results found on the left side of a Google search) or you have paid for a sponsored listing (on the right side of a Google search).

The act of trying to get listed in one of these areas is called Internet Marketing. Internet Marketing is mainly comprised of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the process of trying to improving the quantity and quality of one’s organic search traffic, and Search Engine Marketing (SEM), also known as pay per click marketing (PPC), the process of paying for each click sent by a search engine. These two forms of Internet Marketing are completely independent from each other, and each posses their own strengths and weaknesses.

Organic Search
The advantage of organic search marketing is that organic listings are more trusted by searchers than paid listings. Most searchers are savvy enough to realize that Google has a say in what shows up in their searches, and that paid listings are more about who has the deeper pocket. Top organic positions also attract 50% more attention than top paid positions.

The disadvantage of organic search is that it can be tricky to get top rankings if you don’t know what you are doing. Search engine optimization services base their entire businesses around raising their clients’ rankings. SEO services are highly valued by companies because a top position in Google for a competitive keyword can skyrocket leads and sales. These companies improve their clients’ rankings via proper search engine optimization. Search engine optimization is the act of optimizing a website to be more search engine friendly and increasing its perceived importance in the eyes of a search engine. Google uses complex ranking algorithms to determine which websites will be listed nearest the top of the page. If your website isn’t properly optimized, you could be losing out.

Paid Search
The obvious disadvantage of paid search marketing is that you have to pay for it. Paid search marketing is also commonly referred to as pay per click (PPC) marketing. The rate you are charged per click varies upon your market and your preferred ranking. A company paying $0.30/click will likely not rank above a company paying $0.40/click (there are some exceptions but for simplicity sake, this holds true).

The advantage of paying per click is that you have complete control over which terms your website will be listed under– in real time. This is especially useful when you aren’t sure about which keywords yield the highest returns. Using PPC management tools, you can easily determine which keywords are working best for your website.

The right choice for your website depends on your particular needs and desires. Most websites benefit most from utilizing a combination of these two approaches. Using PPC marketing can help you quickly identify your best performing keywords, while implementing a longer-term SEO strategy will increase your chances of ranking well in the organic listings.