What’s the difference between organic search results vs paid search results?
Traffic which comes from people finding your links among search engine results pages (SERPs) is classified as an Organic search. Paid search results are for companies that set up ad campaigns to appear at the top of the SERPs. There are benefits to both types of search results so let’s explore each kind:
Digital marketers focus most of their energy on Google search engine results through search engine optimization (SEO) and digital advertising through search engine ad campaigns (also referred to as search engine marketing or SEM) because a large percentage of people use Google as their preferred search engine (only 19% of people use Yahoo or Bing’s search engine).
What is Organic Traffic?
Whenever you type your search query into Google, the list of links that appear below the ads are organic results. These appear purely based on the quality, content of the page, and domain authority of the website. Digital marketers, like M3 Growth professionals, use various strategies to increase your website’s likelihood of appearing in the top 10 organic results.
Organic traffic is typically considered to be the most valuable traffic source for various reasons:
- Google directs the highest amount of traffic and they are the most trusted source for information when someone is considering a purchase (whether of a service or product).
- Google is very particular about their rankings so if you find yourself ranking in the top 5 or even 10 positions in the Google SERPs, you can pat yourself on the back for having quality content.
- Moving up rankings is difficult and can take time, but once you have made it to the top, you’ll be able to reap the benefits for a while.
- Results on the first page of Google receive 92% of all search traffic!
- 33% of clicks in the organic results sections go to the very first listing on Google.
The primary downside to Google organic search is that it can take several months to be indexed and generate traffic. If your business has a website, which we hope it does, and you are wanting to be a part of Google’s top search engine results, you need to focus energy on ensuring your website is optimized in the right places. By doing so, search engine crawlers (sometimes referred to as spiders) understand the content and purpose of your business. Gone are the days of “keyword stuffing” and other black hat SEO tricks.
In order to increase your organic traffic, you must have persistence, patience, and time. Google is ingrained into our daily lives and our buying behavior. Unless by some miracle, some other Search Engine takes over, the importance of SEO and organic traffic is unlikely to change.
What is Paid Traffic?
Paid search results are for companies who want to appear at the top of the SERPs immediately by setting up ad campaigns. Despite the notification in the results that indicate the page is an Ad, many consumers are unaware these are paid for positions. Google has seamlessly added Ads to the SERPs in a way that they appear to be regular or organic results.
For these reasons, paid search ads have become more popular because organic results have become more competitive. Rather than having to wait for your website to appear near the top of the SERPs, you can pay to have your site at the top. Google owns Android and Youtube, but 70% of their revenue comes from Google Ads. This fact speaks volumes about the effectiveness of ad campaigns.
It is easy to assume that whoever pays the most in the Google Ads auction will have the best visibility, but that isn’t always the case. Much like the rules surrounding who ranks organically, Google has a process in place (quality score, landing page quality, content rules, etc.) to make sure that the ads that are displayed are still highly relevant for users. User experience is above everything else when it comes to both organic and paid search.
In order to get a positive Return on Investment (ROI) with paid search ads, it’s important to know what you’re doing—or to employ an agency like Momentum3 Growth who specializes in pay-per-click ads (PPC).
Which is Right for You: Paid or Organic?
Some will say “free is always best” while others will say “You get what you pay for.” While this is true, to run an optimized SEO/SEM campaign, it may be right for your company to work on both the paid and organic platform. If you are just starting out and have some cash to spare, a paid campaign will produce quicker results than an organic strategy, but if you want something that will be evergreen, organic is the way to go. Let’s lay out the pros and cons of each campaign type to help you choose which option is best for your business model.
Organic Search Pros & Cons
When you use best SEO practices on your website, you will naturally earn authority which will lead to ranking higher on search engines. Gaining authority means that Google considers your website to be a reliable source of information for certain keywords, so they push your website higher in the results as a reward for you as well as to allow users to easily find your content.
Even more importantly, people tend to click on the higher ranked websites for various reasons.
- It seems logical that the first few listing in the search results are most related to your search query.
- It’s easier to click on the first couple of links instead of scrolling through pages looking for something you want.
Organic search is the gift that keeps on giving. If you have a fully optimized site and continue to implement best SEO strategies, you’ll start to rank and continue to rank if the content meets Google’s requirements. Once you receive high rankings, it is easier to hold onto them.
Even if you hire an agency like Momentum3 to do your organic search work for you, the cost is minimal and the long-term benefits are extravagant. It may be more time consuming (because you must wait for results) than PPC, but the overall cost is lower.
Cons: Time & Resources
Nothing is ever truly free. SEO won’t hit your wallet as hard as paid search will, but there will still be a significant amount of time and resources invested to get it right. SEO is a long-term approach that takes time to craft and implement across your site, and often it takes months to see results.
The other thing to take into consideration is you’re not alone in the game of SEO. Certain keywords are highly competitive in your niche and if another business has more time and resources than you have, they can invest in creating higher quality content than you can produce. This is where Momentum3 Growth comes in: hire us to do the legwork of your campaign for you so you can sit back and reap the benefits of our efforts on your website while focusing on internal business needs.
Paid Search Pros & Cons
Pro: Less Time Consuming
Developing evergreen SEO content and waiting for it to rank well enough to see significant results can be a slow process. If you don’t want to invest the time in waiting for SEO to work for your site, paid search can get you in front of your desired audience quickly. If you follow best practices, optimize your ads, develop a one-of-a-kind landing page, and have a competitive budget for your industry then you will be able to attract the best customers who are ready to buy your product or service.
Crafting a successful paid campaign isn’t a piece of cake, but there are many resources online to teach you how to do it and agencies like us who can take over for you.
Pro: Interact with the Right Audience
Paid search gives you the opportunity to put your service or product in the face of people who are ready to buy. When the searcher is down the funnel, relevant ads at the top of the fold are more likely to be clicked on.
Cons: Longevity & Cost
Kind of like a casino, you must pay to play. High-quality keywords for your campaign may be very expensive so you will have to increase your budget in order to compete for the top spot. If you can spend $2K and your ROI comes out to 10K then it’s probably worth the investment. Don’t get us wrong, you don’t have to have $2K to set up a successful ad campaign. Start small at $50 to learn the traffic market, and adjust your budget according to the analytic data from your ad campaigns.
Additionally, the visibility of your campaign and the potential for high ROI only lasts if your campaign is running. Once you’ve used your budget, that’s it unless you increase your budget or the month rolls over.
Paid and Organic Search: A Juggling Act
It would be easy to say one is better than the other, but the truth is that it’s best to have a balance between the two. It’s important to target customers from all perspectives. By optimizing your site using SEO tactics, you ensure that your website is showing up for people who dig through the organic results and also people who want the quickest result.
If your goal is to make sure that potential customers find you online, then a strong marketing strategy would utilize both SEO and SEM. A combination of the two will deliver the best results and have customers finding your business in no time at all.
Momentum3 Growth professionals are equipped to run both your PPC and SEO campaigns. We can help launch your campaign from the ground up or take over from where you’ve left off. Contact us today for a quote.