Search Engine Marketing has evolved majorly over the last two decades and now we have many different ways to categorize search, the marketing efforts behind it, and how companies can be successful in the space. There are two different approaches to look at marketing efforts on search engines – paid and organic.
What is organic search?
Organic search is a term used to describe naturally populated web pages on a search engine results page (SERP) when a user is searching something in a browser without any commercial or financial influence.
How does it work?
Organic search results are determined by multiple different factors such as keyword relevance, incoming links, and domain authority. Organic search is established by building a strategy that contains keyword research, relevant content and keywords, metadata and descriptions, optimized onsite and off site content and images and more.
What is paid search?
Paid search describes a paid digital advertisement that appears on SERP based on what the user is searching for utilizing a pay-per-click model where advertisers can bid to have their ad appear with a variety of search terms and phrases.
How does it work?
Paid search is done on a pay-per-click model where advertisers pay only when users click on their advertisements.Similarly to organic search, the targeting here is based on keywords. However, in paid search you have much more control over your audience and keywords associated. With paid search, you are still doing a wealth of keyword research in order to build a robust account and campaign however, you are putting advertising spend behind these efforts.
When you advertise in paid search, the best way to think about it is giving your brand the opportunity to be present in the right place at the right time. When a user is actively searching for a phrase or keyword directly related to your business, right then is the perfect time for your name to appear as a top choice so you can capture them in the moment that they are looking.
How are paid and organic search similar?
Both organic and paid search display when it is most relevant for a user experience. For example, if you were searching for new boots, an ad or organic listing for a local restaurant near you wouldn’t appear. Both of these advertising mechanisms utilize keywords to target their audience.
Another similarity is that they both drive traffic to your website. The results from these advertising methods are, however, different.
How are paid and organic search different?
One main difference between organic and paid search are the results you get from the efforts you put into each. While paid search performance can be seen quickly, it takes time for organic performance to build up and start garnering quality traffic.
Additionally, paid search allows you to layer in additional audience targeting while organic search has no platform for you to strategize what your results look like, no layer of audience targeting or bidding – it’s natural presence.
One major difference between the two search efforts is the cost associated. As mentioned before, paid search operates on a pay-per-click basis where every time a click is generated, there is a cost known as cost per click attributed to it. With SEO, the only cost is the effort you put into it. There is no monthly budget or media spend needed to work on organic search performance or listings however, as mentioned earlier, the organic search & SEO performance is a long game whereas paid search results can be seen much faster.
So which is right for you?
Both! Organic and paid search work together to build you a robust search engine presence across all engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo and more. Each effort has different tactics and measurable results to ensure you’re getting the most out of your search engine efforts.
The first step of knowing where to begin is ensuring that you have your marketing strategy and goals outlined and developed to ensure all your efforts are working together. With that, you can ensure you build in both paid and organic search efforts to improve your overall search visibility and presence.