What’s the difference between Paid Search and Organic Search?

Getting your website to the top of search results for is a challenge that every business faces. Backlinko reported that only .63% of Google searchers click on links on the second page. When a potential client searches for “(your service) in (local area)”, it’s imperative that your website is on Google’s first page. Based on your keyword, there may be a lot of competition for those top 10 spots. In Google, there are two ways that you can get listed in the top ten search results: paid search and organic search. 

Learn about the difference between paid and organic search below. You can also give us a call to learn about our services! We offer both SEO services and Google Ads Management to help you boost your website’s reach online and beat out competitors.

What is paid search?

Paid search is just what it sounds like – listings on Google that you pay for. Paid search listings are at the very top of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). The text that says “Sponsored” above the listings lets users know that it is an ad, rather than an organic result. 


Google has limited the number of paid search ads to four that can appear at the top of the SERPs so that there is still sufficient room for organic search results. The top 4 paid search results can be seen at the top of the results, while less competitive results will appear at the bottom of the page. The top ten organic search results, which we’ll cover later, are located under the paid ads, if Google chooses to serve paid ads. When Google chooses not to serve paid ads, the top organic results appear right at the top of the search engine results page. 

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Pay Per Click (PPC)

PPC is the method of pricing the amount that you will be charged each time a potential customer clicks on your ad. You’re not charged when the ad is shown on the SERP, also called impressions. You’ll bid on a particular keyword based on the competition for clicks from other similar companies.

Paid search works with a budget figure to keep from overcharging. If you have a budget of $200, Google will show your ad until that budget has been reached. If you’ve reached your budget before the end of your billing cycle, it’s very easy to add more money to your budget through Google Adwords.

Google Ads

The program that Google uses to manage its paid search campaigns is called Google Ads. The software will help you to plan keywords that are relevant to your business: in the example below, we’ve used “plumbing”. Google Ads will help you determine a geographic area for your listing, so that you can target specific geographic areas. 

Google Ads will then predict a “cost per click” figure for your paid search listing. This is based on search volume for your query. If there is a lot of competition for a certain keyword, it will cost more per click. Google Ads also works with ads available on websites that are running Google Ads, known as banner ads. The same PPC cost model applies.

Keyword Searches for Organic SearchWhat is organic search?

Organic search is harder to rank for than paid search, but studies show that only 10% of clicks go to paid ads. Paid search for common keywords tends to be dominated by larger companies that may not have a local reputation. People also state the opinion that organic search results in the top 10 positions are a much better fit to what they’re searching for. The #1 result will get 32.3% of the search traffic, with the #2 position getting roughly half that. Therefore, it’s easy to see that use of clever keywords and SEO best practices is key to making sure that your website ranks as high as possible in search results.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It consists of best practices that are put into use to make sure that a specific page ranks as high as possible in the SERPs. SEO can be done on-page and off-page.

Off-page SEO focuses on a set of strategies done outside of your website in order to improve the website’s ranking and visibility. Off-page best practices include: 

  • Backlink building
  • Guest blog posts
  • Citations
  • Google Business profile optimizations
  • Customer review strategies

On-page SEO includes the strategic use of keywords to make your website rank higher in organic search. This involves choosing a target keyword for each page of your website based on the topic you want each page to rank for. For instance, if you have a page on your website dedicated to your plumbing services, you’d want to use a keyword like “plumbing services” so that when users search that term, your website will appear in those results. You can also use a secondary keyword if you want to broaden your reach or enrich your primary keyword. 

Finding the most ideal keyword involves conducting keyword research to ensure that you’re not using one that is oversaturated, or too competitive to rank for. Using keyword research tools, like Semrush or Ahrefs, allows you to view the volume and keyword difficulty of the keywords you want to target. The goal is to find a keyword with high volume (meaning that it is frequently searched for) and low difficulty (meaning it’s not being used by too many websites). Some on-page SEO best practices include:

  • Including your keyword in the title of your website
  • Including your keyword in at least one H2 (heading) of your content
  • Keeping your keyword saturation (how often your keyword appears in your content) to 1-2%
  • Including your keyword in the meta description
  • Including 1-2 backlinks

Ensuring pages meet a word count ranging from 1,500 – 2,500 words

Create Blog Posts 

Having a blog on your website is the best way to improve organic search ranking and traffic. Google ranks pages with regular fresh content higher in organic search than static pages that don’t update regularly. Posting a blog, however, doesn’t do much if you’re not actively implementing SEO practices, like including high volume, low difficulty keywords. This goes beyond the SERP and goes into the promotion of your blog post.

Backlinks are also a great way to increase the visibility of your post. Organic search ranking is influenced by the number and reliability of the website with the backlink. Do you know any industry-specific pages to which you can submit your post? Are there any colleagues on whose website you can re-post your article? Once posted to their website, they backlink to your website, boosting your ranking.

Contact Compete Now for Professional Google Ads and SEO Support

Are you interested in taking your website to the front of the SERPs? At Compete Now, we’ve worked in the digital marketing and web design space for over a decade, so we’re here for everything related to Paid Search and Search Engine Optimization. We offer Google Ads Management services to attract customers to your landing pages, as well as SEO plans to uplift your website’s visibility as a whole. Schedule a call to learn more about how we can attract more visitors to your website!