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

Getting your website to the top of search results for your keyword is a challenge that every business faces. When a potential client searches for “(your service) in (local area)”, it’s imperative that your website is in the first 10 results. Studies show that only 9% of searchers click on the second page. Based on your keyword, there may be a lot of competition for those top those top 10 spots. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll be using Google search as the example. There are two ways that you can get listed in the top ten: paid search and organic search.

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). They have a small “Ad” token at the beginning of the listing that lets you know that it has been purchased.

Paid Search Listing

Google has limited the number of paid search ads 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 between the two.

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 Adwords

The program that Google uses to manage its paid search campaigns is called Google Adwords. The software will help you to plan keywords that are relevant to your business: in this case, we’ve used “plumbing”. Adwords will help you determine a geographic area for your listing, so that it will be associated with locations when paired with your keyword.

Adwords 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 Adwords also works with ads available on websites that are running Adwords, 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 the majority of people will scroll past the paid search ads without even considering them. Paid search for common keywords tends to be larger companies that may not have a local reputation. People also state the opinion that organic search in the top 10 positions is a much better fit to what they’re looking for. The #1 result will get 33% of the search traffic, with the #2 position getting roughly half that. So it’s easy to see that use of clever keywords and SEO best practices is key to making sure you site ranks as high as possible.

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 best practices include making sure that your target page is shared on social media, there are links from other pages to yours, and the general promotion of the page. How fast your site loads also can affect your search engine ranking.

On-page SEO includes the strategic use of keywords to make your page rank higher in organic search. Some of the on-page best practices include:

  • Including your keyword in the title of your page
  • Including your keyword in one H2 (heading) of your content
  • Keeping your keyword saturation (how often your keyword appears in your content) 1-2%
  • Including your keyword in the meta description
  • Including 1-2 backlinks
  • Word count ≥ 1600 words

Paid Search and Organic SearchesGetting your blog post seen

Having a blog on your site 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 don’t do everything you can to make get it seen. This goes beyond the SERP and goes into the promotion of your blog post.

Social media has become a force to be reckoned with in recent years. Social media profiles regularly rank among search engine results for a specific company. Sharing your post on social media gets your post out to fans of your page; they then have the opportunity to share it with their friends. Facebook also has paid search (“Sponsored” posts), which we’ll cover in another post.

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

Interested in taking your page to the front of the SERPs? Schedule a call to find out how we can help you.