Organic vs. Paid Search

Pay-per-click, paid search, CPC (cost-per click), and CPM (cost-per-thousand) are all paid advertising terms that boost search engine results and optimize your SEM (search engine marketing). Sounds like a mouthful, right? SEO, or search engine optimization, generally refers to unpaid marketing that boosts your search results organically (list of web pages in a search engine that are not advertisements).

According to Jupiter Research, 81% of users find their end target through a search engine. Though to many, an ad listing is just another part of the search results and users may not know that once they click, they could be directed to another landing page that some company somewhere has paid for them to go to. That company will then get billed for the click-through.

Organic Search

In many cases, marketers use blog posts and content on their websites to drive traffic. The more traffic a website gets, the higher it can appear in search engines. To get to that point, keyword phrases must be implemented throughout content on a web page in an order that makes sense for search engines to pick it up. Just the same, too many keyword phrases can land your page at the bottom of the barrel. Google will recognize “keyword stuffing” as they call it. Marketers use these tactics to place websites on the first page of Google or another search engine and then attempt to move into the top three ranked places. Most users don’t go past the first page when searching with keywords. For example, if you needed to send flowers to your friend for her birthday and you don’t know where to order them from, you won’t have a company name to type into search. You would type in a keyword phrase such as “flower delivery company in Baltimore.” The companies with the best SEO will appear on the first page, even if another company is just as adequate if not more affordable. This is why smaller businesses should implement blogs, social media, and an optimized website to compete with larger competitors. Often times in cases such as this, paid SEO should be used.

Paid Search

The yellow box you see at the top and to the right of every search contains advertisements. Those results are paid search and are placed depending on the amount of each bid and the quality score of the ad. If one company outbids another even by just a penny, that ad is more likely to show up in paid search. A lot of time is saved when using paid search, as organic ranking takes months to produce results. Paid search can throw your website into the mix immediately. A downfall of paid search is that users generally trust organic results more as each new generation becomes more familiar with the search function. Ads also disappear once you stop paying for them, so your top place in search will be lost.

Which is better?

Organic search provides credibility that the business is a leader in the industry and rankings are easily kept once you’re in the flow. The key is to apply organic tactics for at least six months to start to see that you are getting ahead of competitor sites. It takes time and resources to rank organically. Writers, programmers and an SEO expert must be brought in to achieve your goal. Paid search benefits include specific audience targeting and time-saving. Based on the business, it can be costly to apply paid search, which can be a disadvantage. Overall, you need to decide if it is worth it. Analytics can be measured so you will be able to determine your return on using paid search.

There is no right answer as to if organic or paid search is better. A combination of both is the best option for your business. A tactic many use is to pay for search until analytics show that organic ranking is overtaking the paid search. Once you see your business making “headlines” so to speak, paid search can be dwindled down if you are budget-conscious.

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