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What is the Difference Between Organic and Paid Search?

There is a range of terms used in digital marketing and they can definitely be overwhelming the first time you’re introduced to a lot of them. Two of these terms are organic search and paid search, both of which are major role players in quite a few digital marketing strategies. So, what is the difference between organic and paid search? You can immediately see that they both are related to search but what sets them apart.

Well, let’s start with organic search. Just like your fruit and vegetables, organic could, in a sense, mean untouched by humans or, more appropriately, not interfered with by humans – this is exactly the same philosophy behind organic search.

The idea is that the search results should be as “natural” as possible and that search results can’t be manipulated to give the user information they don’t want. This may sound like there is no way to easily get your website ranking high but there is a definite “Google-approved” method to achieve it and it is worth it.

Search engines are trying to place highly relevant content in front of people so they get what they’re looking for. This means that great strategies revolve around creating relevant content rather than trying to trick the system.

When it comes to paid search, we’ve moved passed the 20th century which means you can’t actually pay your way to a higher search rank – not directly with Google anyway. Paid search is essentially about showing contextual adverts alongside organic search results. This means you can get displayed for terms that you’re not ranking for yet.

That’s why paid search is such a great way to get decent results over the short-term – you can basically pay to be in front of your target market. The one important note here is that your links will be clearly marked as “sponsored”. This means Google does warn the user that this has been paid for.

Now let’s not draw any conclusions just yet. If we look at paid search, the results over the short-term can be great. You’re able to get back what you put in pretty quickly. This is great for new businesses or new service / product launches.

On the flip side, organic search strategies need to be considered over the long-term. The investment in the beginning does not generate immediate results but over time results grow exponentially leading to a much better return on investment (ROI).

Using a combination of both organic and paid search can give you amazing results over the short- and long-term with great ROI. That being said, that’s only if you have a target strategy that allows you to attract the right kind of visitors. If you’re interested to know more about that, read more about the long-tail keyword strategy.

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Seagyn Davis

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