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Organic search versus paid and how it might benefit your business
Search marketing is an essential tool for every business that wants their website and content to be seen on the world’s largest platform, Google. With 5.6 billion searches a day on Google, it’s no surprise that search is the number one driver of traffic to websites. If you can target the right keywords, you can ensure that your business will benefit from increased traffic, bringing people to your website, along with the opportunity to convert them into customers.
When looking into search marketing, there are two methods to consider: organic or paid. Both are ways of capturing search users and attracting them to your website, though each one has different benefits and cost implications, and can impact your results in varying ways.
It is essential to understand the role of both paid and organic search when crafting your search strategy. This will help you devise tactics that work for your business and its unique needs while enabling you to yield maximum results.
This guide explains what paid and organic search is and when you should use each in your search activity.
What is organic search?
Organic search focuses on optimising your website and content for search engines, using techniques that cost nothing apart from your time and effort. Common organic SEO practice includes identifying relevant keywords and incorporating them into your copy, ensuring high-quality content and answering your customers’ questions and building a solid domain authority through backlinks.
Organic search is a good source of traffic for many websites. However, it is only effective if you can get on the first page of results for the keywords you are targeting, with the ultimate aim to be the featured snippet for that term. 91.5% of traffic goes to results on the first page of Google only, so anything on the second and beyond is unlikely to bring large volumes of visitors to your website. You also need to make sure you target words that have enough search volume behind them – even if you can get the top result for an obscure search term, it will have little impact if nobody is searching for it.
Organic search is a continual process. You should always be seeking to optimise content, create backlinks and improve your domain authority. Even if you secure a top spot on the search engine results page (SERP), you can quickly lose it if your competitors manage to create a more relevant or valuable piece of content. Due to this, you need to consistently update content to remain high in the SERPs.
It can also be a long slog. Once you’ve optimised your website for SEO, it can take between six and 12 months to see substantial results. When you do, however, it can prove incredibly useful for your performance metrics.
What is paid search?
Paid search, also referred to as pay-per-click (PPC), is when you pay for your website to appear in search engine results. Paid results will usually appear near the top of the results page, though if there are multiple paid results, it might not take the very top spot. It will also be shown with a tag that clarifies it’s an ad, but otherwise, it will blend in with the rest of the results on the page.
Paid results can be beneficial as they allow you to do two things very quickly: firstly, present more information about your business. In the examples above, we can see the Dyson ad contains five links, with supporting text under each that aims to attract a search user. This is unlike an organic result, which will have one hyperlink and a short description. Secondly, if you are at the very early stages of implementing an organic SEO strategy, paid search will help to give you the exposure you need whilst you are waiting the weeks or months required for your organic ranking to build.
When creating a paid search ad, you need to select what words you need to target, like you would with organic search. You can input the words you want to appear for into Google AdWords, alongside the information and links you want to include in your ad.
Google will then charge you every time someone clicks your ad. You can set a budget for this, so you only spend a limited amount.
As with organic search, you will likely have some competition to go against (both from organic results and other ads), so it’s essential to ensure your ad is relevant and attractive to users. This will give you a better chance of capturing customers to your website.
When should you use organic versus paid search activity?
There are unique advantages to using both organic and paid search. In general, users favour organic when on the SERP, with 94% selecting an organic result versus a PPC one. The data also shows that women are marginally more likely to pick a paid result, and the older the searcher is, the more likely they are to click on an Ad.
While it may be tempting to utilise organic search only based on that premise, it is worth noting that efficient organic search relies on you securing first-page results for your business. This isn’t always easy, especially if you target highly competitive words that your rivals are already pursuing. So, if you want to see favourable results, you need to create valuable content that incorporates the right keywords and follows SEO best practice.
Although most search traffic does tend to click on organic results, that doesn’t mean that paid search has no purpose in your strategy. In research undertaken by Google, it was found that paid search can grow brand awareness by as much as 80%. By guaranteeing you get that top spot of the SERPs, search ads can help you expand your reach and put your business name in front of new people.
The main reason cited for people not clicking paid ads on Google is a lack of trust. If you are pursuing paid, you need to ensure that your ad is authentic, relevant to the search intent, and provides accurate information about your business. This will help you answer customer queries better, secure their clicks, and convert them into buyers.
Of course, one of the critical features of paid search is that you have to pay for it. The more competitive your search terms are for your products, you’ll need deeper pockets. If you are a small business with a limited marketing budget, this just might not be an option for you, leaving you to very patiently pursue organic activity by default.
However, if you can fund paid ads, it tends to offer a great return on investment. Data has shown that businesses on average receive $3 in revenue for every $1.60 they spend through Google Adwords, suggesting there is value to be reaped from paid search for companies who use it.
Another consideration when deciding whether to take the organic or paid route is how much long you can wait for results. As we’ve already mentioned, organic SEO can take over six months to have an impact, whereas paid ads will start showing almost instantly. In this sense, it may be a good idea to utilise paid search to fill the gap while you wait for newly implemented SEO practices to take flight.
Simply put, paid search should not take precedence over organic. Organic search will prove critical in the long run, helping your business rank for the appropriate search terms and attract traffic continually. However, if you have the budget to incorporate paid activity into your search strategy, it can complement your SEO efforts by delivering quick wins and expanding your brand reach.
Search marketing has significant power to bring traffic to your website, allowing you to turn those visitors into buyers through compelling content and a seamless customer journey.
By creating a strategy that encompasses the right blend of organic and paid activity, you can ensure you bring the right traffic to your website and expand the reach of your business. If you focus on providing value to users and answering their questions, you can increase your chances of turning visitors into customers – fuelling your business growth and enhancing revenue.