Organic vs Paid search – who comes out on top?

Organic vs Paid search – who comes out on top?

Organic vs. Paid Search: Who Comes Out on Top?

where should I concentrate my time and efforts?

For businesses making their way into the modern world, getting to grips with online marketing has become essential. This means finding out ways to get your website in front of the right people at the right times, and appearing in search engine results when they’re on the hunt for answers.


Simple, right? Well, not always. When it comes to digital marketing, there are tons of different avenues you can take to get to that final destination in front of your customers – and not all routes are born equal. With these different avenues, you can boil them down to two key areas – organic and paid search. But which ones better? And where should you focus your efforts?



Wait, what’s the difference?

Let’s start by talking about what they actually are. When we talk about organic we don’t mean chemical free – we mean results that are decided based on the quality of the site, as determined by search engine algorithms. With paid search, these results are bought rather than earned, and appear alongside their organic counterparts.

Now, you may be thinking “well, one’s free and one isn’t – so that’s the benefit” – and while that is in some sense true, it’s not quite that simple. Organic marketing is a long-term strategy based around getting traffic through to a site, thanks to great content, awesome testimonials, and other white hat tactics that focus on simply making a great website. As a result, it can take months before organic marketing has any major impact on a site’s rankings – meaning you need to be in it for the long haul in order to get the most out of organic SEO.

With paid search, the opposite is true. This tactic is all about getting your message out there and getting people to convert. Paid search is all about the quick wins – the instant gratification. While that’s always appealing, there are costs attached. The success of a paid campaign is largely down to how much money you can funnel into it, meaning higher upfront costs – and a potential blocker for small or start up businesses. Plus, you need to take the time to optimise your ads; once you’ve got it right, your CPC will decrease, your CTR will increase, and everyone will be happy. But getting to that point isn’t always easy, particularly if you’re new to the paid world.

While some stats show that PPC visitors are 50% more likely to buy than organic visitors, 70% of clicked search results are organic – so if your website is super optimised and enticing, it doesn’t mean investing budget is the only way to get people to pay you a visit. Plus, when it comes to paid search, the second you stop investing that budget and fuelling the fire, your traffic will drop. Stop bidding, and people stop clicking. With other organic tactics – like SEO and content marketing – you should still see a trickle of traffic to your site even if you take a break, although they’re definitely not ‘set and forget’ strategies – you’ll need to give them some TLC to keep them working well.


To pay, or not to pay?

So, which one do you invest your time and money in? Well, the short answer is both. The sweet spot for businesses online is finding a way to use paid and organic search in blissful harmony. Paid tactics are great for getting your digital activity off the ground, while investing in a long-term organic strategy means that, as your site authority starts to improve, and your success metrics start to rise, you can reduce your paid budget and rely more on the organic activity.

With search engines moving slower than your Mum’s one-finger typing, PPC can give you the boost you need to get moving ASAP – with your organic activity building momentum in the background, getting ready to take over and snowball away.

93% of online experiences start with search engines, so making your mark on those all important SERPs is essential. Whether you were planning on splashing the cash, or thinking about investing in a long-term content-led strategy to bring you digital glory, taking the time to consider how paid and organic search can support each other is a sure-fire way to get the best out of both worlds. You see, in the digital world, you can have your cake and eat it. Now you know why we love it here.

Want to know more about organic SEO, or getting started with pay per click ads? Well, you’re in luck. Check out our upcoming Intro to SEO and Intro to PPC courses to find out how you can use these techie tools to your advantage. There might even be cake…

Liz Quinn

Liz Quinn

Digital Creative

Follow us on social media for blog updates and more kick-ass learning content to grow your digital skills!
3 things for brick & mortar businesses to do to quickly get online

3 things for brick & mortar businesses to do to quickly get online

3 things brick & mortar businesses can do right now to get online From Google My Business and local search, through to social media and website build... [wpseo_breadcrumbs]It's hard to know where to start as a physical business getting online, making digital and...

How to create character personas for your business

How to create character personas for your business

How To Create Character Personas For Your Business

how to create and use character personas and audience research

Do you know your audience? You might think you do, but understanding your audience involves a lot more than simply knowing who might be interested in what you offer. Let’s define your character’s persona…

In marketing, it is all too easy to think of audiences as demographics or numbers, but doing so strips away the behaviours and actions of your audiences – which can greatly shape your overall strategy.

Do you know what part of your business they might be interested in? Do you know where you can find these people online? Do you know the challenges they face, that your business or service could solve?

If you can’t answer these questions, then you probably don’t know your audience as well as you should.  Don’t fret though, we’re on hand to give you the definitive guide on how to create character personas for your business.

What is a character persona?

The best way to describe a character persona is its sort of like an imaginary friend. The only difference is that you want these imaginary friends to be based on real people and research. Put simply, you want your character persona to embody the traits of real customers. Doing so will allow you to build up an image of people who might be interested in your business – which you can then use to better target them.

Why do I need character personas?

So, we hear you asking – why do I need to understand my audience in such intimate detail? Let’s take an example. Pretend you own a bakery. It’s safe to say your business is going to target people who enjoy cakes and pastries. That’s great, but nearly everyone enjoys a good cake or pain au chocolat. You instead need to start looking into who is interested in the products you offer in more detail.

Maybe a potential customer is an early morning commuter looking for a sweet snack to keep them company on their journey. Maybe they’re a mother looking for a personalised cake for their son’s upcoming birthday. Or, perhaps they’re a business looking to purchase a large number of cupcakes for all their staff to say thanks for a job well done. Whoever your potential customers are, having a deeper understanding of who they are can allow you to better tailor your content and campaigns to ensure you’re reaching the people who are interested in your business right from the word go.

Ok, so how do I find out who these people are?

You probably already have a vague idea of the types of people who would be interested in your business and this can be a great starting point for your research. If your business has a website and you have set up tracking and analytics, this can also be a great way of understanding your potential customers. Do make sure to take any analytics data with a pinch of salt though – there’s no guarantee that everyone who visits your site is interested in what you have to offer.

Outside of analytics, there are many different avenues of exploration. One way is through questionnaires. These are a great way to gather information as it allows you to go straight to your customers for feedback. There is a massive gap between what separates a good questionnaire from a bad one though. Consider what you actually want to learn from your customers and work that into your questions. Asking how good they think your service is is good, but asking how your service could be improved is even better as you will be able to gain a better understanding of what your customers want from your business.

What about social media?

Everyone is on Facebook these days, so start by looking for groups and communities based on your industry. Looking back at the bakery example, you could search Facebook for baking groups or pages where people share cooking recipes. Have a quick look at the type of people who are part of these groups and try to gain an understanding of the type of conversations they’re having by looking through the group’s post history.

However, not all social platforms may be relevant to your business’s research. LinkedIn may not be the best place to find customers for your bakery – but it might be the perfect place for your security company looking to find directors/managers that might be looking to install some new security for their own business. As a general rule of thumb, LinkedIn works well for B2B, while Facebook is more suited for B2C, but don’t be afraid to experiment during your research.

I’ve done my research, now what?

Good job, now you can start putting your character personas together! There are different ways to go about this, but the simplest way would be to put together a document or presentation for all of your personas, with each slide dedicated to each potential customer. While there isn’t a definitive number of profiles you should have, a good number to aim for is between 3-5, although this may vary depending on how much information you have collected.

Start each profile with the basics. Create a name for each person as well as their age, location, salary and any other bits of basic info that may help build up a better image. You could also include an image of what you imagine this person would look like. When it comes to digital marketing, it can also be handy to think about how often those personas are likely to interact with digital media – whether that be by reading a blog, checking out the latest news or scrolling through social media. Understanding this will give you an idea about what the best platforms are for your marketing messages, as well as how large or small your potential windows for opportunity are!

Now comes the harder bit. Using the information you have gathered try to understand what these customers want, and how you can go about giving them exactly that. Identify their goals – what exactly is this person looking for? Then explain how your products/service can help them complete their goals. This isn’t always going to be a simple process, so note down any challenges you feel your persona may encounter along the way. If you’re running a bakery, maybe this particular person wants a cake but is gluten intolerant, or perhaps they have a limited budget, so are only able to spend a certain amount. If you conducted a questionnaire, you might be able to pick some of these challenges up from some of your feedback.

Other things you may wish to include are the types of questions your customer is likely to ask during their own research. These questions will likely be linked to their own challenges, so going off the previous example, a question may be “Where can I buy gluten-free cakes?” If you know what your customers want answers to, you can then build content and campaigns based on solving their problem. In this case, the bakery could look into making a range of gluten-free cakes, which they could then promote on social media or through recipe-based content on their website.

Conducting research and building character persona’s may feel like a long process, but it’s worth it. If you can understand who your audience is and what they want, you can ensure they come to you looking for a solution – and not someone else.


Do you create character personas for your business? Will you be after reading this guide? Drop us a message on Twitter if you have questions.

Now you’ve got a character persona, it’s time to work out your tone of voice – not sure what that is? Read this blog for some guidance.

Liz Quinn

Liz Quinn

Digital Creative

Follow us on social media for blog updates and more kick-ass learning content to grow your digital skills!
3 things for brick & mortar businesses to do to quickly get online

3 things for brick & mortar businesses to do to quickly get online

3 things brick & mortar businesses can do right now to get online From Google My Business and local search, through to social media and website build... [wpseo_breadcrumbs]It's hard to know where to start as a physical business getting online, making digital and...

Optimise your webpage

Optimise your webpage

Optimising Your Website For Search Engines

pimping your webpages for the benefit of search engines such as Google and Bing

Got a super sexy webpage taht’s not getting the traffic it deserves? Poor webpage 

Sometimes it just needs a helping hand to make it that bit more appealing to a search engine, and we’re here to help you pimp your page.

Known as on-page optimisation, there are changes you can make to your websites individual pages that can help search engines understand what it is you’re trying to say. It’s like texting each other with no context and hoping the other one gets it. (Spoiler alert, no one ever gets it!)

The things we’re going to quickly cover in this blog are; meta tags and title, headings and the page copy. Let’s break them down so you can help each webpage smooth talk a search engine.

Meta tags and title

These two things, you’ll never see on the page unless you were looking at the code (don’t, it’s scary!). Essentially, they’re embedded messages that’ll help the search engine determine what is on the webpage.

The title and the meta description are the bits you see on a search engine results page, quite literally the title of the page and the little description that lets you know what sort of thing you’re going to find on the page.

If you were selling digital marketing training, you’d want to make sure the phrase ‘digital marketing training’ is in both the title and description, placing it within the copy to make it fit and describe what the page is about.

The title should be short, sweet and to the point. Use the description to explain what the page is about. The description should be able two short sentences/150 characters and reinforce the title by using the keyword/phrase again – in this instance, ‘digital marketing training’.

Considering these are the things that appear in the search engine results pages, you need to consider both Googles algorithm AND the way a searcher will see/read/digest the result. Don’t just keyword stuff in the title, remember it’s got to draw in a potential customer.

excited new girl GIF

Headings and copy

Let’s start by remembering that primarily, you’re writing for people. Keyword/phrase stuffing into the copy of your webpage in an attempt to make search engines understand what it’s about won’t work! They’ll find you a bit clingy, not so cool anymore, and mark you as spam. Website traffic will see it as an instant turn-off, not really wanting to investigate further due to your obsessive use of the word/phrase.

A great rule of thumb would be to stick between two to five mentions of your keyword, dependant on the length of the copy of course. Length of your copy is subjective and varies depending on the business, product, and intention – but no one likes a mass of text!

To maximise the value and relevancy of your individual webpage, you should include your keywords/phrases in <H1> heading tags. Using title tags is a great way to provide a page hierarchy for search engines and also a great way to break up the copy of your page, provide structure and make it easier to digest for website visitors. It’s kinda like the bigger it is, the more Google wants to look at it…

There’s no limit on the amount of <H1> headings you can have on your page, Google said so. That sounds super appealing from an SEO point of view, yeah. But it won’t look nice to the user, will it? And remember, they’re your primary audience!

google GIF

Introducing elements into your webpage to make it all that more appealing to search engines will involve you using a little bit of creativity. That caring touch that everyone can enjoy, mixed with the important bits that Google desires of your webpage.

It’s easy peasy to pimp your page and make search engines like them. Let us know how you get on but if you have any other questions, pop us a message on Twitter or Facebook.

Want to learn more? Check out our WTF?! series.

Amber Vellacott

Amber Vellacott

Content Marketing Lead

Follow us on social media for blog updates and more kick-ass learning content to grow your digital skills!
3 things for brick & mortar businesses to do to quickly get online

3 things for brick & mortar businesses to do to quickly get online

3 things brick & mortar businesses can do right now to get online From Google My Business and local search, through to social media and website build... [wpseo_breadcrumbs]It's hard to know where to start as a physical business getting online, making digital and...