Organic vs Paid search – who comes out on top?

For businesses making their way in 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…

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