When it comes to SEO and SEM, you’ll hear the terms “Organic” and “Paid” search come up frequently.  If you’re new to the optimization and marketing process, this is probably pretty confusing!  Here is your guide to understanding organic and paid search results.

Understanding Organic Versus Paid Search Results

The View


From a viewers perspective, the difference between organic and paid search results is very clear.  Usually, search engines will display paid results first, and organic results second.  The paid results will usually be indicated, either by appearing in a shaded area, showing up on a sidebar, or just having a small label of “sponsored”.

The Basic Definition

A paid search ad is just what it sounds like- an advertised search result that is paid for by the consumer.  Usually, these are handled with a minimal paid per click (PPC) fee.  The ad runs until the budget is spent, based on how many clicks they receive.  As soon as the ad is not renewed, the ad is removed and will no longer show up in paid search engine results.  There are also options that will allow you to continue to put your site in the view of the browser once they’ve visited or shown interest in your business/website.

An organic search result is a result that occurs when a site is displayed without advertising being purchased.  An organic search result occurs due to a number of factors based on the search engine’s algorithm.  Some of these factors may include relevance to the search topic, popularity of the site, and history of the traffic on that site.  However, there are many intricate details that go into organic results.

The Investment

Paid search ads are a great way to boost your visibility and start climbing the ranks.  As long as you have the skills and knowledge to set up your paid search ads properly, you should be showing up for related searches in your area.  To keep the momentum going, you’ll have to maintain a steady investment and make sure you are purchasing the right ads.

Organic search results can cost money too, especially if you hire an SEO expert to help you get noticed.  You’re also investing time.  It takes a while to boost organic search results, and it’s a very specific process.

The Benefits

Paid search ads can carry you through the phase of building your organic result strategy.  They are a surefire way to get more traffic on your site, more visibility, and will even play a part in building your organic results.  Once they’re gone, though, they’re gone.  You have to continue to pay for search ads if you want to stay in the sponsored area.

Organic results have longevity and perceived value to the consumer.  They will also give you a solid return on your invested time and money because once the structure is built, it only needs to be maintained.  In the long run, this will be an incredibly cost-effective form of marketing.


Paid vs. Organic Search: What’s the difference?

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