Pardon us for asking such an obvious question, but: what's the difference between paid search and organic search when it comes to Google?
Of course one you pay for and the other you don't - that's in the names. But beyond that, how else are they different? How do they work, and most importantly: which is better?
At Captivate Digital, we offer both Melbourne SEO services and PPC services, and we believe that both components together form a solid online marketing strategy.
Here's a quick synopsis on organic vs paid search:
What is Paid Search Advertising (PPC, SEM)?
Paid search advertising is also known as search engine marketing (SEM) or pay-per-click advertising (PPC). Digital marketing agencies often refer to it by their acronyms SEM or PPC, so if you've ever worked with one before then you may have heard of these terms.
The idea behind paid search is that you pay to see your website included on Google search results, specifically at the top of the first page. These paid search entries are marked with an 'Ad' next to them so that people know that they're showing up because they were paid for, and not necessarily because they are the top results for a Google search.
As per the name pay-per-click, you pay each time someone clicks on your ad. When you first set up the ad on Google AdWords, you can specify a maximum amount per click (bid), and a maximum amount for the whole campaign (budget) - that way you're not quickly burning through your advertising budget. Naturally, the higher bids are the ones whose websites make it to the top of Google's paid search results.
Paid search results have 'Ad' written next to them.
One major pro to paid search is that it's a quick and easy way to make your website visible to people who are searching for certain keywords.
However, there are several cons to consider as well. First, PPC is not a sustainable marketing strategy unless you have unlimited funds you can continue to use indefinitely for paid search advertising. If you stop paying for advertising, then your website will no longer appear at the top of Google search results. Ouch.
Also, bear in mind that many people have become so accustomed to seeing ads online that they automatically tune them out when scrolling down a page. That means they won't even think about clicking on the paid search results.
What is Organic Search (SEO)?
Organic search is driven by search engine optimisation (SEO).
Organic search results appear just below the paid ads at the top of the Google search results page. These are the websites Google's algorithm has deemed the most relevant to the user's search query: you know, the pages that are full of quality content related to the searched keywords, which often have a high domain authority, plenty of backlinks, a sound organisational structure... the list goes on.
Organic search results don't have 'Ad' written next to them.
SEO helps websites increase their organic search rankings for certain keywords. The great thing about this is that once you've done the optimising work on your site and start appearing in the search rankings, you can expect to stay there for awhile without having to pay for the privilege.
Of course, SEO is an ongoing process so it's not a *set it and forget it* sort of thing. Our Melbourne SEO services include ongoing SEO maintenance, if you don't have the knowledge or bandwidth to take care of it on your own.
Paid vs Organic Search: Which is Better?
As we stated at the start of this article, we believe that both paid search advertising and organic search have a place in any business marketing strategy.
In short: paid search yields more short-term gains while SEO (when done well) leads to long-term, sustainable gains. You can throw money at ads for as long as you want to see results, or you can invest time in optimising your pages and posts and then sit back and rest while your website sits firmly on Page 1 of Google.