Organic vs Paid Search in 2023: Boost Your Online Presence with a Balanced Strategy

Organic & Paid Search In 2023

In an increasingly competitive digital landscape, businesses must constantly adapt and evolve their online strategies to stay ahead. One key area of focus is search marketing, which can be divided into two main branches: organic and paid search. In this blog post, we will explore the differences between organic and paid search in 2023, while highlighting the benefits of leveraging both strategies to enhance your online presence, generate more leads, and ultimately, increase revenue. So, whether you’re a business owner, marketing professional, or decision-maker looking to improve your online visibility, join us as we dive into the world of search marketing and uncover the best practices for success in 2023.

Understanding Organic Search in 2023

In 2023, organic search continues to play a crucial role in helping businesses improve their online visibility and drive traffic to their websites. Search engine optimization (SEO) remains the backbone of organic search efforts, focusing on optimizing website content and structure to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant keywords.

Quality content

Quality content and user experience are more important than ever, as search engines prioritize websites that provide valuable, informative content and a seamless browsing experience for users. This includes making sure your website loads quickly, has a clean and intuitive design, and is easily navigable.

Emphasis on SEO

As technology advances, search engines are becoming more sophisticated and adept at understanding users’ search intent. Companies will need to optimize their websites for both desktop and mobile devices, create content that is tailored to their customers’ needs, and focus on local SEO to ensure their business is visible in local search results. Companies must implement SEO strategies that are tailored to their specific goals and market in order to remain visible in the ever-changing digital landscape.

E-E-A-T

The founding principles in which Google ranks content - E-E-A-T
The founding principles in which Google ranks content - E-E-A-T

Google’s principles of E-E-A-T (Experience,Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) are designed to help the search engine effectively evaluate webpages. Experience is the degree at which the author has personally experienced or lived through an event. Experience is the most recent component added to the acronym. Expertise is the level of knowledge and experience that an author has on the topic they are writing about. Authoritativeness is how credible and reliable the authors of the content are, while Trustworthiness is the degree of confidence that a reader should have in the content. By abiding by these principles, website owners can improve the quality of their content and ensure that their website will be more likely to appear in Google’s search results.

Website architecture & mobile-friendliness

Website architecture and mobile-friendliness are essential components of organic search success. A well-structured website with a clear hierarchy of pages and content aids search engines in indexing your site and understanding its relevance to specific search queries. As more users access the internet through mobile devices, ensuring your website is mobile-friendly and responsive is vital to maintaining visibility in organic search results.

User Intent

The 4 types of user intent are navigational, informational, commercial and transactional
The 4 types of user intent are navigational, informational, commercial and transactional

User intent is the purpose behind why a user is searching for something, and can be divided into four distinct categories: navigational, informational, commercial and transactional. By taking into account the user intent behind a search query, search engines can better match a user’s query with the most relevant search results. For example, a user searching for “Italian restaurant” is likely looking for a restaurant to visit, so the search engine will display local Italian restaurants in the area. By understanding user intent, search engines can provide more helpful and accurate search results, giving users a better experience.

Google's 2023 Algorithm Update

Google‘s 2023 Algorithm update is expected to be a major shift in the way the search engine works. It promises to be more intelligent and better able to recognize user intent. It will also be more efficient in providing relevant content that meets the user‘s needs. The update will use artificial intelligence and machine learning to better comprehend user‘s queries and provide more accurate results. Google is also expected to include more natural language processing capabilities and semantic understanding to better interpret user searches. With the update, Google plans to provide more personalized and tailored results that are more aligned with user intent. 

Backlinking

Building authority through backlinks and social signals remains a key factor in organic search rankings. Earning high-quality backlinks from reputable sources helps signal to search engines that your website is a trusted and valuable resource. Additionally, social signals, such as shares, likes, and comments on social media, contribute to your website’s perceived authority and can impact organic search rankings.

Artificial Intelligence

2023 will likely see a significant increase in the use of AI and generative content in SEO. AIassisted tools such as ChatGPT can help content teams to create SEO-friendly content faster, while AI-generated images can reduce the cost of stock imagery. As such, it is important to measure the impact of AI-generated content on rankings over time.

Understanding Paid Search in 2023

In 2023, paid search remains a vital component of online marketing strategies for businesses seeking immediate results and increased visibility. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, the primary form of paid search, allows businesses to bid on specific keywords, ensuring their ads appear when users search for those terms. Google Ads is the most popular platform, but other options like Bing Ads and social media advertising platforms also play significant roles in the paid search landscape.

Keyword research and targeting are crucial aspects of a successful paid search campaign. By identifying and bidding on relevant, high-performing keywords, businesses can ensure their ads reach the right audience. Ad formats vary across platforms, allowing advertisers to choose from text, image, video, or interactive ads. Crafting compelling ad copy that resonates with the target audience is essential, as it encourages users to click on the ad and engage with the brand.

Google Ads changes often and it is important for any search engine marketing professional to stay up to date with them. In 2023, there are nine key updates to note, such as:

1. Changes to audience targeting

Google Ads will phase out their Similar Audience (Similar Segments) feature for targeting and reporting in May 2023. Campaigns with active similar segments have until August 1st to take advantage of this tool before it is officially removed from all ad groups and campaigns going forward. This update is designed to help brands maximize the potential of their targeting, making google advertisements more effective than ever before.

2. Expanded text & Smart Shopping

Google Ads have sunsetted expanded text ads and smart shopping ads back in 2022. Responsive search ads have now become the standard for Google Search ads, leaving Expanded text ads firmly in the past. Smart Shopping ads have been upgraded to Performance Max campaigns, providing businesses with a powerful tool to help them in todays digital world.

3. Audio advertisements for Youtube

Google Ads has recently announced the addition of audio ads on YouTube. This opens up a new opportunity for advertisers, as they can unobtrusively target YouTube listeners through music and podcast placements.

4. Highlighted business names and logos

new addition to Google ads: highlighted Business name & logo

Google is committed to making its search results more intuitive by providing visual-first experiences. To further this goal, Google recently announced design changes to both google search and google ads that highlight business names and logos in search results, making them easier to spot at a glance. 

5. Some attribution models are ceasing to exist

Google Ads and Google Analytics 4 are transitioning away from rules-based attribution models, such as first click, linear, time decay, and position-based models, in favor of data-driven attributionStarting in June 2023, users will no longer be able to select these models for conversion actions, and starting in September 2023 any conversion actions still using these models will be switched to data-driven attribution. 

Datadriven attribution is an attribution model used in Google Ads and Google Analytics 4 to understand the impact each touchpoint has on a conversion. It uses Google AI to assign value to each marketing touchpoint based on its influence on the conversion and when combined with auto bidding, datadriven attribution improves performance. It is now the mostused attribution model for conversions used for automated bidding in Google Ads.

The Overview page and Model comparison report within the Attribution tab of Google Ads will also be updated to no longer include these models. Users can still use the last click model for conversions if they do not want to use data-driven attribution.

6. New features added to Discovery ads

To help improve the effectiveness of their campaigns, Google Ads has released a series of updates to its Discovery ads. These updates include the ability to use product feeds with lifestyle images, productlevel reporting and datadriven attribution, Conversion Lift experiments, and more engaging layouts. These new updates are expected to help brands reach their goals and maximize the potential of their campaigns.

7. Performance Max campaigns

Performance max campaigns are one of the newest Google ad types

Performance Max, introduced in 2022, is an allinone campaign type that shows ads across YouTube, Display, Search, Shopping, Discover feed, Gmail, and Maps. This automated process combines all Google Ads assets in one swoop for goalbased advertising and allows all assets to be thrown into the mix with the expectation that Google will pick out the bestperforming strategy for each campaign.

8. Expand your Smart Bidding campaigns with Broad Match

Googles Smart Bidding offers incredible account growth with its machine learning technology and automation. Combining Smart Bidding with broad match keywords can maximize optimization without having to segment the bids by match type. The bidding system provided by Google Ads has advanced capabilities that enable it to assess queries on an individual basis and adjust bids accordingly in order to reach desired performance metrics.

9. New voiceover characteristics for video ads

Google has launched a range of updates to its Video ad content to provide the utmost convenience for advertisers. This includes the ability to add a voiceover to existing YouTube video ads without having to go through any additional editing or postproduction processes. Advertisers can access a selection of eight different voices (four male, four female) for their voiceovers and make all necessary edits directly within Google Ads.

Comparing Organic and Paid Search: Pros and Cons

While both are critical to a successful digital marketing strategy, organic search and paid search have some vast differences when it comes to investment, performance, credibility, and competition.

differences between organic search and paid search
differences between organic search and paid search

Investment

Investment is one key factor when comparing organic and paid search strategies.

  • Organic search requires time and resources to build a solid foundation, including quality content creation, technical optimizations, and ongoing maintenance.
  • In contrast, paid search demands a financial investment to bid on keywords and create ad campaigns that drive immediate results.

Performance

Performance is another aspect to consider when comparing the two strategies.

  • Organic search yields long-term results, as a well-optimized website can maintain its ranking and visibility over time.
  • Paid search, on the other hand, delivers quick results but can be more susceptible to fluctuations due to competition, budget changes, and other external factors.

User Trust & Credibility

User trust and credibility are also crucial in the organic vs. paid search debate.

  • Organic search listings are generally perceived as more trustworthy and credible, as they are earned through quality content and optimization efforts.
  • Paid advertisements, conversely, are marked as sponsored content and might be viewed with skepticism by some users.

Competition

Competition and market saturation further differentiate organic and paid search strategies.

  • Organic search ranking difficulty depends on the competitiveness of the target keywords and the authority of competing websites.
  • On the contrary, paid search involves bidding wars, where advertisers compete for ad placements in search results based on their bids and ad quality score.

Integrating Organic and Paid Search Strategies

Leveraging organic search to inform paid search keyword targeting is a powerful way to combine these two strategies. By analyzing the performance of your organic search efforts, you can identify high-performing keywords that convert well and drive traffic to your website. Incorporating these keywords into your paid search campaigns can help ensure your ads reach the right audience and increase the likelihood of generating clicks and conversions.

Using paid search to test and refine organic search tactics allows you to gather valuable insights on keyword performance and user behavior. By running PPC campaigns for specific keywords, you can quickly obtain data on which terms drive the most traffic and conversions. This information can then inform your organic search strategy, helping you optimize your website’s content and SEO efforts for those high-performing keywords.

Balancing budget allocation between organic and paid search initiatives is essential for maximizing the effectiveness of your overall search marketing strategy. Organic search requires a long-term commitment, as it can take several months to achieve tangible results. Paid search can produce more immediate results and mitigate the long wait times associated with organic efforts but typically requires a higher investment. By carefully allocating your budget between the two strategies, you can ensure that both your organic and paid search efforts receive the necessary resources for success.

Adapting to Ongoing Trends and Changes in Search Marketing

In the constantly evolving world of search marketing, it is crucial to stay up-to-date with the latest search engine algorithm updates. These updates can have a significant impact on both organic and paid search strategies, affecting rankings, visibility, and overall performance. Therefore, staying on top of the latest updates and adjusting your search marketing tactics accordingly is essential for maintaining visibility in both organic and paid search results.

Shifts in user behavior and search intent also play a critical role in shaping search marketing strategies. As the way people search for and consume information evolves, businesses must adjust their tactics to align with user expectations. This might involve creating more engaging and interactive content or optimizing for different types of search queries, such as those generated by voice search and AI-powered virtual assistants.

Embracing emerging technologies is another essential aspect of staying ahead in search marketing. Innovations like voice search, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are continually changing the way people interact with search engines and online content. By incorporating these technologies into their search marketing strategies, businesses can better anticipate user needs and deliver more relevant, personalized experiences.

Success Stories: Brands Excelling in Organic and Paid Search

In the competitive world of search marketing, numerous businesses have managed to excel in both organic and paid search strategies. By analyzing their success, we can learn valuable lessons and apply them to our campaigns.

VRBO

VRBO's paid search ad

One notable example is VRBO, a popular platform for booking accommodations worldwide. They have effectively optimized their website for organic search by providing unique, high-quality content and a user-friendly experience. Their focus on local SEO and long-tail keywords has helped them rank high in search results for various destinations. Additionally, VRBO has built a strong backlink profile and a significant social media presence, further boosting their organic search performance.

In parallel, VRBO has also harnessed the power of paid search through targeted Google Ads campaigns. They have utilized sophisticated targeting tactics to boost the efficacy of their campaigns and maximize ROI. By optimizing their ad formats, targeting settings, and bidding strategies, VRBO has achieved impressive results in terms of visibility, click-through rates, and return on investment.

Amazon

Amazon's organic shopping listing

Another success story comes from the e-commerce giant, Amazon. Known for its dominant organic search presence, Amazon has built a solid SEO foundation with excellent website architecture, mobile-friendly design, and an extensive catalog of product pages optimized for search. Their strategic use of long-tail keywords helps them capture a wide range of search queries, driving a high volume of targeted traffic to their site.

On the paid search front, Amazon leverages sponsored product listings and display ads to promote specific products and deals. They utilize advanced targeting options and data analysis to ensure their ads reach the right audience at the right time, maximizing conversions and ROI. Furthermore, Amazon effectively combines organic and paid search strategies by using the insights gained from their PPC campaigns to inform and refine their SEO tactics.

Maximizing Your Online Presence in 2023

A holistic approach to search marketing is essential for maximizing your online presence in 2023. By integrating both organic and paid search strategies, businesses can reap the benefits of long-term results, immediate visibility, and improved credibility. Regularly reviewing and adjusting your strategies will ensure that your online marketing efforts remain effective and up-to-date in the face of constant changes within the digital landscape.

At Redstitch, we specialize in helping businesses like yours excel in the digital space by utilizing our powerful AI platform, ConvertIQ®, and a range of marketing services tailored to your needs. Let us help you optimize your online presence, outperform your competitors, and drive customer acquisition through a well-balanced combination of organic and paid search tactics. Contact us today, and let’s work together to turn your website into a lead-generating machine and achieve the business growth you desire.

Written By: Caitlyn Kirchoff

Written By: Caitlyn Kirchoff

Caitlyn is a Digital Marketing Strategist with a reputable track record at Redstitch Digital. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and focused her major on Marketing. She has also gained certifications from Google Ads and Analytics. Caitlyn has technical skills working with PPC and SEO. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with friend and family, the outdoors, pickle ball, and local community events.

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