One of the top questions that plague all marketing strategists is: should you use paid search or organic search? Each comes with its advantages and disadvantages, but in the end, the answer is usually both.
To get to the bottom of getting organic traffic and paid traffic, it’s important to first understand the difference between paid and organic search methods. After that, you should look at why paid and organic search can work for specific business goals. This guide will examine these factors and explain how using both types of search strategies can increase your conversions, search engine ranking, and overall trust with searchers on the internet.
What is Organic Search?
Organic search focuses on unpaid search results and rankings on search engines. The goal is to create website content that will naturally rank high on sites like Google. In turn, highly-ranked sites bring in more organic traffic. To create a web page worthy of ranking high through organic search, you need to incorporate well-written meta titles and descriptions, page content, and the use of popular keywords — which are all SEO tactics. While the Google algorithm is always changing, the search engine site still concentrates on relevancy and whether web page information is useful when determining a website ranking.
Is undergoing organic search marketing worth the efforts? With 53% of web traffic coming from organic search results, it’s definitely worth looking into for your brand. The biggest advantage is the enormous costs you can save using this method over paid search marketing, though it can take much longer to get established on Google rankings.
What is Paid Search?
Paid search, on the other hand, involves paid ads that are featured on search engine result pages (SERPs). They are usually shown as the first results you see after performing a search query and often are accompanied by the word “ad.” Advertisers bid for high spots on SERPs using tools like Adwords. They then focus on using the most relevant keywords to ensure they continue to have a high ranking and remain useful on the search engine. The most common paid search ads are pay-per-click or PPC, where advertisers only pay when a user clicks on their ad.
As for how paid search does, consider this: paid search gains 1.5 times as many conversions as organic search. This means that while organic search may lead to many page views, paid ads receive more purchases. As a result, many brands do invest in paid search, though they usually require a high cost up front — which can be hard for brands on a tighter budget.
Pros and Cons of Organic Search
Organic search has the following benefits and drawbacks:
Pro: Little to No Cost
By far, the biggest pro to using organic search is that it costs very little — or even nothing. While you won’t have to put down any money upfront, if you want to optimize your SEO efforts, you may end up spending some money on SEO content creators, agencies, or tools.
Pro: Develop High Credibility
Ranking naturally high on SERPs gives your website more credibility as it shows that the search engine trusts that your site has handy and relevant information for the user. If you consistently rank naturally, you will also boost your brand awareness and overall authority on the subject of your site.
Pro: Ability to Target Varying Funnel Stages
Another big advantage is that with organic search, you can target consumers who are at different stages of the sales funnel. Some users will be at the very top with no intent to purchase, while others are ready to buy. You can create a large variety of SEO content that appeals to every user, rather than paid search, which is targeted to those who are ready to buy.
Con: Takes a Long Time
There’s no getting around it: organic search takes time, research, and, more often than not, trial and error. You will have to be well-versed in SEO strategies and take the time to create content that utilizes them well.
Con: Hard to Rank Highly
Search algorithms are always changing to keep up with user experience, especially Google’s. This means that you will always have to keep checking on any algorithm changes and alter your SEO strategy to match it.
Con: Requires Constant Upkeep
The work doesn’t stop after one post — you’ll have to continually optimize your web page so that it won’t lose its ranking to newer content published by competitors. This may include changes like tweaking keywords or updating old articles.
Pros and Cons of Paid Search
Paid search comes with its pros and cons as well:
- Fast results: Paid search ads are usually quickly accepted by search engines, taking very little time to be seen on the first page of a SERP. As a result, you will get results faster, whether you’re looking to bump up the number of purchases, sign-ups, or web traffic.
- Reach a targeted audience: Many paid ad programs allow you to target a specific audience with such choices as targeting by location, age, or shopping behavior. This ensures that the people you reach will find your ad more relevant to them.
- Appeal to users that are ready to buy: Even better than an interested audience is one that is ready to buy — and paid search ads appeal greatly to them. These shoppers are looking for a company that can provide a product or service when they perform their search, and if your company is one of the first options, you have a greater chance of selling to them.
- High and consistent costs: While the biggest advantage of organic search is the cost savings, the biggest disadvantage to paid search is the high price. Not only will you need to put money upfront for the ad campaign but you’ll also need to pay for all links you put up in the future, which can add up greatly.
- Less profitable long-term results: Paid search is great for short-term results but doesn’t weigh too well on long-term results. You only make money on paid search by spending on it in the first place, so you’ll have to continually pay over time in hopes of achieving the same results.
- Hard to stand out from competitors: While organic search allows for you to create a large range of content, paid search limits what kind of content you can create, making it harder to stand out from your competitors. You’ll have to rely on heavy keyword research to ensure that your ad remains relevant.
So, Which Is Better?
Both search strategies have their pros and cons, but in the end, the most successful websites use a balance of organic search and paid search. The reason? Both search methods have beneficial features that can help a site and target two different kinds of audiences. Organic search helps the casual searcher, while paid search brings in those ready to use your site, whether it’s to make a purchase or sign up for your service. The key to getting both paid and organic traffic is to leverage each search strategy to bring the biggest and longest-lasting results.
Optimizing Both Organic and Paid Search
To optimize your website using each search method and see a high return on investment (ROI), incorporate the following factors:
- Your Company Goals: Is your current goal to start making sales as fast as possible? Start with a paid search. Alternatively, if you are looking to build a loyal audience, utilize those SEO skills and strategies to make content that is useful and interesting for all internet searches.
- Data Collection: Many paid searches use ad campaign tools like Google Analytics to track and present you with extremely valuable data. For instance, see what keywords or search terms are leading to the most impressions for your site, as well as the behaviors and demographics of those who access your links. This data helps you develop both ads and SEO content that appeals to target the audience that is interested in you.
Other Marketing Channels: Don’t forget other marketing channels that can bring in both organic and paid traffic. For instance, you can post a paid ad to social media sites like Facebook or Instagram, or promote SEO content like a blog on there.
Your business goals will ultimately determine whether organic search or paid search is best for your company at the moment. For quick and fast results, opt for paid search. To build a natural audience, sharpen your SEO skills to create lasting content that will rank high on search engines. And to make the most of your site and maximize results, use a mix of two to get both groups of people interested in your web page.
Digital marketing, including organic and paid search, doesn’t have to be a complicated process. With the right plan and strategy, you will start seeing the results you deserve. Reach out to Redstitch today to learn about a customized plan to help your business flourish.