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Organic vs Paid SEO: An In-Depth Comparison


In today’s world of consumers searching the World Wide Web for quick answers, Google is the go-to place where their solutions can be discovered. This search engine has two completely different, yet equally valuable, sources for websites to be discovered in Internet searches: organic search and paid search.

We often get asked which is better, but to properly answer this question we need to take an in-depth look at both options. Keep in mind, we will be talking about organic search as search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search as search engine marketing (SEM).

Organic SEO

Organic search is another term use to talk about organic SEO, which are the list of links that appear on a search engine below the ads. If you know anything about SEO, you know that these links are ranked in order based on the quality of content on a page and relevance to a search.

In short, organic traffic is considered to be more valuable than paid traffic for the following reasons:

  • Google is the WWW’s most trusted source for people researching a solution, purchase or anything else in between.
  • Google is extremely particular about how their search results are ranked, and if you’re webpage is ranked on the first page of search results it shows it has high-quality content.
  • The results on the first page of Google will receive over 90% of all search traffic on Google.

Of course, there is one major downside of organic SEO – it does take some time to get indexed and generate real traffic. If you’re looking to get noticed quickly online, you may need to look into paid search. However, it is good to know that the benefits will pay off in the long run. Consider these stats:

  • Over 50% of B2B marketers say organic SEO has the largest influence on lead generation.
  • Leads acquired from organic search have a 14.6% closing rate, and that is 13% higher than outbound marketing leads (which are acquired through seminars, trade shows, cold calling, etc.).
  • People who are most eager to spend money for their solution are more likely to turn to organic search for more information.
  • There are 1.2 trillion Google searches annually, and 78% of these U.S. Internet users are researching both products and services online.

Google is not only rooted into our buying behavior, but our lives. Until, or unless, another universal technique for searching the Internet comes along, Google’s SEO and organic traffic importance is not likely to lighten up.

Paid Search

SEM is defined as, “a form of Internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) primarily through paid advertising.” In Google’s world, these are the top links you see on a search results page, above those links that have earned their spot on a page organically.

While SEM may seem like “the easy way out” for online marketing, paid search has become more and more popular for website owners. These ads look like organic search results, despite having a little box that says “ad” next to it. It looks so similar that many people are not aware that they are paid ads. SEO company in Nashville will turn your website into the rock-solid foundation needed to please Google, increase engagement, and keep customers happy.

Also, as people work to make their websites more SEO-friendly, they naturally become more competitive, which leads to higher competition. Rather than waiting for your website’s SEO to build up, you have an immediate chance to get seen on the first page of Google.

This is not to say you simply have to set up a campaign and “sit back and watch your money grow;” SEM does take just as much work as SEO. There are a lot of bidding strategies you need to take into consideration, and you’ll need to take a tactical review on what it is you want these ads to accomplish. If executed correctly, though, you’ll instantly see more exposure, traffic and conversions.

If case you were wondering, Google AdWords is highly effective for businesses big and small. Google’s pay-per-click (PPC) program generates about 70% of their revenue, which should tell you something about its effectiveness! Even with producing revenue from YouTube, Android and their other profitable brands, AdWords takes the cake when it comes to profit.

So, What Should My Website Focus On?

Alright, you’ve heard our cases for both sides, but what it all comes down to are your personal goals for your website and/or your business.

Typically, it takes anywhere from three to six months to start seeing upward results in organic search rankings, which is too long for some people to wait. SEM will help get traffic to your website as soon as today and could speed the optimizing process for your landing pages, which will pay off drastically in the long run. However, SEO does have a lot of long-term benefits too and will stand the test of time longer than SEM.

Take a look at your business’s timeline and budget. If you’re looking for fast results, paid search is better for your business. If you’re looking for a more cost-effective solution, focus your time on SEO.

Remember: It’s okay to experiment! You don’t need to stick to one solution; take some time to test each option and define what’s best for you.

To learn more about SEM and SEO, contact GreenMellen Media today!

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Brooke Desmond

Communications Manager
With a passion for all things digital marketing, Brooke aims to give a unique perspective on the latest trends and ideas in this ever-changing space.

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