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Organic vs. Paid Search

There are two kinds of search results: paid results and organic (or natural) results.

Paid results are those listings that require a fee for the search engine to list their link for particular keywords. The most widely used form of paid listing is Pay Per Click (PPC), where you pay each time someone clicks on the link in your advertisement. The price increases with the competitiveness of the keyword. Google AdWords is one popular form of paid search advertisement.

Organic results are gathered by search engines’ web crawlers and ranked according to relevance to the search terms. This relevance is calculated by criteria such as extent of keyword match and number of sites linking to that website. It is much more valuable to be listed highly in the organic results than in the PPC advertisements.

Benefits of organic results:
• No cost -- organic results are listed based on the search engine’s measure of your relevance and quality, not your advertising dollars, so you don’t pay a “tax” per click
• Get more traffic -- most people click the organic search results, not the paid advertisements
• Get visitors with a higher education -- research shows those who click on organic search results more often have a higher level of education
• Longer lasting rank and traffic -- search engines record your ranking history, helping you rank highly in the future, and they only reevaluate your rank every few weeks or months, allowing you to maintain your rank longer

Benefits of paid results:
• More control over the keywords you hit on -- you select them, not the search engine
• Targeted traffic -- you can easily select time periods, geographic areas and more
• You can pause your campaign and restart later -- perfect if you are overwhelmed with orders (wishful thinking!)
• Immediate results -- campaigns start almost immediately, vs several months to be listed organically

Both have their purposes, and are great tools for any web site marketing program.

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