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Paid vs Organic Search – is one really better than the other?

When work is complete on your new website or you’ve just started to take on the huge process of SEO in hopes of developing your existing website’s reach, you will be faced with a pretty big decision – whether to focus on organic or paid marketing? Organic and paid marketing are two important aspects of marketing and are vital in helping you to grow your business’s reach in the online space. 

At a glance, paid search and organic search are two important aspects of SEO and search engine marketing.

Paid search, or paid ads, is a method that requires you to purchase keyword-based advertising to bring in more customers. It is one of the fastest and easiest ways to reach a mass audience for your website or blog page. This is usually expensive given the ratio of monthly searches and competition from popular brands – creating a higher PPC (pay per click) for the brand looking to attract visitors that may not even purchase a product from their platform. This will end up costing them 1000s upon 1000s of pounds with no sales in return. If you are thinking of choosing this form of advertising, ask yourself, do I have a product that will sell with just a headline? What competition is out there? Can I afford to pay for this pay per click strategy?

Alternatively, organic search is the process of creating traffic through keywords and the Google Search Engine Results Page (commonly referred to as SERP). It is a great way to build a proper foundation of visitors and repeat sales through SEO, but this can take many months and will not guarantee success, especially in a globally recognised marketing like eCommerce or fashion. Organic search requires you to do vast amounts of research, testing and prediction to even begin work on tailored content, products, and website layout. Before you try giving organic SEO a go, make sure you have the time, patience and drive to make your online presence the best that it can be.

Pay Per Click (PPC) Marketing

Pay per click marketing (PPC) is a form of marketing that allows a marketer to pay a fee each time someone clicks on one of their ads online. In its basic form, it allows a marketer to pay for more visitors to their site rather than taking the long road through organic search by jumping their website or link right to the top of a search engine before the first organic search even appears. 

The advantages and drawbacks of taking on Paid search

The major advantage that paid search has over organic search is that it allows you to directly target your audience with specific keywords within preset parameters. If you have just created a new website, or are finding blogging tricky, instead of waiting weeks and possibly months for positive results in organic search you can place keyword ads and content exactly where your audience is already searching.

The biggest drawback of paid search is that potential customers can continue to be just that, potential customers, and you are billed for every click you get through to your website link. Not every paid search will equal an item or service purchase on your site so you can expect costs to be very high before you can start to make paid advertising viable through a quality return on investment. With these results coming first on the search results page, potential searchers may feel as though they are being forced to view these results, making them less likely to engage fully with your site.

Benefits of online paid ads 

  • High click-through rate by design 
  • Can work on a budget (dependent on your industry) 
  • Gets you on top of Google’s search results for the chosen keyword(s) with just a few clicks
  • Paid marketing is scalable, allowing you to spend more or less depending on your needs

Drawbacks of online paid ads

  • A costly short-term strategy, especially for higher-cost keywords
  • If you stop paying for PPC, you start back at square one (with none of the traffic in the future)
  • Paid marketing is very costly at the start, and you won’t see a significant Return on Investment (ROI) for some time 
  • The industry you are in matters, higher competition can increase the price of each click drastically
  • ROI conversions can be hit or miss, massive costs for a small amount of return, especially if the bounce rate is high 
  • Paid ads require a large amount of skill and training to be used effectively
Wooden blocks with letters on them spelling 'keywords'

Organic keyword building

Organic keywords are the major focus of SEO ranking and dictate not only your ranking on Google, but can greatly affect the type and format of your content and website layout.

The two common forms of keywords are:

  • Short-tail keywords
  • Long-tail keywords

Keywords are essentially the focus words related to the content that you search for on search engines such as Google. Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords are keywords related to the topic of your page or blog topic; these types of keywords are looking for more of a topic match instead of a keyword match. Google ranks your page/blog through the Panda search filter by looking for relevant and consistent Short-tail, long-tail and LSI keywords. 

The idea is that you would naturally include them as you write. So by simply writing naturally, you will have found them. In short, they are keywords that are related to your main term. They help support your content and give it more context for both the search engines and your users.

Infographics and blogs are two different forms of content that serve similar purposes, to inform, to educate and to drive traffic (hopefully leading to new clients and customers).

Infographics are concise and focused on imagery to provide information; blogs are long-form pieces of content that highlight a topic in great detail. Social media platforms benefit from shorter, picture-based content as they draw the eye; blogs are better served for online platforms that can use the content to drive traffic through search engine optimisation.
Multimedia content encompasses a wide range of content options, including video, audio, images, text and interactive media. This allows you to create a wide range of combined content to appeal to the widest possible audience. Use a mix of all media types to get the most out of the content you create.

The advantages and drawbacks of taking on organic search

The major advantage that organic search has over paid search is that it allows you to build up your information and brand over time with no upfront cost. You can make a start on any piece of content with the keywords that you want to use in the form of a blog post, landing post, case studies and infographics and create a user experience that is wholly unique and authentic given that it is written by you for your audience.

One major drawback is the amount of time it takes to fully optimise and set up an organic campaign, it will multiple pieces of high-quality content and customer retention to make the hard work worth it, it can take many months to see proper results from your latest blog or landing page, especially when compared to the paid marketing model.

Other benefits of organic search 

  • Quality leads with high audience/customer retention
  • Works well on any and all budget types
  • Multiple avenues for traffic gain
  • Can work well with other types of marketing including CRM (customer relationship marketing) 
  • Gets you on top of Google’s search results for your chosen keywords which will make future keyword growth easy
  • Allows you to tailor your content to your keywords with no cap on creativity

Drawbacks of organic search

  • A long-term strategy, especially for high search volume keywords with high domain authority competition
  • The industry can change very quickly, so rankings can be gained and lost very easily – think of it as a stock market, you’ve got to be watching and improving to stay at the top 
  • Organic search requires a heavy amount of customer trust, large changes to branding and content could negatively affect Search Engine Results Page (SERP) rankings 
  • Organic search requires a large amount of skill and training to be used effectively
Graphs that are tracking SEO

Monitoring the success of your organic/paid search campaign

When you come to the end of any marketing campaign, measurement and evaluation can provide you with a review of your success, the strategies you used and perhaps the weaknesses that you can improve on future campaigns.

If your campaign has been considered a failure, you can evaluate why you failed the steps you can take to make sure it doesn’t occur again.

When measuring your success at the end of your campaign, the two areas you can review are SMART targets and ROI. SMART targets (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) are a way to outline future success by taking into account your previous campaigns, they should be clearly defined, measurable and realistic.

Your ROI (return on investment) can be used to measure the performance of your campaign from a monetary perspective, having your campaign be both efficient and effective is important as it will shape the planning and execution of future campaigns. 

So which one is right for your business?

If you are looking to make a start on your SEO and website marketing, we would highly recommend that you focus on organic search – organic marketing is free and will allow you to build a physical presence online. If you are an already established business or just want to quickly and easily build your online presence, paid marketing could be a better option for you as it provides faster results. However, both organic and paid search requires a significant amount of training and support to work well – so a mixture of organic and paid search platforms may be the best option for beginners and advanced digital marketers alike. 

In conclusion, both methods have their pros and cons, so the final decision is one that you must make for you and your business.

No strings attached, free and impartial advice to support your business. If you need help with your website, social media or want general support. This consultation could be for you. 



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