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  • Writer's picturePremier Marketing

The Difference Between Paid Search vs Organic Search

Updated: Nov 22, 2019

When it comes to brands and businesses out there a lot of them know (or think they know) that they need SEO for the great benefits that it provides digitally. Over 94% of Internet users use search engines to find what they're looking for, meaning that if you're a business looking to grow and expand, traffic coming from search engines are vital.

With Google being the biggest search engine out there many people are trying to figure out the secrets needed to be successful. The common thing that people look at when trying to use a search engine platform is whether organic or paid search is the better option. Below you should expect to gain clarity, regardless of the industry that you're in or the size of your business, as to what's the difference between organic and paid search and how it can bring your brand to the next level.

What is Paid Search

Paid search is a process that most search engines like, Google, Bing, and Yahoo use that allow advertisers to show their ads at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs).

How it works is paid search operates on a pay-per-click business model. This means exactly how it sounds - until someone clicks on your ad, you don't pay a thing! In doing so you are able to have a lot more control in how you handle your money and can make much more calculated decisions.

What is Organic Search

Organic search (otherwise known as natural search) is every search result on a search engine results page (SERP) that is earned rather than being paid for. When it comes to organic search results relevancy to the keyword is one of the biggest factors for where you rank.

While there are over 200 possible ranking factors for Google. The content that you put out, the loading speed of the page, and the amount of recognized backlinks that a website has are some of the biggest factors for if a webpage will rank highly for organic searches on the SERP.

Organic Search


  • Consistent Results: Rewards are much better when ranking organically because 75% of people never scroll past the first page of search results. This is great for businesses because if they are able to get their webpage and content ranked high on the SERP then they will receive 24/7 promotion of their site and can constantly bring in consistent traffic and results.

  • It's Free!: Organic search will always be free. Search engines don't charge you for having your website pop up in results. However, when it comes to ranking high on the SERP & being relevant as a web presence it takes a lot of time and effort. The problem with a lot of businesses though is time is money, and some businesses simply can't dedicate time to improving their organic search results. Of course, a good solution for these businesses is to hire an SEO firm to do it for them. This normally makes it much easier to generate results while also being able to measure the ROI.

  • It's Better Favored by Search Algorithms: When it comes to search engines, organic traffic often stays a longer time, & has a much lower bounce rate than traffic from both social media and from paid searches. Google has over 200 ranking factors for its algorithms. But through prioritizing some of the factors above, you'll be able to get the algorithms for Google and other search engines to differentiate whether your website is hot - or not.

  • Trustworthy: People that search the internet trust organic results a lot more than paid ads. They are more likely to click on the top organic listings than a ad. A big reason that people trust these websites are because they have authority and typically offer a great user experience ultimately making Google view these websites as credible sources.


  • Long-Term Investment: Ranking as one of the most relevant websites for a search, especially one that's competitive, can take some time. You may not see results for days, weeks, or months. You have to be ready to invest time and money without seeing results until later down the road.

  • Lack of Control: While organic search is one of the best ways to get noticed. There are a lot of factors that the search engine operates that you have no control over. For example, what your competition does, or Google's constant changing preferences for search rankings are all out of your control.

  • Geological Differences: In Google when it comes to the SERP, depending on your location of the search there will be different results. Furthermore, if you were to make a search while logged into and account, and then repeat that search while logged out. What you will notice is that there will be different search results. This isn't magic or something random though. The reason for this is because Google and other search engines will take into account the sites that you've previously visited, along with where you are located, and even the device that you used before even bringing up the search results. Because of this it isn't definite whether or not your page results will be consistent as location and past searches does matter and does change results.

  • Unknown Updates: Google is very secretive when they roll out updates. This is a problem because these updates are released with little or no warning and if your website doesn't match the new updates, they have the ability to take everything that you've done for your website and rank it much lower than before. This can be very devastating, but with good content and solid white-hat SEO methods you can help protect the work on your site.

Paid Search


  • Instant: Need traffic today? Paid ads brings in traffic at a scale much faster than ranking organically on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). In fact, 41% of clicks go to the top three paid ads on the SERP.

  • Clear-Cut ROI: When it comes to paid search there's a lot of data that's behind it. Through setting up goals and conversions (especially for e-commerce sites) you can make a significant ROI by directly linking your marketing dollars to your returns.

  • Controlled Cost: Once you set up payment with the search engine, you can then set budgets and dictate the limit that you spend on a given day or month to ensure that you don't go over budget. Furthermore, you can also manage each individual keyword bid to help target keywords that'll give you a higher return.

  • Targeting: With paid search there are a lot of targeting options that you can take to get great results. You can control everything from the interests of people, to specific locations, to network targeting. With all these ways to target your customer it makes spending your advertisings dollars much more efficient. In fact, targeted PPC ads are so influential that for people looking to purchase a product, paid ads get 65% of all the clicks.

  • Bigger Intent Level: When looking at people trying to buy something. PPC (Pay-Per-Click) visitors because they have much higher intent of purchasing than inorganic visitors are 50% more likely to purchase something.


  • Competition: Depending on the keyword, it is really expensive to get started with paid searches. Increased competition in businesses using PPC has made costs go up. This also means that with this competition companies that have a higher budget and more manpower are more likely to have dominate positions in the market.

  • Ongoing management: For paid search traffic there is no hands-off approach. I mean sure, it is possible for you to just create an ad and let it run with very little interference and you may be able to generate some traffic. In reality when it comes to getting your ads to be successful. Optimizing your ads so that you're reaching the right target audience and spending little in your budget is typically what you should be doing if you're looking to have the most success with PPC. A great way to make sure that you're managing & optimizing your ads properly is by going to Google AdWords and viewing the search terms that triggered your ad. If by any means you see terms that don't relate to your business don't freak out and think that Google is robbing you as this is very common. Through viewing these search terms and even adding negative keywords when needed. This will help keep your ads showing in front of the right audience and also help preserve your budget.

  • Zero Organic Effect: Paid search has no effect whatsoever on how a website ranks organically. For example, if a website ranks organically on page 12 of Google but has a high Google AdWords budget then the website could still have a huge amount traffic coming in from paying. However, once the user stops paying for ads the paid traffic that they were getting will dry up and the website will go back to relying on its organic traffic to bring in leads.

Which Method is Best for My Business?

When it comes to you deciding which option is better, it is great to know that organic search traffic will be something consistent that you know that you could always rely on. Furthermore, when it comes to organic content the chances that you'll grow from updating and improving on your posts is significantly higher. People that continue to optimize and improve their content are generally rewarded by Google.

Paid search traffic on the other hand makes it a lot easier and much faster for someone to get traffic to their website. The ability for a business to get instant traffic or leads is a form of inbound marketing that isn't comparable to any other marketing platform (ex, social media, or email marketing). If you do dive into PPC though you should definitely have a marketing budget to dedicate. For most business types, PPC brings great results for businesses that can spend at least $50-$100 per day on clicks. If you spend any less than this then there is a possibility that you will lose your return on investment, as not everyone that clicks on your ad will convert to a buyer.

Conclusion - So Who Wins the Battle?

Naturally every business owner wants to know, what option is the best for my business. The truth of the matter is that for certain types of businesses, either paid search or organic search could be enough. However, through the use of both PPC and SEO together it is clear that your business would benefit much better and at a faster rate. Implementing the strategies above will optimize your marketing campaigns and will surely make your business much more efficient and effective. If your brand is capable and has the means, then PPC should definitely be an avenue you should take as your SEO will take a bit to start ranking.

So, what do you think about the search methods above? Would you prefer using organic search, paid search, or a mixture of the two for your brand? Please leave a comment below.

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