To Optimize Or Advertise?

Category: Paid Search


There are two ways a web user can stumble upon your website when utilizing a search engine- organic search and paid search. Organic search traffic comes from people finding your website in search engine results. Paid search traffic comes from visitors clicking on a link in an advertisement a business has paid for in order to appear at the top of search results. Not sure whether your business would benefit more from organic search or paid search? Keep on reading!

Organic Search

Whenever you type a question into Google, or any other search engine for that matter, the list of links that appear below the ads are known as organic search results. These results are based purely on the quality of the content, which comes from SEO efforts.

SEO is an important strategy for nearly every business type as the top ten results on the first page of Google receive 92% of all search traffic on Google. In general, SEO drives brand awareness, helps you gain credibility and trust, and increase website traffic.

Now nothing is without its cons and there are some with SEO. If you are just starting out, and the keywords you are targeting are also being used by big-name brands, you may have a hard time appearing on the first page or getting clicks. It takes about three to six months of investing in SEO to start seeing movement in search rankings and most people don’t want to wait that long.

Paid Search

Now, let’s look at paid search. There are several benefits to it. One being the position on the page. Paid search dominates above-the-fold. With four ads on desktop and three on mobile, a user will always see paid search ads even if they choose to scroll past them.

As we noted above, businesses generally have a hard time getting started with SEO, and paid search can help them achieve their marketing goals instantly when done correctly.

You have a lot of control over the way you get in front of potential customers with paid search. Ads can be targeted by keywords, time of day, day of the week, geography, language, device, and by users who have previously visited your site. This is great as it enables you to always get in front of the right people and not waste money. You don’t get these options with organic search granted SEO is free. While reaping the benefits of SEO can take time, a paid search campaigns can be created in days and start garnering results in weeks. As the name suggests, paid search does require constant investment. The moment you stop paying, your ads will go away.

SEO is free so if you take a month off optimizing your site you probably won’t see much impact on your search rankings. We should note you should make both SEO and paid search ongoing. Check out this blog post we wrote about why SEO is an ongoing service).

Another con of paid search is bidding wars with other advisers can drive up your costs and spend your budget quicker. 

In Conclusion

If you’re looking for the quickest results, paid search is the route to go, but if you’re looking for a cost effect solution organic search is best. As we said before, SEO is free, whereas traffic from paid search has a cost for each click. When it comes to our clients, we always suggest they spend no less than $500 per month. In many cases, we believe a combination of both SEO and paid search can help businesses thrive. We have several clients that invest in both, and as a result, search engine marketing is one of their biggest sources of lead generation. 

We hope you enjoyed today’s post. Learn more about search engine marketing here.

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