By Charles Richardson

How Paid Search and Organic Search Both Shape Your Marketing Strategy

You may not realize it, but search engines are an integral part of our daily lives. Think of how often you turn to Google (or another search engine like Bing or Yahoo) to find a product, service, or business. Internet Live Stats  estimates that Google processes 3.5 billion searches per day, or more than 1.2 trillion every year. Because of this, being prominently featured on the search engine results page (SERP) is critical for businesses at every stage of the sales funnel, from awareness to action.

And the higher your website’s ranking on the SERP, the better. Here’s why: According to Search Engine People, the traffic share of the first result on a SERP is roughly 33%. The second result receives about 15% of traffic, the third 9%, and so on. Search Engine People also estimates that first-page SERPs receive 75% of the total traffic share of a keyword search. Bottom line, if your business’s website doesn’t show up on a SERP until page two or later, you’ve got a problem.

So how can you boost your website’s position on search engines? This is a question we are often asked, because, as the numbers above demonstrate, everyone wants their website to be at the top of a SERP. There are two tactics marketers use: organic search and paid search. Both have their merits and are necessary to effectively attract specific audiences.

Organic Search

Organic search results are what “naturally” appear when you type a query into Google. They are based on your content’s relevancy to the keyword search and the quality of your website, as determined by a highly complex algorithm. So the more useful your website is deemed to be, the higher it will appear in SERPs. Traffic that results from these searches is considered organic search traffic and is essentially “free” search.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is composed of various strategies that will improve a website’s ranking and visibility on SERPs, thus increasing organic and “free” search traffic. SEO components include title tags, image tags, keywords, link structure, and backlinks, as well as visitor behavior, website structure, website design, among other elements.

Paid Search

Paid search results are advertorial search results that appear at the top of a SERP — even above the organic results — because someone paid for them to be displayed there. A common type of paid search is pay-per-click (PPC), which is exactly what it sounds like: each time someone clicks your search ad, you pay the search engine a defined amount. The cost to display the ad and the cost per click depend on how competitive that keyword search is.

Organic search and paid search isn’t an either/or question; to be successful in today’s digital landscape, businesses need both.

Organic search traffic is valuable for a few reasons. Search engines like Google are considered reliable sources, so when websites appear at the top of the SERP, the user assumes that those results are the most relevant to what was queried, because they trust Google. Users are also likely to perceive organic search results as more legitimate than paid search results, so they generally receive the large majority of clicks. Also, organic search results are evergreen and have a longevity that paid searches do not. If a marketer continues to implement an effective SEO strategy to your website, then it should continue to rise on the SERPs or further separate itself from other websites while it remains near the top.

Marketers use a variety of long-term SEO strategies. Additional content often needs to be created so that a marketer can continue to optimize around it. Your website will require regular updates and new posts so that your content remains informative, relevant, and helpful to users. This, of course, all requires significant time, energy, and patience. It can be months before you see a significant payoff. But the rewards of being on the first page of a search engine — or, even better, in a top-three spot — are worth it.

In addition to continuing to work on SEO, investing in paid search can help move you forward more rapidly. Through paid search and PPC ads, you can pay to be on page one today. That instant exposure for your business is a quick way to attract potential customers. Paid search can also be an effective decision if your business is new to the market and still establishing a presence. In the meantime, while you get the benefits of paid search, you can continue to develop your organic strategy by testing landing pages and keyword matches.

An effective digital agency will integrate both paid search and organic search strategies to create a comprehensive digital marketing program. The choice is not between organic or paid; marketers have to use both. Balancing the strengths and weaknesses between the two approaches is essential to driving new leads and attracting prospective customers. Marketers should be able to leverage metrics and analytics to let you know what is working and what is not. From there, they can make informed decisions to further shape your digital marketing approach.

Learn more about why paid and organic search are important for your business
We’d love to hear your story and learn about your brand — and the specific goals and objectives for the short and long term. Perhaps we can help. Contact Annalynn Barnett at or call 864-627-1676.