The Difference Between Organic Search and Paid Search

I’m guessing you’ve come across the terms organic search and paid search (well I believe that’s why you are here) and most often you are baffled about what they mean and the difference between them. Well, as a new business owner or having an existing one and planning or hoping to improve your online presence you need to be able to differentiate them as this will directly influence how your business is showcased and perceived online.

In this post, I’m going to answer this question and also outline the benefit of utilizing both channels for your business.

When a search engine like Google returns search results, it returns two types; the organic search and paid search, the paid search being the first few results on the search results page or SERP (sometimes the first two or three), and they are sometimes placed to the right of the organic results, labeled “Ad”.

Organic Search

First of all, taking the word “Organic” means; to be characterized by gradual or natural development, this is one of many meanings.

Organic Search and Paid Search
Organic Search

So what is an organic search result? Organic search results are basically web page listings that are most closely matched the user’s search query based on the relevance of the page. They are also called “natural” search results in the sense that the search engine algorithm analyzing all the pages across the internet felt these returned pages contain the most relevant and useful information for the search which is why it ranked them highly for the query(keywords) the user typed and this is what SEO is all about.

This algorithm scanned through the page for things like (title tags, meta descriptions, your URL, keywords, quality of the content, etc.) and the more relevant it found the content to be, the higher the ranking. So to get your pages to rank higher you have to optimize for those properties listed above and more. I don’t want to go into any technical details, that will be for another post.

Paid Search

The word “Paid” sure has a ring to it if I may say. Paid search results are advertisements paid for by businesses or website owners in order to rise above the organic results in the fastest way possible. Although, even if you pay to show up a lot of things still come into play to actually show up.

Paid Search

Marketers or business owners invest money into something called Search Engine Marketing (or SEM) in order to boost their website for the first page when someone searches for a query relating to their chosen keywords. Paid results will usually appear first on the SERP with a small outlined “Ad” label.

What you should know about organic and paid traffic

Organic traffics are widely considered the most valuable traffic source because taking Google for instance;

Google directs the highest amount of traffic to a lot of websites on the internet and they are the most trusted source for people researching.

Google takes its ranking very seriously (because its credibility also lies there), they have to provide relevant results to its user’s queries, and ranking in the top five results for a particular search query or keyword indicates that your content is a high-quality one.

The results on the Google SERP (the Top 10) receive 92% of all search traffic on Google and this drops by 95% on the second page.

But the downside as always, organic traffic takes time (a lot) and an hour to get indexed by the search engines and start getting and generating traffic, and when this happens it is all worth it. Before now ranking well on Google wasn’t difficult, but things have changed, every business has or planning to have a website and also wants to get ranked, so getting the SEO service and a good search engine optimizer (SEOs) is very important to stand out in this competitive market.

Paid search is they are, you basically pay a platform to show your ads when a certain query is searched for and this platform carries out some “calculations” to determine if it’s relevant to the user’s query (keyword) and it goes through some bidding and auctioning process before showing up. I ran through that quickly because that’s what it is.

It’s good for a lot of things also as you don’t have to wait, good for brand awareness, and also get your business in front of the audience quickly.


Organic search is more cost-effective as you don’t have to pay for it in a long run. In contrast, with the right strategy and content, your campaign using paid media and landing page optimization paid search can be cost-effective also. If your business goal is to make it easy for your potential customer to find you online, then a strong marketing strategy would take advantage of both the organic and paid search medium, which will deliver the best results and have new potential customers discover your business in no time


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