Organic vs. Paid Search | The Difference and What To Invest In

What’s the difference between paid advertising and organic placement? Should you be investing in both SEO and PPC or should you focus one versus the other? I’m going to share the same advice on whether you should invest in SEO or PPC that I do with my clients. After reading this article, you’ll leave with a better understanding of the difference between SEO and PPC and how to diversify your marketing strategy.

Difference Between Organic and Paid 

The difference between paid advertising and organic is for a paid advertisement, you have to pay for each click. For organic, your placement is earned, meaning you don’t have to pay for a click when someone clicks on your site organically. 

Organic is more profitable but can take a long time to reap the benefits. PPC advertising can drive instant results but can be costly. I’ll do a deeper dive on PPC and SEO here shortly.

Paid advertisements populate at the top of Google. You will see “Ad” next to the text. Each time someone clicks on an advertisement, the advertiser has to pay for that click and the money goes directly to Google. The hope is you convert the paid traffic into paying customers.

Anything that doesn’t have an “ad” associated with it is organic. Below you can see our agency ranks well in the local pack and in the organic search results. If someone were to click on our site in the local pack or the organic search results, we wouldn’t have to pay for that click. It’s a beautiful thing when you can accomplish this! 

Understanding Pay-Per-Click Advertising

If someone were to click on my advertisement for “Columbus Marketing Agency,” that would cost me between $13-$16 per click. I beg you not to click on my ads 🙂  The advertiser gets charged after someone clicks on the advertisement. The cost per click is predicted based on the competitiveness of your keywords. Marketing happens to be a competitive industry, hence the reason for a higher cost per click. 

Our agency works with personal injury attorneys and car insurance companies that pay north of $50 per click! I own an eCommerce skincare company and our average cost per click is below $3. The cost per click varies. You can use Google’s keyword research tool to see how much it would cost to bid on your keywords. For paid advertising, you have to pay to play. 

A personal injury lawyer could win a multi-million dollar case based on someone clicking on a Google advertisement. For our skincare company, a large order would be around $300-$400. You can see why a personal injury lawyer could be willing to pay $70 per click.

Related Article: Importance of setting-up goals to track your PPC performance

According to WordStream, 94% of people skip over search ads. There’s two sides to every story. Ask Medigi conducted a survey and 63% of individuals said they’d click on a Google ad. According to Clutch, 75% of people said ads make it easier to find information.

Google makes 81% of its revenue from paid advertisements. I can tell you firsthand that people click on the paid ads and they can convert, if executed properly. If paid ads weren’t working, Google wouldn’t have made $43 billion off paid ads in Q4 of 2021. 

Understanding SEO

SEO is a beautiful marketing tactic. Search engine optimization is how I was able to grow my business. When I started The Media Captain, I worked out of a crappy apartment and it was just me and my sister. We didn’t have money to advertise so we invested in our own SEO. We wanted to rank for keywords in our local local market for web design and marketing. It was also our goal to rank for popular queries people were typing into Google throughout the country about marketing by developing a blog strategy. We were able to generate leads and sales all through SEO and we’ve been able to grow our business because of this. There’s nothing holding your business back from succeeding in SEO. 

Related Podcast: How I Learned and Got Started with SEO

The issue I see too often is that many business owners and marketers are impatient when it comes to SEO. It takes time to develop a strategy, deploy the tactics and reap the benefits, especially if your website has a lower authority than competitors. People that lack patience don’t often succeed in SEO.

It’s also really hard to master SEO. I’ve seen so many people spend years writing content and building backlinks but they do it in the wrong manner. You can spend a lot of time doing busy work pertaining to SEO but if you don’t have the right strategy, it can be a major setback.

Recommended Resource: Getting Started with SEO

Once you develop the right SEO strategy and you start to outrank your competitors, you will get more contact form submissions, phone calls, leads and sales. The best part is that you are not paying for each click, leading to a more profitable cost per acquisition. 

Investing in Paid or Organic? 

For our clients, I always recommend a diversified strategy when determining whether to invest in paid or organic.

Paid ads will drive instant results. There’s amazing data you can discover when running paid ads. You can start with a small budget of $200-$300 per month and prove your success before scaling.

SEO provides you with the most profitable return on investment IF you are able to rank on the first page of Google. You have to be patient when it comes to SEO as the results aren’t always instant. 

With your stock portfolio, it makes sense to diversify amongst different companies and sectors. . The same holds true for investing in PPC and SEO. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Diversify and you’ll see traffic coming to your website from multiple traffic sources. 

Jason Parks

Jason Parks started The Media Captain in 2010. He’s grown TMC into one of the largest digital agency’s in Ohio over the past decade.The Media Captain has worked with hundreds of small, medium and enterprise clients on digital marketing and development projects.The Columbus Based Digital Marketing Agency has received numerous accolades. TMC was named a Top 1% Agency in the U.S. by UpCity in 2019 and 2020. They also won the “Best PPC Campaign,” which was a national award from DashThis. They were also the recipient of the Top 10 Social Media Marketing Agencies in Ohio.

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