Over the years, search engines such as Google, have shaped the world of the internet, our lifestyle, habits, and the way we do business. One simple phrase has become the solution to many of our problems, the phrase “Google it”. Whether you’re looking at how to change the oil of your car or looking at reviews for the next restaurant you wish to dine at, this phrase has become our daily mantra. For a while now, businesses have been taking advantage of this lucrative market with the help of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) practices.

There are many questions to ask when it comes to digital marketing, regardless of being a digital marketing specialist or a small business owner which is taking matters into his/her own hands. However, the one important question that you must know the answer to is, “What is the difference between organic and paid search results?” Luckily, I’m here to tell you all about it.

What is an Organic Search Result?

An organic search result is exactly what it sounds like. Imagine a herb garden where you’ve used natural fertilizer, natural sunlight, and have taken care of it on a regular basis. You tend to the garden using all your gardening skills and the natural resources to allow your herb garden to grow. In this process, you might not have spent a lot of money to grow this garden, but you used your skills and the natural elements to create a healthy and plentiful garden. Organic search results work the same way.

organic search results

Google and other search engines have specific algorithms for desktop and mobile. By staying on top of the most important ranking factors and implementing SEO best practices you can achieve a higher page rank and have your webpage show up on the first page of search engines. In order to achieve the best organic results using SEO, you must keep a few points as a guideline:

  • Choose the right keywords and make sure you rank high for them.
  • Position your keywords strategically through the URL names, headings, and webpage content.
  • Make sure all your alt-tags and meta descriptions are optimized and have the keywords used in them if possible.
  • Have high-quality backlinks linking back to your webpage, such as Wikipedia.
  • Create relevant social media accounts and make sure to manage them properly.
  • Optimize your website to be mobile friendly.
  • Always follow Google’s best practices (Whitehat) and stay away from bad practices (Blackhat).
  • Last but not least, stay up to date on Google’s algorithm changes and optimize your webpages accordingly.

Based on a study in 2011 involving more than 1.4 billion searches, it was found that 94% of users click on organic search results using Google and Bing, while only 6% click on paid search results. Organic results are better in the long-run and are worth investing time and effort in.

What is a paid Search Result?

Although organic search results sound like the way to go, paid advertisement has its own appeal, and might be more effective at times. A paid search result is basically an online advertisement initiative. A PPC (Pay-Per-Click) campaign is one of the most popular means of creating paid search results. With PPC you bid against other companies for keywords, then when your target market makes a search on Google using those keywords, your webpage will be at the top of the page or in the column to the right of the page.


The benefit of having a paid search result is that you can attract traffic to your website instantly with nearly no effort. However, the results are limited to your budget and it could be difficult to compete with the competition depending on your website and the service/product that is offered.

Even though it was mentioned earlier that only 6% of users clicked on paid search results, Word Stream has provided an infographic which explains the benefits of paid search results. The infographic provides the results of a study done in 2012 and was conducted on keywords with a more specific desire to purchase (Example: buy winter tires). The study showed that 64.6% of clicks were coming from paid search results, compared to the 35.4% that came from organic search results. Also, according to a survey that was done, 45.4% of people couldn’t identify the paid search results when the right-hand ad column was not displayed.

Which One is for Me?

The answer to this question is highly dependent on the type of business you have, your business objectives, your target market, and your marketing needs in general, however, for most businesses a combination of both is the best approach.

The organic search results will provide your website with necessary credibility and will provide you with long-term results that are easier to maintain. The paid search results will provide your website with immediate listings and impressions, and provide better click-through rates for keywords with a more specific desire to purchase.

Using these two methods together works best for most websites. The paid search results will buy you some time to build your organic search results while receiving immediate impressions.  Once you’ve optimized your website and have better organic search results, you can stop using the ads and continue receiving website traffic.

We understand that it can be overwhelming when it comes to deciding what digital marketing initiative to take so your business can grow. Luckily agencies like Rocket SEO exist to provide businesses of all sizes with digital marketing solutions. If you’re not sure where to start, contact us and we’ll be happy to help you optimize your website and increase your conversion rate. We’ll use your objectives as a guideline to find the best solution for you.