Paid search or organic search: which is preferable for your business?

If you want to increase online visibility should a business focus on PPC advertising or search engine optimisation? That’s a question new clients often ask us. Both paid search and organic search have their advantages and drawbacks. PPC advertising is a quick-fix solution if you’re looking for instant results, but costs: organic search is more of a slow burner, cheaper and more sustainable in the longer term.

What about your business? Which of these online marketing strategies would work best for you? Well, that depends on the nature of your business and how much money or dedicated time and effort you’re willing to expend. However, before your business makes that decision, it’ important to understand what each strategy can offer and where its shortfalls lie.

Pay per click advertising is basically a flat fee paid to a search engine host for a paid ranking page. Each time the advert is clicked, advertisers pay the search website. PPC ads are listed on Google as ‘sponsored links’ and appear at the top of the results page. Most of the larger, well established search engines base their fees on a system called keyword bidding: the more popular the keyword, the more expensive it becomes.

On the positive side PPC advertising can be effective and the results can prove to be spectacularly quick and effective. Why is that? Well, research has shown that first page listings on Google receive 90 per cent of all search traffic. If you are prepared to pay for your advertising knowing that a first page listing is guaranteed, then the likelihood of a sale is vastly increased.

However, it’s not all plain sailing. There is another important issue to consider with paid search. Advertising can be expensive and important keywords can become highly prized. This can often lead to a keyword bidding war, with the highest bidder securing the prize. If you haven’t got the budget, you’re likely to lose out. What’s more, there is also anecdotal evidence of the existence of fraud, where rival advertisers have been known to click on a link without any intention to buy.  The bottom line is success cannot always be guaranteed with PPC, and there is little evidence to suggest paid search yields the best results in the longer term.

Organic search, on the other hand, can be a more effective strategy in terms of longer-term sustained online success. The problem, as mentioned earlier, is that it can be a bit of a slow burner. Organic search marketing uses a variety of techniques like link building, keyword optimisation, meta data optimisation and blogging. Unless you’re clued up in all of these techniques you’ll usually need the services of a reliable SEO company, and that costs too.

The advantages of organic search results are the price, which is usually based on a flat fee, and though it may take longer for your website’s profile to grow, there is compelling evidence that once the site has made its way up the rankings it is more likely to stay there as 80 per cent of users have indicated they trust organic search engine results more than PPC advertising.

So which marketing strategy is best for your business then? Well, maybe the answer to that is a combination of the two, budget permitting. What people often fail to understand is that both paid search and organic search are effectively two sides of the same coin. The purpose of both strategies is to improve the visibility of the business. So, given that fact, it’s arguable that the maximum marketing impact is best achieved by using a combination of both strategies, as long as you can afford it.

For more information on advertising your business online, contact a member of the Search and More team today on 0161 669 5544.

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