SEM Playbook Part 1: SEO vs Paid Search - What’s the Difference?

SEO and Paid Search share an objective: driving traffic to your site via search results for relevant searches. Read about the different approaches in this blog post.

SEM Playbook Part 1: SEO vs Paid Search - What’s the Difference?

Both Organic Search (SEO) and Paid Search share the same objective: getting search engine traffic to your site via search results for relevant queries / search terms. But they each achieve this in slightly different ways.

SEO:

Search Engine Optimization can help your content rank higher for longer. Organic content found via search engines is more likely to be clicked on and trusted by audiences, it’s more effective for local searches, and it has the potential to grow your online presence in the longer term.

Paid Search / PPC:

Paid Search requires you to spend ad money to get your content in front of an audience. While it’s a great way to direct users to specific content, once you stop paying, your ads stop showing.

Generally speaking, Paid Search ads will appear above Organic Search (SEO) results on the Google Search Engine Results Page, as you’ll see in the image below.

seo vs ppc / paid search

SEO in a Nutshell

Where you rank on a search results page matters. If the user finds what they’re looking for within the top three results returned to them and you rank below this, it’s much less likely that you’ll gain any business from that search.

SEO can help to improve your rank among search results and thus, improve your visibility online. This means that by investing in SEO, you'll increase the likelihood of your target audience finding you when they search for something related to your product or service.

By improving the content on your site, optimizing for keywords on which to rank, publishing your NAP (name, address, and phone number), building inbound links, and more, you can help to convince Google that your site is relevant and that it should push your link higher up on a keyword's search results page.

Paid Search in a Nutshell

Paid search advertising is an alternative way to ensure that your link shows on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) by paying Google every time your ad is clicked.

Advertisers bid on search keywords relevant to their target markets and if your paid listing is deemed to be relevant by Google, it will appear in one of the predetermined paid listing spaces on the SERP (usually the top 3 spaces in a competitive market).

If an organization does not have the authority (link profile) to get their website to rank well on search engines organically, PPC can help businesses stay competitive in a crowded market and quickly get in front of their target consumers.

Both SEO and Paid Search offer opportunities to help users to discover your website. Instead of thinking in terms of either or, we suggest that your budget will be more effective if you can make SEO and Paid Search to work together.

To learn more about how to make SEO and Paid Search work together read the SEM Playbook Part 2.

Adaptive & Co - Data Driven SEO Agency, Dublin