This is one of the most commonly asked questions marketers often get. The short answer is, it is a little more complicated than just giving the stark definitions of the two.
The majority of people worldwide use Google as their traffic source (around 73%). There are two ways to search on Google, which are known as search engine optimization (SEO or Organic Search) and search engine marking (SEM or Paid Search). For more in-depth information about these two, you can visit the following:
SEO: The Beginner’s Guide to SEO
SEM: A Beginner’s Guide to Paid Search
Now that you’ve gotten an in-depth understanding of the two, let’s look at the differences at a high level.
SEO (Organic Search)
Whenever a query is typed into Google (or any other search engine), there is a list of links that are served. These links will appear under the ads and are known as “organic search results.” There are a variety of reasons why these appear, but it can all be summed up to the quality of the content on your page.
Google’s algorithm has over 200 factors that it looks for when serving up search results. Organic traffic is an incredibly valuable traffic source because it is FREE. Not only is there no cost associated with organic search traffic, but having a webpage that ranks well (at least on the first page) is marketing gold. We know from many studies that results on the first page are typically the only pages people tend to look at searching on Google. Traffic drops by well over 95% on the second results page, making it extremely important your web pages are optimized for SEO.
Paid Search (SEM)
Paid search is just that. Companies pay to have their ads appear at the top of search results.
To the untrained eye, many people don’t notice the little green “ad box” on the left-hand side of the search result. This is done on purpose to make it seem like the search result fits seamlessly into the results. Paid search has gained popularity over the years because organic search takes some time to see the full effect, so if you’re wanting results now, this might be an option you want to take.
To get started with ads on Google, you can start a campaign in the Google Ads is the platform. If you are new to Google Ads and SEM, it can be quite daunting and overwhelming, but it can be done. Do research, and with time, you will come to understand the tool and see that it can add valuable traffic to your site.
Here at Moose May, we are dedicated to helping your business succeed. Our expert SEO and SEM strategists are here to help you every step of the way and will help guide you to find the best marketing strategy for your business.