The difference between paid search and organic search

This is a common question and if you are confused about the differences you are not alone. Regularly I am asked to explain the differences along with, why as business owners, we need to use these tools.

More than 90% of internet usage begins with the use of a search engine. The most popular of these being Google.

Many of the business owners I speak with are saying things like ‘It never used to be so difficult for people to find me’.

The internet is a busy place…

At the time of writing there is close to 2 billion websites with around 400million of those being active worldwide. Then you need to think about how many pages these websites have and remember that Google indexes each page, not just each website the numbers are staggering.

Paid search (PPC) benefits

The simple focus of paid search or PPC is to pay for prominence in the paid positions that are offered.

  • You gain instant results
  • Attract people who are ready to buy
  • It works across a range of budgets
  • ROI is generally good
  • Helps to define keyword that can be used within SEO work

PPC drawbacks

  • PPC costs money daily and if your budget runs out so do your ads.
  • Paid search needs constant maintenance, usually weekly. This maintenance cost can add up when you are outsourcing and it can eat into your work time if you are trying to do everything yourself.
  • PPC is not a set and forget tool, if it is not receiving regular maintenance you may be spending more than you need to and not getting as many clicks as you could be.
  • The results are instant but short term – If you stop running your ads the results also stop.
  • Your business can become dependant on PPC
  • PPC requires time, knowledge and constant learning to achieve results. Most small to midsize companies tend to outsource their PPC.

Organic search (SEO) benefits

The simple focus of organic search or SEO is to focus on the unpaid search results and getting your website to rank better.

  • It is zero cost
  • ROI is generally great
  • It compounds over time
  • Supports other marketing efforts
  • Attracts your ideal clients

SEO drawbacks

  • If you are inclined to think that SEO is a set and forget item you will be disappointed by the results. It requires ongoing optimisation to maximise the return that you will get in the organic search results. Without this ongoing work, you will see your website fade as your competitors do more than you.
  • It takes a decent amount of time to see results and this can be 3 to 6 months or even more in highly competitive industries. No one can fast track these results we are all at the mercy of Google.
  • Local search and featured snippets are taking up space in the organic results making everyone need to work that much harder. Again, no one can fast track or guarantee your position in the results. 
  • SEO requires time, knowledge and constant learning to achieve results. Most small to midsize companies tend to outsource their SEO. 

Which one or both

As they both have unique benefits and drawbacks there is an argument for using both and for many companies this can be a smart choice. However, every business is different so what works for one may not work for the other.

Contact My Sassy Business to see what will work for your business.

The cost of paid search (PPC)

If you choose to outsource you will have set up costs and then maintenance costs ongoing. On top of these costs, you will have your ‘cost per click’ or daily budget to be paid directly to Google.

The cost of organic search (SEO)

If you choose to outsource $350 to $1000’s per month + GST.

One-off SEO work will only be beneficial if you are planning to look after your SEO yourself in-house. Otherwise, the results will be temporary due to this one-off effort.


If you are in business already or you are starting a business then organic search results and the paid ads of Google cannot be ignored, It is how your ideal clients will find you.

How much traffic is your website receiving on a monthly basis and where does it come from? Ensure your website is connected to Google Analytics so that you can monitor the traffic yourself.

If this traffic could be improved, contact Kelly @ My Sassy Business. 

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