Paid vs Free Search

As you probably know, Google search results come up in two sections: paid search and organic search. Paid search show up at the top and bottom of results page. Organic search show up free of charge, sandwiched between paid search results.

Google Search

Of course, organic search is good since it’s free and most trusted. After all, Google sorts its results based on how relevant it is. If you don’t make it on top organically, then paying Google to put you in front is a good alternative. Since people use Google to look for answers, being up on top makes it more likely for your business to be chosen, increasing your reach and sales.

For the sake of our comparison, we’ll focus on Google since 70% of the Canadian population uses Google as their go to search engine.

Organic Search

Organic Search Rank
Organic search displays results that Google finds relevant to your search, and websites don’t have to pay for Google for this. Google gives each result a rank, and then displays the ones Google thinks is most relevant to you.

The goal in search engine optimization (SEO) is to get your website to the top of relevant organic search results. This is so important because the first organic search result get 33% of all search traffic! In total, the results on the first page get 92% of search traffic. If you’re on the second page, you only get 4.8% of search traffic.

Google looks at your site to see how useful the content is and how others like you have interacted with your site. Then, it determines your site’s quality. Higher quality sites get a higher rank.

If your site isn’t on the first page, you’ll get a lot less traffic. This results in less visitors on your site, which makes it harder for Google to judge how others interact on your site. As you can see, it takes a long time to get ranked on top organically.

Paid Search

Paid Search Rank
Paid search displays results higher in Google search for a fee. Instead of waiting to be ranked higher organically, Google AdWords can get you on the first page of search results a lot quicker. When you hear “ad”, you might be skeptical and don’t know how people respond to paid results.

Based on Google’s financial statements, people are relying more on paid results in recent years:

  • In 2016, paid clicks increased by 34% compared to 2015
  • In 2017, paid clicks increased by 46% compared to 2016

84% of Google’s revenue comes from Google AdWords, so improving paid search is their priority! Google is constantly improving the look and feel of paid search results, which provides a better user search experience.

Since Google wants people to trust paid search results, you can’t simply pay to list on top. Paid search also orders results by rank. Similar to organic search, ad ranking is based on the quality of your site on top of how much you’re willing to pay for an ad. In terms of interaction, Google looks at how visitors are reacting to your ad and the actions they take after going to your site.

When you create an eye-catching ad with relevant website content, you can generate leads and sales much quicker than organic search.

Paid search and organic search should work hand-in-hand.

Both paid search and organic search results can generate leads.

Historically, people prefer organic results because they trust that Google will display free results that are most relevant to them. Unfortunately, it takes a long time for Google to index a new site so people can find you. This makes organic search not useful for those starting out. You’ll also need to continually manage your site so that it stays relevant and useful once you make it on top.

With the growth of Google AdWords, paid results are gaining trust and more people are relying on them.  Paid search can connect you with leads much quicker for a fee. Paid search ranking and ad pricing is based the your ad and what people do on your site after clicking your ad. By making a quality and relevant ad, you can cost-effectively make more sales within a shorter period of time.