Organic SEO vs. Paid SEO

Author: Jana Devan
March 25, 2021 • 6 minute read

Organic SEO vs. Paid SEO: Unpacking the differences

The concepts and ideas that we traditionally associate with marketing (think MadMen) have mostly gone out the window. It takes a whole lot more than a quirky jingle and a smiling face in a commercial to get the attention that your brand needs in a digital world.

That transition has opened Pandora’s box of new marketing strategies and, in turn, a whole lot of new concepts to unpack and understand as a business owner. (You can get entire degrees in digital marketing these days.) Generally speaking, the goal within this sphere is to get your business’s online footprint in front of as many eyes—specifically, those that will benefit from seeing it—as possible. 

One of the many ideas you need to consider as you maneuver this online space with your business in tow is SEO or search engine optimization. This article aims to refresh your SEO knowledge and help you decide how to get started on your search optimization path.

What is SEO? 

Let’s break it down to the basics: search engine optimization is the process of getting more eyes (and traffic and conversions) on your website. When you type something into a search engine, SEO is the power that puts those top results where they are. It is an incredibly powerful tool to support your business goals and is vital for you to consider as a part of your marketing strategy.

Nowadays, being high in search engine rankings is essential not only because it drives traffic but also because it establishes your website and business status. When people see businesses at the top of a search engine, they’re more likely to trust and support that business. 

So now that we know how important SEO is, let’s dig in a little deeper. 

What are the Types of SEO?

There are two categories of SEO: organic and paid. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, so we’ll look at each one and give you some pros and cons to help you decide which is best for you.

Organic SEO

Organic SEO is all about strategically creating content that will drive traffic to your site. At Zettist, we do this through an SEO-focused content strategy that puts your customer’s needs and your unique voice first. The basic idea, though, is that you follow the golden rules of SEO to get your page up those search engine rankings: 

1) Use keywords—words and phrases that make it possible for search engines to identify what you do and show your stuff to the people looking for it—in your content. 

2) Have a compelling website. Google’s algorithm takes the amount of time people spend on your site into account, so stuffing it with keywords alone won’t get you anywhere anymore. Focus on thoughtful, compelling, and useful content that is helpful to your end-user. 

3) Build your social media network and use it to drive traffic to your site. 

Organic SEO Pros

  • It’s low-cost. The price of organic SEO is mostly in the time you put into it. 
  • Huge ROI. Because it doesn’t cost any money to cultivate organic SEO (time aside), the return on investment is almost always positive. 
  • It puts the right people in front of your website. Using organic drivers, those who see your content are probably already invested in the type of business that correlates with it.
  • Long-lasting results. Organic SEO is considered evergreen. When you cultivate content that drives traffic to your site and maintain it, your ranking on search engines will hold over time. 
  • It’s considered more legitimate and trustworthy. Like we mentioned earlier, when people see your business high on search engine rankings, they understand that it takes a lot of traffic to a high-quality company to get there. 
  • Higher click-through rates. Because people trust your brand when they see it at the top of the search engine, you’re going to get more clicks.
  • It is an opportunity to utilize your brand voice to help your audience understand what you do, how you do it, and why.

Organic SEO Cons

  • It takes a lot of time and research to develop. The organic SEO game is a long-term investment of your time, and as your business grows and evolves, so must your online footprint. 

Paid SEO

When utilizing paid SEO (sometimes referred to as PPC or pay-per-click), you’re effectively paying a search engine for ad space. For example, when you search “best car dealership near me,” into a search engine, the first few results are going to be paid ads, often denoted by the bold little “Ad” note before the text starts. 

Paid SEO can be compared to the light from a firework: it burns hard and bright before fizzling out until you light a new one. It can be a good option because it’s convenient and takes less time to establish than organic SEO, but it can require a lot of money. 

Paid SEO Pros 

  • It’s fast. Once that ad is created and running, it’s immediately going to be seen.
  • Paid SEO is more hands-off. All it takes to initiate paid SEO is the content for one ad rather than a fully developed online footprint to drive traffic. 
  • It has the potential to bring a lot of people to your site with the right targeting.

Paid SEO Cons

  • It’s expensive, and the ad only runs for as long as you pay for it too. 
  • Targeting can be a curse. Many people automatically assume that if we dump money into an ad, people will click on it. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily the case. Targeting can be an amazing tool, but if the ad’s parameters are incorrect or its content isn’t right for its target audience, you may lose money on the ad.
  • People are less trusting of it. Again, people are more likely to trust unpaid SEO because it’s assumed that they made it so high in the search engine based on merit alone. 

Which is Better for my Business? 

There can surely be a time where paid SEO can take your business to new heights, but it’s important to establish yourself as an authority in your industry first.

For example, if you search “Nike” on Google, you’ll notice that both the first paid ad as well as the first organic site are both straight from the company. That’s because it has enough brand recognition and a large enough budget to get all eyes that search their brand directly to their site. 

Whether you’ve run your business for decades or are just starting, we believe that any business can utilize an Organic SEO-forward approach to content marketing for everyone. All companies should have compelling content as a simple show of respect for their customers. Taking the time to build out your digital footprint in a meaningful way is vital regardless of what industry you’re in. If you need help establishing your content marketing strategy, we are here to help. Contact us today for a chat.

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