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Search engine optimization is not always an objective, clear-cut process; often it involves judgment calls.  One of these involves paid vs. organic search terms.  If you rank with an organic search word, why would you then bid on that same keyword?  Isn’t that just throwing money away?  Or, more accurately, paying for something you already have?

One of the reasons why sites shy away from using paid search when they already rank organically is that they will just pay for something they could have received free, which is often referred to as “cannibalisation.”  According to an informal experiment conducted by Search Engine Land, in which they compared the clicks for an organic and paid search term, they found the cannibilisation rate to be 1421 clicks.  This is substantial – but the paid search added almost 3000 more clicks that the site wouldn’t have received via organic search.

While you obviously pay for paid search, the profit margin can more than make up for the cost of the campaign.  Most websites and businesses will find that using both organic and paid search is the most effective in generating traffic – and in converting that traffic, which is the end goal.  This is where paid search offers a benefit, should you seize the opportunity.  When you rely on SEO, your pages have to contain elements like keyword optimisation and density, tags, metadata, and more.  By contrast, all you have to worry about with your paid search is to create a landing page that targets conversions.

If you have room in your budget, adding paid search makes sense.  It will offer a good ROI, and when used in conjunction with SEO techniques, it can help draw and convert valuable traffic.

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