Bow House Blog

What are the differences between organic search and paid search?

by Beth Ellin

Other than the obvious – the money – there aren’t all that many differences between organic search and paid search. They’re simply different approaches to attracting attention online.

When it comes to internet search engine marketing, it’s all about bringing high quality customers onto your website and convincing them to convert. Organic and paid search are simply two ways you can get your website content seen by your customer when they’re looking for answers in search engines.  

What is organic search?

Getting potential customers through to your website organically means that you won’t have spent any money getting them there. Your digital presence and search engine results worked in perfect harmony to bring those users onto your site. 

People who come to your site organically are usually the most valuable because they’ve specifically sought you out with their terms. They’re already interested in what you’re selling or they wouldn’t be researching their options. That’s half the buying battle already won!

Because you don’t have to use your advertising spend to attract these high quality leads, generating organic traffic is often high priority for businesses. It does take a lot of work though, so don’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s free marketing. 


You’ll need to put the hours in to solid research and content creation – or pay someone to do it for you – to make sure you’re always competing for organic traffic. You’ll need to make sure your website is fully optimised to rank well in search engines, and that you’ve always got shiny new content to keep customers engaged. 

Your content is your best ally when you’re trying to attract organic traffic. You’ll need to make sure it’s targeted with your key words (which you can find using tools like Google AdWords Keyword Planner) and considers topics your customers are actually interested in. 

Keyword tools are brilliant – they let you know exactly what your target audience are typing into search engines. You can use your customer’s own searches to shape your content and reach out to them with things you know they’re interested in. You’ll want to aim for words with low competition and no ad spend to use in your content to rank organically. 

You don’t want to get stuck just writing blog post after blog post either, infographics, podcasts and videos are all great for engaging with your customers. There’s some debate over the impact over the impact things like social media have on your organic rankings, but it undeniably helps if you’ve got content that’s shared and commented on a lot. The more popular your content is, the higher it’ll sit in organic rankings. 

As long as you work at it, your organic traffic will always be there. It won’t dry up as your ad spend does and you’ll be getting users through to your website who are genuinely interested in what you’re offering. You’ll see a higher click through rate and more engagement with your site as a result. 

Want to talk about your organic search potential? Get in touch.

Paying for your traffic 

Paying for your traffic using what’s called Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing is much the same as traditional advertising. You put money in and leads come out – provided you’ve targeted your advert in the right way, of course! 

With PPC, you’re still using those keywords, but you’re not waiting for your work to bring your listings organically up the search results page. By putting money behind the key terms you’d like to rank for, you’re guaranteeing a space at the top of the search page when a relevant term is typed in by users. 


You’ll even sit above the organic results in a search listing, although you’ll display a little ad logo so your users know you’ve paid to be there. With Google’s featured snippets occupying position 0, your ads might not be the very first thing your user sees, but if the page is snip-less, you will be. 

Using tools like Google AdWords, you can set your adverts running by allocating how much money you’re prepared to pay to get that all important click through to your website. How much that will be will depend entirely on the other competition you’re up against. Some key words only require a few pence for a first page results listing, whereas others need a great deal more. 

Luckily, you’ll only pay if a potential customer actually clicks on your advert. This really works in your favour, as it means search engines will only list it if the term a user has search for matches your content. They want you to spend your allocated advertising budget with them, so will work hard to send people to your site. You just need to make sure your key words and your content are a perfect team so make sure customers will stick around once they’ve found you. 

You’ve got lots of control over this type of advertising and can make changes in real time if you spot something isn’t quite working. You’ll be able to amend your spend and target different key terms quickly and easily in your ad manager system. This isn’t so easy to do with organic search terms, as they tend to take a little while to be indexed and to start seeing results. 

To sum up  

This has been a whistle-stop overview to the differences between organic search and paid search. They’re both excellent ways of bringing high quality users through to your website and can make a massive difference to the amount of conversions you receive every month. 

If you’d like to find out more about your organic and paid search options, we’d be happy to have a chat. We’ve got lots of experience running successful organic and paid campaigns and can help you increase your traffic. Simply get in touch to find out how we can help you. 

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