What Is Paid SEO and Organic SEO?

February 21, 2024

What Is Paid SEO and Organic SEO? | AIA Book in a free 30 minute strategy session

One of the most common of all marketing strategies is the search engine optimisation strategy. Regardless of the business profile, industry, or even the types of products or services it has, increasing the website rank on the search engine result pages is an effort worth investing in.

But, SEO is widely regarded as an organic form of marketing, meaning a type of effort that brings results based on the actions you take, and not by paying for the results, like in the case of paid advertising.

So, what is paid SEO, or is it even a thing?

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SEO: a Brief Definition

Search engine optimisation (SEO) refers to the practice of increasing website traffic, as well as improving the quality of traffic through the usage of a variety of different methods. Through these methods, brands can improve the quality of their site and increase their rank in the search engine results pages.

Here’s a brief overview of how SEO achieves this:

  • Through SEO, the links to your site can rank higher on the SERPs;
  • Because of this, you have more chances of earning clicks from users, which increases website traffic;
  • Since Google ranks your page higher, potential customers are more likely to trust you even if they have little to no previous knowledge of your brand, products, or services. It’s because high-ranking links are seen as quality links since users know Google doesn’t feature just any websites in the top spots.

SEO is also considered, for the most part, an organic effort, since you are not paying for the traffic directly.

Below, let’s quickly go over some of the different elements that can go into an SEO strategy:

1. Website quality

Google puts a lot of focus on user experience, meaning how pleasant navigating the website is for the user. It takes into account many different elements, such as:

  • Site structure
  • Page load speed
  • User interface
  • Broken links
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Website responsiveness (its ability to adapt to different screen sizes, devices, and browsers)
  • Content relevancy, etc.

The more high-quality your website is, the better the user experience and, in turn, the more likely Google will award you with a higher rank. However, website quality isn’t the only ranking factor to consider.

2. Content marketing

There’s also the issue of what users find on your site, beyond its technical aspects. And that’s the content.

Content marketing is a way for brands to ensure their platforms provide users with enough high-quality content that keeps them engaged, informed, and encourages them to come back. Pages with lacklustre content often have really high bounce rates because users quickly learn they have to keep looking. And when that happens, your rank lowers.

Content marketing can obviously be applied to a lot of different marketing efforts, but you can also make it SEO-specific. For instance, organizing your content for featured snippets is a good way to boost your visibility. These are the previews Google gives users right in the SERP, which can often lead to a click on the site to read more.

3. Keyword research

Keywords don’t hold the same weight in SEO as they used to – but don’t remove them from your SEO strategy. Through keyword research, you can still identify the key topics and search terms your target audience is looking for.

You can use these terms and integrate them into your content marketing strategy, to ensure your website has the kind of content your audience wants, and get features in the organic search results. Keyword research is especially valuable for local businesses that need to tap into a local target audience through Google Search.

4. Link building

Lastly, you also have link building, the process of creating internal links and backlinks. Internal links are the ones hosted on your site that can lead to other pages of it or third parties, and you can build them while focusing on optimising navigation.

Backlinking is a bit more complex since it’s the process of earning links from other websites. Google views these links as votes that reflect the quality and relevancy of your site, so there’s a huge incentive to earn these links from high-authority sites. Doing it takes time, and it’s definitely a long-term effort, but you can achieve it through:

  • Social media marketing
  • PR campaigns
  • Local events
  • Media appearances
  • Guest blogging, etc.

Then, What’s Paid SEO?

Paid SEO is a common misnomer – the actual term of non-organic ways to appear in the SERPs is search engine marketing (SEM).

SEM is a form of paid advertising that focuses on creating ads that appear among the organic search results. In the context of Google SERPs, you achieve it through the search engine’s own pay-per-click (PPC) ad system: Google Ads.

Through Google Ads, brands can run extensive campaigns with the specific goal of increasing traffic to their website, and much more. The ads are triggered by certain search terms you want to target, and are included among the organic search results. Ads are clearly marked as such, so the user knows what’s organic and what’s paid.

Keyword research is present in SEM as well, and may even hold a lot more weight than in SEO. While you can target your ads based on audiences, you need to tell Google when you want the ads to be triggered – specifically, what are the keywords of a search query that you want your ads to go to? And you’ll only find this out through keyword research.

Google ads come with some compelling benefits:

  • Advanced targeting options, so you can ensure your ads are only shown to potential customers;
  • Many budget optimisation features that give you control over how much you spend;
  • Metrics are tracked and can be used to gain a lot of important insights into your campaign success, such as the click-through-rate to see how well your ads convince people to click on your links;
  • You can achieve different goals through the ads, not just boosting traffic. For example, if you are looking to increase the number of calls, Google has the option of creating ads featuring phone numbers that are only delivered to devices that can make calls. This can help you reach your goal much faster.

Paid ads are a good way to quickly have your link added to the SERP, and not wait for your SEO strategy to kick in. Being something designed for the long-term, it can take even 6 months for SEO to show any improvements, and some brands likely need results faster.

Organic Versus Paid: Which Is Better?

It can be tempting to turn to Google Ads as a way to speed things up, but if you’re doing it without an SEO strategy behind, then the results will not be very promising.

Organic SEO efforts take time, but they ultimately lead to a better website. Even if the rank won’t change overnight, the potential new target audience you bring through Google Ads will be greeted by an optimised user experience.

And what does this lead to? More conversions, time spent on the site, and even an increased likelihood of coming back. Which adds to your organic SEO efforts.

Organic and paid marketing efforts need to be calibrated to work together at helping you achieve your business goals. Running paid ads without SEO can lead money down the drain as your influx of users will not have a good user experience.

In turn, organic SEO takes time, and it can be difficult to know if you took the right approaches to actually make a difference. ‘Paying’ for traffic through a Google Search ad is a useful way to test the performance of your site and see how potential customers respond to it.

Australian Internet Advertising, A SEO Partner You Can Trust

We’re here to assist Sydney business owners with all their SEO needs, from creating a strategy calibrated to your specific goals to helping you and your marketing team implement these efforts and generate meaningful results.

AIAD would be happy to assist you on your SEO journey. Get in touch with us online to find out more, or call us at 1300 304 640.

Billy P.

About The Author

William Polson founded Australian Internet Advertising in 2013 and has over 12 years of experience immersed in Digital Marketing.

With an in-depth level of digital marketing knowledge, William has been sort after by and worked for, many large national brands including Subaru, Blooms The Chemist, and Nova 96.9.

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