Organic vs paid search marketing – which is better?

For digital marketers, the dichotomy between paid and organic search traffic is a source of fierce debate. Supporters of paid digital marketing methods tout its advantages over organic practises like SEO and vice versa.

Both organic and paid means of digital marketing have proven successful in the past and the best approaches use both of them in concert. However, people still want to know which of them is superior in achieving their digital marketing goals.

Let’s take a look at organic vs paid traffic and see which is better overall.

Paid for traffic

Paid digital marketing methods like pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements require the marketer to pay a certain amount of money so that an ad is served directly to the target audience. Using advanced demographic insights, these campaigns can be highly targeted so that they reach the best possible audience 100% of the time.

Despite the highly targeted nature of paid advertisements, they are disclaimed as such by search engines and websites that host them. This means that the audience can directly see that the ad has been paid for and targeted to them.

This can be a disadvantage as some audiences will be turned off obvious advertisements and instead look for the most authoritative organic search result.

Organic traffic

Organic growth digital marketing strategies like search engine optimisation (SEO), while not strictly considered paid-for, still have a cost in terms of man hours spent on it. Therefore organic means of generating traffic should not be confused as being free, as tactics like SEO cost money to do effectively.

However, the advantage of organic growth tactics like SEO is that they work to boost the visibility of a website in search engines naturally. This means that effective SEO will make it so that a website appears in the top, organic, results for a certain set of keywords.

This is more authoritative that paid-for ads as people will automatically trust an organic listing over a paid one. The reasons for this are fairly obvious, people trust search engines to rank sites organically based on their true popularity and authoritativeness, rather than whoever can spend the most money on marketing.

Which is better?

Ultimately, neither organic nor paid search marketing is definitively superior to the other. The suitability of either will really depend on the type of business you have.

For example, people shopping for clothes are less concerned with authoritativeness than someone looking for a lawyer, so paid-for ads would be equally as effective as organic listings. On the other hand, people looking for a lawyer will want to see what the most genuine search result is because of the nature of the service they are looking for.