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Organic vs Paid Search Results

Organic vs Paid Search Results

Is it better to get organic or paid results? The answer would seem fairly simple on the face of things.


You may well ask why you should pay for results if you can get them organically? The practitioners of good SEO will agree with this question to a certain extent. Organic results or the results ranked by search engines because they have been well optimized and have gained natural popularity are much more reliable. They show that you are trustworthy, that you have been around for a while (age of your website domain is one of the ways search engines decide your authority), and that you are relevant to the user’s search.

Most users, in fact, will trust organic results only.

But organic takes time, and you may well ask yourself: “How can I wait until I get enough traffic to boost my organic results?” Bidding for AdWords and getting top billing on SERPs can be costly, but your website will be the first thing the searcher sees. And who can argue with top billing? Besides, optimizing your site is complicated and takes time and effort. Isn’t it better just to pay?

The real answer, however, is that this is the wrong question. The best results, according to SEO experts everywhere, is a combination of the two. The right question would be how do I balance paid and organic?

Again, this comes back to a question of psychology. When you run a quick search like, “learning French”, the top results will invariably be paid advertisements. Psychologically, we are not prepared to respond to an ad when we have asked for information. So we scroll down to the organic results. According to some studies, in cases like these, often the fourth and fifth position get more click-through than the top ones. Why? It is simply because of how we think about things.

When you see the top result, you may think that it is popular and therefore might be more expensive or might be too vague. With that in mind, you scroll down a little more to the next few positions. This is a best-fit kind of search, somewhere in the middle.

But paid advertisement can help these middle ranked results as well. It has been shown that if you are at the top of the page organically, an advertisement will then serve to reinforce your message and ensure more trust. The conclusion being: they are good, trustworthy, and they invest in themselves too.

As we will see in later chapters, getting this balance right is important. The key thing, however, is not to look at paid vs. organic as a binary question – either one or the other.

Because both works better.

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