When it comes to driving traffic to your website, you have two options for reaching new audiences: organic search, or paid search. Paid search involves purchasing ads around keywords related to your business. These ads are typically found on popular websites in the form of Google AdWords. This is often referred to as PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, because it costs money every time someone clicks on an ad.
Organic search, on the other hand, is free. The popularity of your business's website is determined by the number of people that come to it via organic search results (sometimes referred to as "natural" or "earned" traffic).
So how do you know which of these two paths to take?
Let's start with paid search. When you purchase a PPC ad, it'll show up in the form of a banner on the popular website that hosts it. You might pay for your ad to appear at the top of a list, or you might pay for your ad to appear only when someone searches for a certain keyword. The exact payment model can vary based on the website, but you'll typically only pay when someone clicks on your ad.
The paid search model is effective because it directly targets people who are already looking for something related to what you have to offer. It's not entirely perfect, though - if you're targeting keywords that aren't that relevant to your business, then you might just be wasting money and attracting the wrong audience.
Organic search is a little more complicated. While it could absolutely drive traffic to your website and potentially lead to conversions, there isn't much you can do to control what happens when someone clicks on an organic search result. Google's algorithm is constantly changing, but it typically favors websites with good content and user experience to emerge at the top of organic search results. The best solution for this is to focus on creating content that provides value and resonates with your audience.
In terms of investing in one or the other, often marketers utilise a mix of paid and organic search to maximise the benefits each offers. PPC is a great way to quickly bring in new customers and convert them into sales, while organic search is an excellent long-term method for producing content and building your audience.
What works best for you will depend on the size of your business, as well as what industry you're trying to target. If you want help figuring out how paid and organic search can work for your business, contact us today!