Organic Search vs Paid Search – the difference for small business

Are you choosing between organic search vs paid search to bring more traffic to your website? You’re in the right place.

Choosing the main traffic source and learning how to combine both of them will help you optimize your website visibility.

In this article, you’ll learn everything about the difference between organic search vs paid search, statistics, and costs for both organic search and paid search.

 All that together will tell you which one is the right fit for your business and website.

What is the difference between organic traffic and paid traffic?

The biggest difference between organic traffic and paid traffic is the price and the time you invest in it. 

Paid traffic is the one you paid for by investing in an advertisement. Organic traffic represents the visitors that came to your website from unpaid sources, like search engines Google, Yahoo, or Bing.

Google search engine

When it comes to organic search vs paid search, organic traffic requires a lot more time and effort than paid traffic. Still, organic traffic is way cheaper and more valuable than paid traffic.

Paid traffic

Ads, campaigns, and promotions drive paid traffic to your website. This is also known as Pay-per-click marketing or PPC. 

We’re surrounded by paid ads on Google, social media, websites, and apps. Advertisers will post ads on any virtual place they think the targeted audience will visit.

Besides money invested in an ad, advertisement rank depends on the quality of the ad, competition, and the context of the person’s search. 

This example stands for paid search ad, but there are other PPC ways to promote your product/service:

  • YouTube Ads
  • Display Ads
  • Remarketing Ads
  • Shopping Ads
  • Paid Social Ads (Instagram and Facebook PPC)
  • Gmail Ads

and so on. 

Paid advertisement is run by Google Ads, an advertising system Google has developed to help businesses find and reach their targeted audience. There are also Bing ads for Bing search engine, today known as Microsoft advertisement

Google Ads dashboard

If you’re looking for an instant solution to promote your product/service or want to boost your brand visibility and website traffic, pay-per-click marketing is the easiest solution.

Organic traffic

The results that show under the paid search ads are unpaid, organic sources that drive visitors to your website. That means that you don’t pay when someone clicks on your organic source. 

The organic results are generated based on Search Engine Optimization.

Google Search Console for Organic Traffic

You can understand how Google sees your website with Google Search Console. This tool can help you with optimizing your site’s visibility in Google Search results, check indexing status, search queries, external links, and even google penalties.

Google Search Console performance

Since only 0.44% of people will visit Google’s second-page results, it’s important to optimize your website to show on the first page of search engines. This is why Google Search Console is so important for SEO. 


Here are some key SEO features of Google Search Console that you can use (for free):

1. Sitemap check

Use the Google search console to manually submit your sitemap and all the sitemap folders

Google Search Console sitemap check

You don’t need to wait for Google to crawl and index your page, instead do it yourself!

2. check keyword ranking and clicks

From the performance report, you can analyze page performance and monitor the positions for crucial keywords:

Google Search Console keyword ranking and clicks

3. page (user) experience

The page experience report shows how users are experiencing your site. This is valuable information given that google has made it clear that user experience and content quality should be the main focus of SEO specialists.

Google always emphasizes the importance of mobile traffic and mobile clicks.

Google search console mobile traffic and clicks

4. core web vitals

Google Search Console uses Lighthouse reports to analyze the page’s technical performance. This report shows you the key parameters that are reflected in user experience, page speed, and backed issues – i.e. Core Web Vitals.

Google search console core web vitals

Ranking Factors for Organic traffic

Important factors that affect your website’s SEO performance are:

and many more. Around 600 variables are considered ranking factors.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is another Google tool that helps you track SEO performance, improve SEO metrics, and drive more traffic to your website.

There are several features that you can track on the Google Analytics dashboard:

  • Users
  • Sessions
  • Bounce Rate
  • Session Duration 
  • User behavior tracking in real-time
Google Analytics dashboard
Google Analytics user behaviour tracking in real-time

Although working on your SEO performance requires a lot of your time and energy, it’s a long-term solution for bringing new leads and potential customers. 

When it comes to brand visibility and a trustful relationship with your audience, inbound marketing is the perfect solution. 


What is the difference between Google Search Engine and Google Ads?

Google search engine GETS you organic traffic when your pages rank high in SERPs. Google Ads get you paid traffic from ad placement on top of Google Search Results.

They both help your website show on the first page of SERP, but in different ways. Regarding the organic search vs paid search dilemma, the best digital marketing strategy is to implement both for your website promotion.  

Is SEO paid or organic?

SEO and organic traffic

SEO is organic since it helps you rank your website in the organic search results. The organic results that show first on SERP are not first by accident. They’re first because they are optimized for search engines like Google or Bing and implement various SEO techniques.

There are three different types of SEO components:

  1. On-page SEO refers to practices that optimize on-page elements, like meta tags, meta titles, content, images, headers, and target keywords.
  2. Off-page SEO refers to practices of a website, like mentions on third-party sites, social shares, and generating product and brand reviews.
  3. Technical SEO refers to activities like improving website speed, robot.txt files, navigation, and site structure.

The cons with SEO as an organic traffic source are:

  • The competition is big, so it can be hard to be first on SERP even if you optimize your website for search engines properly.
  • It can take a while to see the first results and drive traffic to your website.
  • ROI can be hard to track.

Although SEO is an organic way to drive more traffic, it still requires some budget investment for SEO employees, SEO tools, link building, and content distribution. You can calculate your ROI in Google Analytics by tracking your conversion rates in Google Analytics.

Google Analytics conversions section

Is SEO better than paid Ads?

If you are ready to invest more money and want to have proper control of it, SEO is not better than paid Ads. But if you want to build trust with your audience and put yourself as an expert in your niche, SEO is better than paid Ads. 

Google algorithm updates change daily, and they are not completely known to anyone outside of the Google community. On the other side, paid advertisement is not affected by these changes.

Google Ads logo vs Google Analytics logo

If you are looking to save some money, but also look to show expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, SEO is better than paid Ads, since SEO is the best way to answer your audience’s needs in the way they like it. 

What’s better SEO or PPC?

The right answer is none and both. It depends on your budget, time, and effort you are ready to invest in your digital marketing strategy. Still, if you want to see some astonishing results, you need to combine both SEO and PPC.

In the table below, we break down some pros and cons of SEO and PPC, so you can decide between organic search vs paid search and which one should be your priority.

PPC and SEO pros and cons table

What is an example of Organic Search Traffic?

For example, if you are looking for “digital marketing courses” you’ll get two kinds of results, paid and organic results. 

The picture below shows organic results for digital marketing courses.

example of organic search traffic

In this example,  Google Digital Garage has the best Search Engine Result page. Their title and description on SERP (also known as meta title and meta description) have the best keyword strategy.

What is an example of Paid Advertisement Traffic?

When you search for “digital marketing courses” on search engines like Google, the first results that will show are paid text ads. They have a bolded mark “Ad” left from the web address.

example of paid search traffic

LinkedIn’s digital marketing course has the highest Ad Rank. Among other things, this means that LinkedIn bids the highest pay-per-click than any other digital marketing course platform.

It also means that their ad is the most appropriate for the search query keyword and context.  


The ideal Organic Search to Paid Search Traffic Ratio

According to the Search Engine Journal, organic traffic has a higher conversion rate of 14,6%, while paid traffic has a lower conversion rate of 1,7%. 

Since organic search traffic brings eight times higher conversions, it’s logical that it should represent a much higher part of your marketing strategy:

  • Organic search traffic brings eight times higher conversion rates
  • Organic search traffic from content marketing costs 62% less.

Having that in mind, the ideal organic search to paid search traffic ratio is 80/20

paid search traffic vs organic search traffic ratio

Still, if you are just starting your business and need to boost your brand recognition in the beginning, you should stick to a 50/50 ratio at the start. 

What is a good organic search traffic percentage for small business websites?

BrightEye research shows that 53,3% of traffic is from organic search, so everything around that number and more is a good percentage for your small business. 

Another number you should focus on is how much of the organic traffic turns into leads. The satisfactory percentage of organic traffic that should turn to leads is 16%.

If you are owning a small business and your numbers are lower than this, here are the things you should focus on improving:

  • Search engine rankings
  • Quality content
  • Relevant keywords 
  • Number of website landing pages
  • Link building

What is the ideal paid google Ads budget for a small business website?

The budget you should invest in Google Ads for your small business depends on the competition in your industry. Still, you shouldn’t invest less than $4,000 annually, since this budget will get you around 2000-4000 clicks. 

With that amount of clicks, you can test and track what works well for your small business. 

Paid search marketing is a valuable tool since the traffic you get from pay-per-click advertising are the targeted users ready to buy your product/service. Yet 75% of people say that paid ads help them find what they are looking for.

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About the author

Luna
Luna is a content writer currently specializing in the digital marketing niche. During her career, she also had experience with freelance social media management and copywriting in the fields of education, art, and tourism.
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