SERPs: The Difference Between Pay Per Click and Organic Results


A simple look at Google (or any other search engines), will reveal that the average search engine results page (SERP), has various distinct elements. With Google, these components include:

* Pay-per-click (PPC) or ‘sponsored’ results.

Usually, these are on the far right of the page, arranged vertically. For many search phrases, there will also be sponsored results at the top of the page, above the organic results.

* Products, Local and others

Below these paid for (PPC) results in the main area of the results, will be the different kinds of results. These will depend very much on the particular phrase you searched for. These results may include local business results, news headlines, social networking results (such as Twitter and Facebook), and videos from YouTube.

* Organic results

Below these results, is where all the natural search results can be found. In all three of the major search engines (Google, Yahoo and Bing), the organic results occupy the most amount of space. Interestingly, the less popular the keywords or search terms, the less sponsored links will appear, and the greater the space devoted to the organic results.

Popular keywords however, present a whole host of challenges. SERPs for these are often combined with a high volume of PPC and organic results. Getting your site noticed for such terms is harder to accomplish. It is far easier targeting keywords that are not searched for so often, but have a lot lower competition.

On the other end of the scale, are niche (and often technical) keywords. For many of these keywords, there are hardly any PPC ads whatsoever, and therefore all of the results that are shown on the SERP are natural. Optimizing your site and your landing pages for those keywords therefore, could result in the highest conversion rates, since the competition is lower. The majority of the larger corporations and brands on the internet will tend to optimize their websites for the broadest and most popular search terms imaginable, irrespective of the conversion rates they are getting out of it. With their almost unlimited budgets, they can often afford that type of shotgun approach to marketing.

That aside, most internet users have more trust in organic search results. Industry bodies and analysts have carried out numerous studies that all come to the same conclusion. Over 60% of internet users do click on natural search results most of the time. Power users, and more experienced internet users actually have a higher rate of clicking on the organic search results. The only industry where that is different, is the insurance industry, where most of their traffic comes from sponsored results.

Clearly, using only online advertising, means you will not be getting the most of your website advertising efforts. Alongside driving traffic, you can increase reputation for your site and brand through search engine optimization efforts to better your organic search results and ranking. Any up and coming site owner, especially one whose customers are the internet savvy generation, would therefore be advised to invest a fair bit of effort into SEO for their site.

SEO is really not rocket science. Everyone can do it. You can decide how far down the rabbit hole you are prepared to go with it, but you should not ignore it.


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