Search engine results can be broken into two different categories. There are organic results (which is mostly what you’ll see on the page when you do a search) and there are paid search results. Which one holds more value?

First, it’s important to identify the difference between the two. Paid results are essentially the first few results at the top of the page after doing a web search, because a company or person has bought that space from the search engine to promote their website or landing page.

Organic results are basically every other link on the search engine’s page. They are placed on the page by the search engine’s algorithm, a type of code programmed to find the most relevant pages for the keywords that are being searched for.

Both types of search results hold a significant amount of value in their own way, so it’s up to marketers to decide which direction they want to go.

Organic Search Results

These hold a lot of value for a number of reasons. Trust is at the forefront – websites or pages that rank well organically are the most popular because they’re useful or of good quality. By having your web page at the top of the organic section of results it shows that you have credibility in the industry that is being searched for and can be trusted.

The click through rates for organic results also tend to be higher. When people are browsing on search engines they usually want to do their own research on a topic or an item before they decide if they want to purchase. Organic results are generally not trying to sell to these users right away. They want to open up the door to gain trust so that hopefully the user will make the decision to buy from them later on.

The last reason why organic results hold a lot of value is that once you rank high on a search engine it is fairly easy to keep that ranking, unless a competitor comes along with a much better offer that goes viral.

One of the downsides to organic search results is the amount of time it takes to get a high ranking. On average it takes between three to six months of constant work to prove to the search engine that you are credible in the area you want to be searched for.

Paid Search Results 

The biggest value here is the exact same downside of organic search results: time. With paid search results you are actually buying the space at the top of the search engine page, so it appears there the second you buy the space.

Like organic results the click through rates on paid search results can be high, but they are high for different reasons. If the consumer is directly looking to purchase a product or content, they are more likely going to use the ads at the top of the search engine page, because they already know what they are looking for.

Another great aspect to paid ads is being able to reach specific audiences. When you go through and set up a campaign for the ad, you’re given different options to really target the demographic you want to reach. You can target specific age groups, income levels, and even your demographics’ marital status. This gives you complete control over who your ads are going to, and will tend to give you a higher click through and purchase rate.

The biggest downside of paid search results is obviously cost. The competitiveness of the keywords you’re placing ads for will determine how much it’s going to cost to run the ad. If you have a keyword that is searched for a lot, there’s a good chance that you’re are going to have spend a relatively large amount of money.

All in all, both paid and organic search results have value in their own unique ways and it really depends on your end goal to know which is best for you. Successful marketers use both, and over time you’ll find the right balance as you monitor your results.