Organic search vs paid search in 2020

Paid Search: Is This Where We’re at in 2020? Yes.

The tides have definitely changed for 2020. If your business is seeking quick responses from online opportunities, paid search is the fast match for a short burst of immediate, lucrative activity. Let’s table this for a bit to discuss what most of us have been doing for years – good ‘ole SEO. Now mostly referred to as organic search traffic, this comes from people locating business links among search engine results. SEO optimization impacts organic search results.

Paid search traffic is ascribed from visitors selecting a link in an advertisement or sponsored listing that a business has paid for in order to appear at the top of search results. To the old schoolers of SEO, this may feel like cheating. But now, it’s 2020 and Google, in all its tech glory, represents two completely different, yet equally valuable traffic sources to inbound marketers: organic search (SEO) and paid search (SEM).

If you’d like to learn more about these individual methods, here are a few resources that you can read through.



Here’s a quick review of the key differences between organic search and paid search.

Organic search

Whenever a question is input into Google, or any other search engine, the list of links that are displayed below the ads are the “organic results.”

Organic traffic is widely measured as the most treasured traffic source for several reasons:

  • Google actually directs the highest amount of traffic here and they are the most trusted source for people researching a purchase.
  • Google is very, very selective regarding their rankings and if you’ve ranked in the top five results for a keyword, it indicates that your content is high quality.
  • Upping your spot in the rankings is difficult and takes time, but once you’re there you get to reap the benefits for a long time.
  • Results on the first page of Google (The Top 10) receive 92% off all search traffic on Google. Traffic drops by 95% on the second page.
  • 33% of clicks from organic search results go to the very first listing on Google.

The downside to organic search is that it takes time to get indexed and really start generating traffic from this source. (If you’re looking for instant gratification, look elsewhere!)

Paid search

Paid search accounts are those that businesses have paid to appear at the top of search results (above those that produced their page-one spots organically.)

Organic search vs paid search

Regardless of the little yellow box next to their title reading “ad,” many consumers are unaware that these are actually advertisements. The ads flow with the page and fit seamlessly into the results. Because of this, paid search has become more popular and organic search has become more viable.

Instead of waiting patiently for your SEO to build up, you can pay for the chance to get seen on page one of Google immediately.

Conclusion: Organic search vs paid search

Traditionally, inbound marketers have avoided paid search as it was viewed as more of an outbound method for marketing, but it’s becoming far more common for the two to work together.

Realistically, it takes three to six months to begin seeing movement in search rankings with SEO and most people just don’t want to wait that long. Paid search aids businesses in getting visitors to their website today and also speeds up the process of optimizing landing pages for higher conversions, which pays off exponentially in the long run.

Fair Marketing