Beyond word-of-mouth and social media marketing, many online entrepreneurs looking to scale their businesses wonder how they can better leverage highly competitive search engine results. The answer is SEO, which stands for search engine optimization.

However, there are two distinct forms of SEO, both of which can provide considerable advantages based on a company’s assets and goals. So today we’ll discuss the difference between paid SEO and organic SEO, and explore which will more effectively drive traffic to your eCommerce website.    

What is Paid SEO?

Paid SEO refers to the process of paying for higher placement on SERPs (search engine results pages). Sometimes, it’s called pay-per-click advertising, or PPC. Paid listings generally appear as the first three or four links on a results page and can be identified by a small “Ad” designation next to the site title or link.

Generally, the highest keyword bidder receives the first spot on a SERP, but search engines like Google also take other factors into account. The quality score of an eCommerce site’s landing page, site relevance to search terms, and other competitors’ bids also influence the final ranking.

What is Organic SEO?

On the other hand, organic SEO is completely free. Organic search engine optimization is most frequently what people are referring to when they talk about SEO. It involves optimizing your website so that search engines rank it higher on SERPs. To put it simply, good SEO means you make Google happy by creating content that makes other internet users happy, too.  

Factors like readability, quality score, site speed, keyword use, content optimization, and much more influence the overall SEO ranking of a site. Plus, SEO can be broken down into further subcategories: on-page and off-page optimization. Where the former relates to the content you add to your site (meta descriptions, alt text, keyword-rich URLs, etc.), the latter refers to backlinks from other sites. In other words, when enough highly-credible websites point to your online store as trustworthy, Google recognizes its quality and increases its rank on SERPs.  

When to Optimize and When to Pay Per Click on Search Engine Results Pages

Right up front, cost comes into play. As the most obvious difference between paid and organic SEO, it’s important to realize that organic SEO is cheaper than paid. As a bonus, it can even be free, as long as you take the time to learn, study, and implement the proper changes.

Plus, as you increase the quality of SEO on your site, more traffic will naturally come. That in itself boosts your SEO and the cycle continues—and your business scales in size. This is called brand authority, and it's not something you can buy. Organic SEO takes concentrated effort, but it's worth it in the long run.

However, just as technology constantly changes, so does SEO. You need to consistently reoptimize your site to implement the best keyword practices and stay relevant. With paid SEO, though marketing methods may vary, there are not as many changes—you pay, and Google makes sure that people click.

Additionally, paying per click provides quick, targeted growth, and often, those listings appear before organic search engine results. This ranking placement can be crucial when it comes to gaining valuable new eyes on your store. However, PPC ads can be very expensive, especially on highly competitive keywords, so by utilizing only paid SEO, you may see a decrease in profit margins.    

Paid + Organic SEO = A Winning Combination

Many eCommerce owners realize that the most balanced and most profitable SEO strategy for the long-term is a careful combination between paid and organic SEO. By leveraging the quick, targeted reach of PPC and the stable, strengthening power of organic SEO, you truly can scale your online stores and reach true eCommerce success.

Need more help with eCommerce? We’re here to help. Reach out to chat today!