Google Search: Paid Vs. Organic

Often when we meet potential clients who are interested in SEO, they are currently using or have in the past used Google AdWords to get their business’ website to sit in the Paid section of Google listings. By using Google AdWords, users can see their site rank on the first page (in the Paid section on the top or in the side column) for any number of keywords depending on their budget.

So why would businesses use SEO to rank highly in the organic (unpaid) rankings when they can ensure themselves a place on the first page by investing in Google AdWords? Well according to research by, search engine users overwhelmingly click on organic results on Google by a margin of 85% to 15%. To break it down further, more than half of that 85% click on the first link.

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When investing in Google AdWords, advertisers bid on keywords and compete against one another to determine where in the paid rankings they will rank. 24% of ads appear at the top while the majority (61%) appear in the right column. However, the right column ads only receive 13% of clicks, so you can do the math to work out how many people click on the majority of paid ads.

OK, we’ll do the math. If 1000 people searched for a keyword in a month, about 150 will click on the paid ads and 43 will click on your ad. So we estimate that 4.3% of all users searching for keywords you have bid on will click through to your site. Compare that to the number of people who click on the first organic link (equivalent to 530) and we can see where the best chance of conversion to sales lies.

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While it might be tough ranking first for keywords with a high number of monthly searches, it’s not unrealistic to be somewhere in the top three for a number of popular search terms with the right SEO strategy. Another thing to add is that by no means is this article meant to deter you from using Google AdWords- oftentimes we will implement a strategy which also employs AdWords so that the client’s site will be in the paid and organic rankings to give them the highest potential return on investment.

If you are interesting in using SEO as a way of driving traffic to your website, please contact or fill in the contact form and we can arrange a consultation.

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