What Is the Difference Between Organic and Paid Listings?

For Lawyers, Doctors, and Dentists

When it comes to Google search results and getting your business listed prominently on the first page, there are two essential strategies to consider. First, there is SEO (search engine optimization), something that almost every business owner has heard of but may not entirely understand. The second option is pay-per-click (PPC), which is paid advertising to show on the first page; many small businesses are reluctant to use PPC because of a small budget.

In this blog post, I'll dive into both options and some situations that might merit choosing one over the other.

Organic Listings a la SEO

Search engine optimization has been growing in use from large corporations to entrepreneurs starting their first business. It used to be that having a bunch of keywords stuffed into your website and buying high-authority links was enough to rank well on Google. If you have that same strategy today, it's likely you've received a horrible penalty from Google and your website has been banished to beyond the tenth page of results, which might as well be a black hole.

In today's SEO world, it's all about getting organic backlinks and making sure your site is foundationally strong and meets Google's best practices. The good thing is that Google provides a plethora of SEO resources to educate and help business owners. There's also an entire industry around SEO that does continual testing and reporting on what Google considers valuable in its search algorithm.

The biggest "problem" with SEO for many businesses is that it's a long-term strategy and it could take 6 months and up to a year to start seeing ROI on your website’s search optimization.

While implementing SEO strategies yourself does not cost money, it definitely costs time – and, as we all know, time is money. There's also the option of hiring a marketing company like Page 1 Solutions that is well-versed in Google's best practices and can be more efficient in implementing SEO basics as well as the more advanced strategies for getting your website listed higher on the search results page. If your marketing budget is small and you need ROI sooner than later, though, PPC may be a better option.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising

AdWords is the paid side of Google where you can pay to have your ad showing at the top of Google's search results page for the keywords you are targeting. Using this strategy is going to cost you more upfront, but the ROI is almost immediate.

A lot of the cost associated with PPC is based on the competitiveness of the keywords you are targeting. Spending some time with the keyword planner tool in AdWords can help you find some niche keywords that can be just as effective as high-cost terms but at a lower cost-per-click.

With AdWords, you pay each time a user clicks the ad to your website. So if the keyword you were targeting with an ad is $10/click and you get 10 clicks, that's a cost of $100. But the person who clicked the ad is a qualified lead who is interested in your services.

Therefore, you need to make sure that the page you're sending the PPC traffic to is optimized for conversions. At the very least, the page should be relevant to what the ad was talking about and have a form on it for Web visitors to fill and reach out to you.

Many business owners and marketers may present the argument that it's not worth doing PPC because people know which listings are ads and which are organic listings – they make the assumption that search users will ignore the paid ads at the top of the page and go straight for the organic listings. This is just not the case: A recent study found that over 50% of search traffic does not recognize the difference between paid ads and organic listings.

So, the argument that searchers ignore paid ad listings is just not true.   

So Which Strategy Should You Choose?

The truth is, the best tool for search prominence depends on the current state of your business. If you are well established locally through word of mouth but don't have much of a Web presence, then SEO is likely what you should concentrate on. If you are starting a new business, it may be worth it to setup some ads through AdWords so you can start getting exposure and getting in front of the right people as they are searching for services you may offer.

In the end, these two strategies aren't mutually exclusive and should be complementary at some point no matter which strategy you start with.

If you'd like to learn more about which strategy would best fit your business, please contact your Internet Marketing Consultant at Page 1 Solutions. If you are a prospective client interested in multi-channel Internet marketing campaigns for lawyers, dentists, plastic surgeons, and opthalmologists, please contact our Sales Team to schedule a FREE consultation and website evaluation!

-By Samuel Solis, Internet Marketing Consultant