The differences between Natural and Paid Search
What is search?
Often known as SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and PPC (Pay-Per-Click); natural and paid search ultimately aim to do the same thing – make your website/content more visible to search engines, and therefore to the human beings conducting the searches!
However both techniques take a very different road to reach this goal. We’ll go through both types in a little more detail below:
PPC is, as the name suggests, based on paying for your link to appear against relevant search terms, using an auction model. This means that you bid for certain search terms, stipulating your maximum bid and then, based on the relevance of your site against the string of terms being searched against, how competitive the search term is and how much you are prepared to pay, you will appear in one of the positions shown below:
You only pay when the user clicks your link. This can mean that you are able to be very specific about deciding whether your site appears against a search term and in time, you can understand how much a particular term is worth to you as a business, by monitoring how often someone who comes to your site having searched on the term converts into a sale.
By continually monitoring and optimising your paid search strategy you can create a very efficient ROI.
However, users are increasingly savvy online and some look deliberately for natural search results, which are these ones:
Natural search in this example is organised via complex and mostly secret elements of a Google algorithm. The exact formula has never been shared outside of Google, but many have guessed at what the key performers are, to get your link to the top of the list.
Some of the key parts which are known attribute relevance to:
- The content of your site – are keywords regularly featured in the copy? (there is an optimum amount, too liberally peppered copy is decreased in value)
- How other sites link to and reference yours – lots of inbound links (other sites creating links to your content, showing that it is considered valuable and useful my many)
- Originality – Google downgrades sites if it finds many with the same content, known as boiler plate content. So if you run a network of sites, ensure that each is unique.
- Meta data – this is the mostly hidden naming of the pages within your site, which Google uses to reference what information each page contains – these should be descriptive and use keywords to help Google make relevant connections
- Link text – historically people always made the words ‘click here’ a link, however the words ‘click here’, ‘contact us’, and ‘more information’ are generic and Google cannot identify what you are clicking for, so it is important to make your link text specific, for example ‘click for more information on how to optimise your site for natural search’
- Alt Tags – if you manage your website or blog yourself you may well upload images. Make sure that you always complete the field of Alternative Tag. This is one way that Google understand what an image is of – important as search results now include images. It also means that if an image doesn’t display, the user knows what it was of, instead of just seeing a blank box.
Natural search, as well as paid search, is mostly and rightly, about making sure that your site is directly and obviously relevant to what a user is looking for. However some of the areas mentioned above show that it is important to tick certain boxes so that search engines also realise that you are relevant. Many of these areas just require some strategic thinking each time you write a blog post, upload an image, create and name a new page of your website etc.
Some of this it is easy to do yourself, other areas are easier done with some support – if you need any search support, feel free to contact us at Gritt.