Google AdWords vs Organic Search Engine Optimisation

Written on 01 June, 2007 by WebCentral
Categories: Pay Per Click, Search Engine Optimisation

Pay Per Click (PPC) is a paid online advertising model, using programs such as Google AdWords. Pay Per Click results usually appear as a “sponsored link” above or besides the normal (aka organic) search engine results.

Organic search engine results are the natural, unpaid search engine results that are determined by the search engine.

Although, both organic results and PPC results are displayed on the same page, there are numerous differences between them:

PPC results can start showing up within hours as compared to organic search results which may take several months to appear. With PPC you are paying for your ads to be displayed when certain keywords are used in a search.

With organic results, although there are many services (such as search engine optimisation) that are designed to boost your position in the organic rankings, you do not have to do anything to acquire an organic search engine position. The search engines will crawl your website and add your content to their index and rank it compared to the rest of the results they have.

Of the two options, PPC gives much greater control over what advertisement you wish to display, who you wish to display your URL to and when. While with organic results, it is much more dependent upon the search engines and their algorithms.

That said, organic results can be influenced, through a process known as search engine optimisation (SEO), that is designed to present your website pages in the best light to the search engines. A well optimised web page can rank far higher than a non-optimised page.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

Organic Search Engine Optimisation

Organic search engine rankings are more cost effective as compared to a Pay Per Click program. According to a study conducted in 2005-06, 70% of the search engine visitors reported clicks on organic search engine rankings with 30% using on the Pay Per Click results. One of the drawbacks of organic search engine rankings is the duration required to get your website within the top listings. Also, the ever changing search engine ranking algorithms means the process needs to be ongoing to be successful.

Pay Per Click

The major benefit of a Pay Per click program is the immediacy and the complete control of listings available to the advertiser. Bidding under the Google AdWords program starts from $0.01 and Yahoo Overture starts from $0.10 which promises a very cost effective method of acquiring customers. For competitive keywords, however, the bidding can soar to a very unattractive $15 per click! Achieving top positions for some of the search phrases under the sponsored results can cost thousands of dollars a day.


The dream scenario for any website owner is to have top organic search engine positions for all the keywords and phrases that are important to your business. This would deliver a constant stream of qualified traffic to your website every hour and cost you nothing. Getting to that position for anything other than niche markets, can require special services to optimise your website such as SEO, but as a long-term strategy this is the way to go.

For the vast majority of website owners, a top position in the organic results never happens, and Pay Per Click is a powerful tool to reach the same audience. PPC also allows you to run campaigns in the short term (such as a sale) that would be pointless to aim for organically.

In reality, the most successful websites will utilise a combination of search engine optimisation techniques and Pay Per Click to maximise the traffic to their websites and increase their return on investment.