Organic vs Paid Search

Posted by Robert Cerff in Search on 09 December 2015

Tags: local search, paid search, seo

Most searches for information, services and products begin with a visit to a search engine. Real estate is no different with most people turning to a localised search to help them find their next home, be it a purchase or rental property.

When a search engine returns its search results pages (frequently abbreviated as SERP’s), these often without the searcher realising it, contain a mixture of paid and organic search results.  

Paid placement on these search results usually has a website returned in the form of a text advertisement placed above the organic search results or on the right hand side.

The biggest difference between these two different types of search results is that organic search results are returned based on what the search engine algorithm deems a best match to the search being performed at free of charge while paid search returns a targeted advertisement to the searcher at a cost.

Benefits of marketing through organic search include:

  • SEO friendly website: A search engine friendly website is also easily accessible to all online users be it on desktop or mobile device. This ensures a good end user experience.
  • Longtail traffic: There are numerous variations of keywords that can drive traffic to your website.  Often searches similar to your areas and listings will return your website where the search engine would consider your website to be a valid match.
  • Always available: Unlike paid search which places your ads on hold once the budget has been exhausted, when your website is deemed relevant for a related search your website will be returned for that search an unlimited number of times.

Disadvantages of marketing through organic search include:

  • Time: Traditionally being crawled indexed and ranked accordingly does take time. The older a website with a stable history, the more likely it is to be returned for a related search.
  • Content generation: Content remains crucial when ranking a website. Generating the unique quality content can be difficult and time consuming.
  • SEO is an art: Optimising a website for organic searches is as much an art as a science. Fluctuating algorithms and ever changing search trends require regular maintenance, analysis and updates.

Benefits of paid search include:

  • Instant results: Once active your ads will immediately start generating traffic for your website.
  • Custom text ads: Multiple ads can be created for a specific set of keywords. These can include the targeted keywords or more sales specific copy.
  • Defined landing pages: Individual ads can be directed to specific pages. This easily drives traffic to specific services or listings while allowing the opportunity to monitor conversion rates.
  • Instant data: Once active, you’ll be able to measure effectiveness of the ads, which keywords are most frequently searches and which are more competitive.  This data is then used to calculate your return on investment in a fairly short period of time.

Disadvantages of paid search include:

  • Costly: The higher the level of competition, the higher the average cost per click will be as more real estate agencies try to promote their listings.
  • Periods of inactivity: Budgets are defined on a day to day basis, should the budget be exhausted relatively early on a particular day, ads will be placed on hold and only become active the following day.
  • Monitoring: Paid search campaigns require constant, granular monitoring. Underperforming ads and keywords need to be edited or removed while better performing ads and keywords further promoted.

So which form of advertising is best?

The right choice of paid or organic marketing for your online real estate business depends on each business’s particular needs.  Most agencies will see the most benefit from using a combination of these two marketing options. Using paid search can help quickly identify the best performing keywords while letting you implement these into a longer-term organic strategy. This will help increase your relevancy for these organic searches reducing your reliance on paid search and maintaining a good volume of quality traffic over time.