Most internet users are familiar with the way search engines organize results. Sponsored or paid links are usually placed on the sides of the search results, or as the first few links on each search page. Organic search results round out the rest of the page’s content, and are determined based on the merit and relevance of each individual page. It is essential that you learn the difference between these two, because each can have an important place in your marketing mix or online activities.
Paid results are those that are usually designated as “sponsored.” These spaces are sold by search engines to advertisers. If you are searching for a specific keyword, then the first results will be from the top-paying advertisers. Sometimes people confuse these links with organic (unpaid) results, but most internet users can easily tell the difference. Paid results are often set off from the main page, usually with different font colors or background color. Search engines also have to label these results so that searchers are aware that they achieved their position with payment.
When you click on paid results, you should know that the links will be primarily revenue-generating sites. The sites presented are business-related, or sometimes non-profits looking for donations. Just know that any information in these links will be slanted toward the product or service sold on the site. Researchers generally avoid paid results.
Organic results are search results which are based on webpage content, as opposed to advertising revenue. Hopefully, users will get mostly relevant results when searching for a particular keyword. There are literally thousands of pages available for any given search term, so search engines have to use a precise method to determine ranking. Their algorithms use factors such as keywords, meta-tags, site descriptions, and traffic patterns to determine ranking.
Although user error or improper tagging can cause some irrelevant results, organic search results will be your best bet for most information. Organic links will give you the pages that have achieved rank by being high-quality, useful sources for people who have performed the same search in the past. Organic results are generally considered to be more informational and trustworthy. Paid results will be sites that are trying to sell you something. If you’re not out to buy anything, then you may get a lot more value out of skipping to the organic listings.