Today we’re going to take it back to the basics. If you are a seasoned marketer, you likely know the answer to this post. However, small business owners might not know the difference between pay per click and organic traffic. After all, you have a business to manage; keeping up on the plethora of search engine and marketing terms isn’t really priority number one.
So let’s dive in.
Pay Per Click
Pay per click is a term used to describe a type of online advertising. It is a model for payment which actually is self-defining. You only pay when a viewer clicks on your ad. Viewing an ad doesn’t count towards your budget.
One of the most common forms of pay per click advertising is the search ad. These are text ads that appear in the search results of search engines like Google or Bing. They look relatively similar to a typical search result, but Google has made it clear with an “Ad” annotation that the search result is paid for by a company. The screenshot below shows examples of these search ads that target different words or phrases that a user types in.
So when I searched for “chiropractors in newport beach”, I was provided with four ads right at the top of the search results. Now, none of these practices actually paid for me to see those ads because I did not click on any of them. Had I clicked on them, they would have paid for my click. That number is determined based on how much they bid on the term “chiropractors in newport beach” or related term.
Other forms of pay per click advertising can include display ads which are image or video-based ads that you can place on other websites. For example, on ESPN.com I saw the ads highlighted in red. Odds are that Allstate purchased a bulk amount of impressions and are paying on a cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) basis as opposed to a pay per click basis. However, you can choose to have display ads served on a pay per click basis.
There are a lot of other aspects when it comes to pay per click marketing but for simplicity’s sake, let’s keep it to that for now. Next, let’s check out what organic traffic is.
Organic traffic typically refers to organic search traffic, though it can also be applied to organic referral traffic from non-paid Facebook and social media posts. But let’s start with organic search traffic. Let’s move back to the “chiropractors in newport beach” example.
The first four results that I received when I did that search were paid ads. However, if I scroll further down you’ll see the fourth ad, outlined in red, a map with some local listings, and then a number of other search results. The items outline in purple are all non-paid for search results, or organic. That means they naturally come up when a person searches for “chiropractors in newport beach”. The websites that show up in the organic section do NOT pay when a user clicks on their website. Below that, you’ll also see some more paid ads.
So that has been our “back to basics” explanation on the difference between pay per click and organic traffic. If you are still curious or have questions, you can always contact us.