Understanding Search Engine Optimization (SEO) isn’t easy. That’s made all the more difficult because SEO is something that’s not only relatively new in the scheme of things, but also because SEO is constantly evolving.

One thing has become clear about SEO however, and that’s the basic structure of it. There are two core types of SEO, and those are Organic SEO, which is not paid for, and Paid SEO, which is obviously paid for. Though the basic division is pretty straightforward, there are in depth details about the two that are vastly different.

What is Organic SEO?

When people think of SEO, what they usually are thinking of is organic SEO. While doesn’t technically cost anything, it does take time that (hopefully) translate into dollar signs.


A set of actions and content modification that naturally boosts the placement of web pages in search engine results.

Examples of Organic SEO strategies:

  • Keywording
  • Keyword analysis
  • Backlinking
  • Link building
  • Tags
  • Metadata
  • Creating relevant content

It’s important to realize that there is an art to organic SEO, a craft to it. There is no perfect formula to get your website to the top of Google. The other aspect to be concerned with is that organic SEO takes time to build, you can’t just turn it on.

Developing great Organic SEO is all about working diligently to not only offer content that is relevant to real people, but also to then properly tag and format that content so that search engines can find it. More and more, search engines are using social media traffic as an aspect of organic SEO, as the links and backlinks included in those platforms come to dominate the internet in an ever increasing fashion.

SEO can always be improved. Mixing up and reoffering content through whitepapers, e-books and pages is a step that can be expanded upon. Improved linking, tags and metadata offer solid and consistent opportunities to push content higher. Of course there is simply generating new and relevant content to keep sites fresh. Google likes websites that are updated consistently!

Organic SEO is a dynamic process, one that requires curated content that continues to be improved upon over time.

5120 Organic and Paid SEO 02

What is Paid SEO?

Paid SEO is commonly called Search Engine Marketing (SEM), and it’s a completely different way to get the word out about your website. SEM is embedded advertising in a search engine. Though it’s supposed to be made clear to consumers that the advertising is paid for, nonetheless it rises to the top of the search results and many consumers don’t even realize that there is a difference. Paid results are across the top and down the sides of the search results page, and are normally delineated by shading, highlights or borders.


Paid advertisements that appear at the top of search engine results. These embedded advertisements have the look and feel of organic results, though they are most often set apart slightly. In some venues, SEM advertisements can offer taglines, links and even pictures. All ads that are placed via SEM are bid based, meaning that advertisers target a certain, often variable price for traffic.

Examples of SEM Strategies

  • Keywording
  • Keyword analysis
  • Paid click analysis
  • Quality score improvement
  • Account restructuring
  • Modified bidding techniques
  • Retargeting

SEM is conducted through the search engine itself, or sometimes through a third party management operation. Search engines like Bing and Google have proprietary systems through which businesses can set up search engine marketing. Getting started with advertising on search engines can be intimidating given the crush of data, but it’s well worth it to get started.

The key to SEM is that there are always opportunities for improvement. This is one place in business where you really do get more out of it when you put more into it. Every refinement that’s made to the structure of the advertisements, including the wording, the bids, and the targeted keywords means better quality visitors and less money spent per click. Changing up the wording slightly in an ad or maneuvering the bid price to be more competitive can unlock a flood of new traffic.

SEM is dynamic, and requires consistent alteration and improvement in order to keep directing high quality traffic to the right places, and again bids and keywords must be consistently modified and improved in order to maximize the effect.

How they work together

It’s plain to see that the main thrust of SEM and SEO are similar – they both focus on adequate keywords followed by strategies that effectively support them. That’s because whether it’s SEO or SEM, internet searches function through algorithms that seek out matches, and those matches manifest through text. If the text doesn’t match properly, then the search results don’t come up.

Solid keyword analysis and content that follows with both long tail and short tail keywords is a unifying strategy that supports both search engine optimization and search engine marketing.

For the most part, the strategies that improve SEO have a positive impact on the effectiveness of SEM. Refining and focusing content is always a positive step and will always help to improve the overall ranking of a website. As for the other direction, most of the real work in SEM takes place on third party sites so the impact isn’t quite as pronounced, but nonetheless there is a direct relationship between improving ranking through paid advertisement and organic methods.

There is a loop to this process.

  1. Better keyword analysis leads to more effective content.
  2. Higher organic search rankings.
  3. Higher quality scores.
  4. Less money spent + higher rankings.
  5. Higher rankings improve SEO.

The circle can go on and on, around and around. SEO and SEM are so closely related that doing good work on one naturally leads to improvements on the other.

The best advice that you can follow when it comes to improving website rankings is to learn as much as you possibly can through reading and experience, or to call in a professional to help you figure out which direction to go with it all. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to tackle taking your content and your traffic.


Pete Peranzo

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