Whenever you search for something on the internet, it becomes immediately apparent that not all search engine results are created equal. Paid advertising in search engines is becoming more common with each passing day, but there is, beneath the ads and sponsorship flair, a complex algorithm at play designed to return a different, often preferred result: the organic search.
What Are Organic Search results?
Organic search refers to search results that are not influenced by ad dollars. Instead, organic search results are listed in order based on their relevance to the original search terms. In contrast, paid advertising results are ranked purely based on how much a company gives the search engine company. Organic search is made possible by complex algorithms that are unique to each search engine (type “best burrito” into different engines and see what you get).
Just how important are organic search results? Eighty-six percent of people who use search engines prefer their results to be organic. For this reason and others like it, success in organic search is the main goal of search engine optimization. Still, even with the best SEO, there are no guarantees — in life or the internet. Ranking at the top takes a lot of work. It is estimated that SEO for an individual website costs between $1,000 and $7,500. Agencies that specialize in optimizing websites for organic search rankings charge between $76 to $200 per hour.
This might sound expensive, but consider how much a large corporation would be willing to spend in paid advertising to get their website surfaced above the organic results. By and large, the cost-per-click for websites with proper SEO is lower than those that rely almost exclusively on paid advertising.
Optimizing For Organic Search
Organic SEO delivers traffic and better organic search results. Optimizing your website for organic search is simple enough. Every time you hit send on a new query, that search engine’s algorithm checks a swathe of relevant websites against a list of predetermined SEO criteria. The most important among them being:
- How efficiently your website has been designed for visitors on mobile devices.
- Usability considerations. How long does it take your website to load? Is your URL unreasonably long or obtuse?
- The thoughtful inclusion of images and video that enhance (and do not detract from) the core purpose of your website.
- How your website is structured. Is all of your HTML and CSS up to date? Do you have any deprecated code lurking somewhere?
- How your links are structured. Always follow best practices for both internal and external links.
- Encryption. The HTTPS protocol provides greater security for your visitors than HTTP. For this reason HTTPS is quickly becoming the standard. Search engine algorithms prefer sites running this protocol.
- Your backlinks. Are there links on other websites that lead to your own? Are those sites reputable, and do they adhere to proper SEO practices?
The overall purpose of SEO is to deliver better organic search results. Running a professional website all but requires you meet (and often exceed) the standards. Because everyone needs SEO for their site to thrive, there is a lot of competition in the rankings. Also, SEO is not a one-time effort. Proper optimization requires regular maintenance, as search engine companies frequently tweak the algorithms that determine organic results. Sometimes these changes lead to unexpected penalties that will drop your site lower in the rankings, even if your site adhered to all the best SEO practices prior to the update.
The Power Of Organic Site Ranking
Search engine optimization alone does not guarantee your site will be ranked among the top results. You may decide the best option for your website is to pursue paid advertising in conjunction with SEO. Often, the top results for any sufficiently popular search are sponsored, making it harder than ever for websites to achieve a true top slot. Add in images and visual aids and there’s a very real chance the top organic searches will end up at the bottom of the page.
Some marketers view the internet’s reliance on organic search results as a problem. Equally frustrating is the near-total dominance of one engine above all others. Access to shopping services that do not require the user to directly access a search engine somewhat ease these fears.