Paid Search vs Organic Search: Which Is Better?

search engine optimization article

Search engine optimization – once an afterthought when compared with other marketing strategies – is now at the forefront of inbound marketing success. The value of having your site show in the search results has been shown time and time again, especially if you can land a high spot on the front page. According to Search Engine Watch, websites that rank at the top of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) win 36.4% of search traffic.

There are two ways to land yourself on the front page of the search, though, which is a fact that often confuses people. Paid search and organic search are both valuable ways to ensure that your company is one of the few that shows up at the top for your target keyword and market, but which is best?

When comparing paid and organic searches, instead of asking which is best, it may be wise to ask which is best for you. Both have unique advantages and disadvantages, so it’s a matter of knowing which will work best for you to get the most out of your marketing dollars. Often people find that using a combination of the two gets the best results, and understanding the differences can help you decide when and how to use which method to maximize your success.

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Organic Search

Organic search results are the ones that appear below the ads. They naturally occur in the search results page because their content is relevant to the searched term, according to the search engine algorithm, and therefore organically add value to the people searching for them. When it comes to the benefits of organic search, the numbers are truly astonishing.

The first 5 organic results on the front page of Google, for instance, account for 67.60% of all clicks, while 6 to 10 account for just 3.73% (Zero Limit Web). The remaining searchers are clicking on the paid ads, trying a new search engine, or giving up entirely.

Numbers aside, here are some of the pros and cons of organic search:


  • Trust: When you’re searching for something on Google, which results are you most likely to select? The top ones, undoubtedly, and that’s because as searches we’ve grown to trust the results. When we’ve clicked on top results in the past, we’ve likely been satisfied, which is going to make us all the more likely to do it again. This perception of credibility works well for your company if you’re at the top of the results because more people are guaranteed to click through to your site.
  • Long-lasting: So long as your content remains relevant, your page is likely going to remain at the top, which simply means more beneficial exposure over a longer period of time. You can think of it as a “set it and forget it” kind of marketing plan because once you put in the effort and resources upfront, you never have to do it again – but you’ll reap the benefits long-term.
  • Click-throughs: If you’re comparing the click-through rates of organic versus paid search, organic makes up nearly 68%, especially for buyers who have interest but not necessarily an immediate purchasing intent. This is especially important for many B2B businesses that have a longer buying cycle.
  • Compounded ranking: Each time you rank high on the search results page, you increase your chances of ranking high again. By ranking high, you not only build trust with users, but you also build a good reputation with search engines. The more authority status the engines give you, the higher you’ll rank over time.


  • Initial investment: At the heart of great organic search results is great content; content can be anything from articles and whitepapers, to videos and infographics, but the best content utilizes Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics and can take some time to produce. Whether it’s internal staff or outsourced contractors, someone will have to take the time to research and create the content, which means that it will inevitably be a lofty investment.
  • Time: On top of that, ranking for highly competitive keywords can take months or even years, so there’s a good chance your marketing team will be at it awhile. If you’re able to stick it out and see your efforts through to achieve high ranking, the return on investment is almost a guarantee, so stick with it and try different methods until you find the one that works best for you.

Paid Search

In essence, paid search results are advertisements for your company. Generally speaking, you associate an ad with certain keywords, and when a user searches for those keywords your ad displays at the very top of the search results, in a section marked as “ads”. If the user clicks on your listing, you pay a small amount, which is why it’s called Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. The placement of your ad compared with your competitor’s ad depends on the amount that each of you bid for a certain keyword, as well as a few other factors.

The pros and cons of PPC advertising have some similarities and differences to those of organic search:


  • Time: Paid search rankings show at the top of results as soon as you pay for the ad placement, rather than after months of time and resource investment. You simply decide the keywords you want to rank for, the message you want those searchers to see, and define a budget for the search engine to work within. It’s fast and can be very effective.
  • Success after click-through: Paid search is geared toward the more serious and eager buyer. Though it accounts for much less search traffic than organic results, the actual revenue amounts for each search time are quite comparable.
  • Targeting: Paid search is tailored to reach certain audiences, so if you’re targeting correctly, you have a high chance of getting your message in front of the people you want to see it. Not only can you target by keyword, but you can filter even further and segment by location, marital status, education level, and much more. It can take a bit of effort to discover which combination of factors is best for your exact audience, but honing in on it can have great results.


  • Cost: In general, PPC advertising can be quite costly for a few reasons. First, bid price is based on keyword, so the more competitive the keyword, the higher the price will be for each click on your display ad. And, paid search advertising requires a high level of expertise and understanding to be successful, so you’ll have to find a knowledgeable person or team to manage the campaigns.
  • Short-lived: As soon as you stop paying for PPC ads they go away, so they don’t have the same long-term effect that organic search content can have.
  • Lack of trust: Drawing on the example from the organic search results section, users tend to select organic results before they’ll click on the ads at the top of the page because there isn’t the same level of trust. People know that they’re paid for ads, so there can be a certain suspicion over how relevant the information might actually be. Though numbers vary among studies, it’s generally shown that roughly 10% of clicks were the result of paid listings. The organic listings simply have more credibility among searchers, so they’re more likely to get selected.

When it comes to best practices for SEO and ranking on SERPs, generally a combination of organic and paid nets the greatest results. Utilizing both ensures visibility and also increases credibility, secures everlasting search results, and targets buyers at multiple parts of the buying cycle.

Mix and match how you utilize search for your marketing strategies, making sure to track the results so you can improve things as you go and try new tactics when the current ones aren’t working. Search engine optimization takes time and effort, regardless of which method you use, but the results are always worth it.

5 Reasons Why You Need Video Marketing (Video)

Video content marketing blog

Move over, articles and blogs; video marketing is the new heir to the content throne.

You’ve heard every adage out there when it comes to content marketing: content is king; if content is king, then context is God; content is king, distribution is queen. Yet, what really is content marketing? I think Content Marketing Institute said it best:

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Instead of directly talking about a product or service to drive sales, your goal in content marketing is to spread information. You share knowledge with your target audience in hopes that with a better level of understanding they’ll be able to make an informed decision about the subject of your content (and hopefully your products or services, too) and view your company and brand as a thought leader in the future.

Content can be any kind of media, really, but the most common types of content in marketing are written marketing (blogs, ebooks, white papers, etc.) and video marketing. And while written marketing has often been thought of as the true powerhouse of content marketing, video marketing is really starting to have legs. If you haven’t started exploring video for your own content marketing efforts, here are a few reasons why we think you should.

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It’s More Memorable Than Written Content

Remember that catchy jingle or slogan from those commercials when you were a kid? How about the words to all those cartoon movies you once cherished (“There are no happy endings because nothing ends”)? No matter what we do we can’t get them out of our heads, meanwhile many of the books we once read seem to be ‘in one ear and out the other’, so to say.

That’s because our brains are susceptible to something called regression – which is that tendency for us to have to read and reread a concept in order to fully grasp it. Don’t blame yourself, though, audiences will retain 95% of a message that they watch in a video, compared to 10% retention when the message is read in text (Pop Video).

Videos are memorable; they have images and sound, patterns and repetition, and qualities that tend to stick. We use multiple senses when we watch videos and our brains seem to love that. According to Idea Rocket, 80% of customers remember a video they viewed in the past month. It’s a powerful medium, and if you aren’t one of the businesses taking advantage of it you could lose out against your competitors who are.

Video Has Good Return on Investment (ROI)

Content marketing in general has been shown to be worth its weight in gold, since organic search traffic is so much more desirable than that of paid advertising. Everyone wants to be Number One on Google, and you just can’t do that without good content. And while it can take up more resources to make videos than it does to write an article, 83%of businesses say digital video has a strong ROI according to a study done by Wyzowl – so it’s worth the effort.

Video conversion rates outperform other marketing content by 70% (Vidyard), which means a dollar spent on video will get you a lot farther than a dollar spent on other efforts. People like to watch videos, it’s a pretty simple concept. In fact, there’s a saying that goes, “Video is like pizza – even if it’s bad, it’s still pretty good”, which speaks volumes to its value.       

Videos Are Easier to Consume for Smartphone Users

Admit it, you’re reading this article from your phone right now. If you aren’t, you’re in the minority, because 56% of people access websites from their phone or device, rather than a desktop computer. It’s now easier than ever to consume information on a commute to work, while taking a break in the day, or even while multitasking alongside another activity. Luckily, this creates the perfect opportunity for companies to reach audiences outside of working hours like they once had to. Now, your ideal client might be checking you out while he’s out and about, or at home relaxing – so make it easy for him to understand your best stuff!

If you’ve optimized your site, then it’s already responsive and ready for mobile access; make sure your content is, too. Include videos as a part of your existing blog posts to boost their effectiveness, or have them as stand-alone pieces that send a strong message on their own. And, while it’s true that two-thirds of consumers prefer videos that are under 60 seconds (Insivia), that doesn’t mean that longer videos will go unwatched.

If you’ve got a good message that adds value, your audience is likely to watch it regardless of its length. Professionally made, well-presented videos are great for telling a story, but even a good Facebook Live recording has its place and time. If you’ve got information to give, people will come to get it.

Video Content Is Favored by Social Media and Search Sites

If you’ve ever searched for something on Google, chances are you’ve noticed that relevant videos sit comfortably at the top of the organic results. Likewise as you’ve been thumbing through social media sites lately, surely you’ve recognized the trend of video content popping up much more frequently than still images, and especially more often than plain text. In fact, the Facebook algorithm is admittedly set up so that videos show up more frequently than other forms of content (Entrepreneur), with the focus being the curation of the most relevant and engaging content for audiences.

It centers around the idea that video content is easy to consume, and has the ability to spread information in a concise, shareable, and meaningful way. Studies show that 59% of executives will watch a video on a topic, rather than reading about it, if both platforms are available, and 54% of senior executives share work-related videos with their colleagues weekly (Insivia). Over time video has become one of the most popular ways for people to get information, so it’s no surprise that it’s given special treatment.   

It Encourages Social Sharing and Builds Trust

People love video. It’s easy to say at this point, and it’s true; studies show that 55% of people watch videos online every day (Insivia). More than half of people online each day prefer watching videos because it’s visual, it’s emotional, it has the power to make us laugh or cry, to teach us something new. It sticks in our minds after we watch it, and impacts us on a subconscious level.

People feel personally connected to messages in videos, it builds trust with a viewer. Trust is the foundation of conversions and sales, but the word “sales” doesn’t mean that your videos need to be about your product or what you do. Provide people with interesting, useful information and the rest will fall into place. Content marketing is about building trust and long-term relationships with people, and video can act as a one-stop-shop for this.

And, if a person feels emotionally connected to an idea, they’re going to want to share it. According to a study done by Wyzowl, 76% of users said they would share a branded video with their friends if it was entertaining. Social shares increase traffic, traffic increases sales; it’s an obvious pathway to conversion if you know how to take it there.

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video marketing infographic

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Video content marketing was slow to start but has since been gaining exponential popularity. Some projections even show that video will account for 74% of all online traffic by the end of 2018. With the relatively low bar to entry and the infinite possibilities, there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t start exploring video for your own content marketing efforts.

Need a little help getting started, or aren’t sure if you have the resources needed to make videos? Talk to us today about our animated video services!  

What Your Professional Website Says About Your Business

What a professional website says about your business

(And what it should say)

We’ve all been there; you’re excited about a new company or product, or maybe you’re applying for a new job and want to check out the company before committing. You’re searching for more information, so what’s the first thing you do? You visit a website. Whether you’re sleuthing a potential new tool, investigating a competitor, or simply browsing around in a fit of boredom, chances are you visit websites quite often – they’re ubiquitous! – which is why it’s more important than ever to have a killer site representing your brand and business.

First impressions are everything, especially in today’s highly saturated and competitive environment. It’s someone’s introduction to your brand – like the business card of modern technology – so it needs to be a great experience; otherwise, your prospect may pass you over for the competition.

There can be a lot of pressure and confusion around setting up a good professional website, after all, it’s meant to represent YOU, so naturally, you want it to be perfect. Here are some of the most important factors to consider when setting up or improving a website, and what you can do if yours doesn’t adhere to these standards.

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It may seem like common sense, but good website navigation is one of the most important aspects of a quality website design. Think about it this way, you don’t want your site visitors to have to figure out how to use your site, you want it to be intuitive. Their journey around your page should be well thought out and choreographed based on the journey you want them to take; tell them where to go so that you can show them exactly what you want!

The Bad:

  • Cryptic and confusing menus with no clear structure or flow.
  • An overwhelming number of choices and options, creating confusion and communicating a general lack of planning.
  • An illogical setup that isn’t in-line with your buyer persona or what you want to express about your brand.
  • Clunky or out-of-date design that leads to unnecessary difficulty when finding things on the site.

The Good:

  • Your navigation bar is concise and free from clutter, and any menus you have are straightforward and easy to follow.
  • The buyer’s journey is intuitive and purposeful, with no excess information or choices beyond what is necessary.
  • An architecture that’s based around your target audience, your brand goals, and the content you might create in the future.
  • Modern, responsive design that keeps up with trends and communicates that you care. It tells potential customers that you are paying attention to your field and adjusting accordingly.

Branding and Appearance

Branding is at the core of your business; it’s the essence of who you are and what you want that to mean to the world. Your brand is something you should have well-defined before even starting your website design since it’s central to everything you do – from the conversations you have to the content you publish.

Your website is the first thing a potential buyer is going to look at, so make sure that the appearance – the font, images, logo design, even the type of language and voice that you use – coincides with your brand.

The Bad:

  • Your design is generic, you use obvious stock images with no weight behind them, and your color scheme is random, out of place, or non-existent.
  • The tone and feel of your content changes drastically from page-to-page, communicating a lack of planning or focus.  
  • Your web copy feels forced, generic, or simply out of place.
  • Your logo doesn’t fit in.
  • Your website does little to reflect your business or the message you’re trying to send.

The Good:

  • You’ve either customized your design in-house or hired a company to do so, but it’s tailored perfectly to your brand colors, fonts, and graphics, and reflects exactly who and what you want your business to be.
  • Your voice is confident and consistent. It is obvious that you are a thought leader in your area of specialty and your content always delivers value and purpose.
  • The copy on your site is clearly written by someone who understands your brand well and can articulate your purpose. It isn’t overly wordy and helps carry a site visitor along in their journey without any extra fluff or jargon.
  • Your logo is a professional representation of your business; an embodiment of the company’s mission, values, and culture rolled into one graphic.
  • Your website lets visitors know exactly who you are and what they can gain from interacting with you. It is branded well and is something you proudly share within your community.


Your website will do nothing for you if it doesn’t work. If it’s slow to load, isn’t mobile-friendly, or if it’s generally not easy to use, people are going to click away just as soon as they came in. Regardless of changes in design trends and technology, these core aspects remain important and it’s easy to see why.

Forty percent of people say that they’ll abandon a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load (source) and 56 percent of people access websites from their phone, rather than a desktop computer (source). Simply put, if your website doesn’t work well people aren’t going to want to use it.

The Bad:

  • Your site has so much going on that it takes ages to load.
  • On the desktop your site looks great, but it isn’t mobile optimized and information is lost when people access it from their smartphones and devices.
  • Your visitors aren’t sure where to find the information they’re looking for and spend too much time navigating its layered, complex structure.

The Good:

  • Your domain hosting service is rock solid and you’ve reduced plugins, custom applications, media, and anything else slowing down your load speeds so that your site is lightning quick – on the homepage and anywhere else a user might be landing.
  • Your whole site shows on a mobile device. Information is readily available and easily digested in the smaller formatting. If your hosting platform didn’t have this feature built in naturally, you employed the help of experts to make sure that your customers could find you from anywhere.
  • Simple is better in today’s website trends. Your site is free of clunky layering, unnecessary add-ons or pages that distract from the real purpose of the site. A visitor knows exactly where to begin on the site and exactly where their journey ends. There are clear calls to action, contact information is easy to find, and important details like pricing and testimonials aren’t hidden away.

If you put a genuine focus on making your site good for your target audience, you’re guaranteed to increase traffic, secure more conversions, and inevitably land more sales. With so many countless resources available for improving your site there’s really no reason not to make a few changes if you feel that the time has come.

Take back the control and make sure your website says exactly what you want it to say about your business.

Referral Programs: Do Your Customers Tell Their Friends About You?

Referral program

Referral programs are the holy grail when it comes to B2C sales, but does it translate to B2B? Sources like Refersion say absolutely, citing some pretty compelling data. Companies with B2B referral programs see more growth in general, and customers who were referred have a greater lifetime value. This means that referrals not only bring customers in, they keep them around longer, and with a better overall relationship over the time you work together.

The concept of referrals is simple: buyers trust the opinions of the people around them, especially those who they respect and know have high standards. If a trusted friend or colleague provides them with glowing feedback for a company that perfectly fits their needs (ideally your company), they’re more likely to check it out and approach it with greater confidence than they would have if they found it through an ad or general online search.

Referral programs take the legwork out of finding potential products and suppliers, so they benefit your prospects, too. It removes the risk of the unknown, which makes people feel safe in making such important decisions (that often come with a high price tag). The higher the stakes, the more likely people are going to want to have a trusted source of information as well. So if you’re offering a service that’s going to cause some major changes and downtime – CRM migration, for instance – it’s going to be invaluable to have third-party endorsements on your side.

In fact, 69% of companies with referral programs report that their deals are closing faster (Influitive), so if you don’t have a program in place, you could really be missing out.

Think it will be too hard to get referrals from your current clients? Think again. According to Influitive, 91% of customers said they’d happily provide referrals for companies they love.

If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you don’t have a super successful referral program in place, but don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Here are some tips on how to get some referrals and keep them consistently flowing in.

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Be Proactive

If you’re waiting for your customers to come to you with a referral, you’re probably going to be waiting awhile. That’s not to say that your customers don’t know anyone who could benefit from your services, or even that they don’t want to give you a referral; it just means they aren’t directly thinking of it – which is why you have to.

The best way to know if a customer is ready to give a referral is by first understanding their experience with your company and services. Are they happy? Is there room for improvement? By opening up an avenue for conversation, you can find out who the best candidates are for referrals, and start planning your targeted approach.

One of the best ways to gain insight and feedback from your customers is with a survey. Make sure to ask questions that result in honest, actionable results. You can use software like Google Forms or SurveyMonkey, or you can have a good old-fashioned conversation to check how things are going. When you know who your most loyal customers are, you’ll have a better idea of where your best referrals will come from.     

Take Advantage of the Positive

The most valuable referrals come after your customer has had a positive experience with your services, or at least has been reminded of them in a recent conversation. With a current success at the forefront of your customer’s mind, they’re much more likely to refer you than if their experience has been anything other than exemplary.

Think about it this way, you wouldn’t request a raise from your boss just after a subpar month of performance, and this is no different. If you aren’t delivering on what you promised a customer (which can simply be a failure in your onboarding system to set up realistic expectations), they probably won’t want to refer you.

If you’ve got some stellar metrics to present to your customer, or they gave glowing feedback in your survey, take advantage of that and ask away. Chances are they’ll be excited to do it.

Make it Easy

Being mindful of your customer’s time can take you a long way when it comes to asking for a referral, so make the process for them as easy as possible. Provide clear instructions that walk them through the process from start to finish, so they aren’t having to take the time to fill in gaps or tie up loose ends. Offer them a sample template that they can send to the person they want to refer, for instance, or see if you can be the one to facilitate a three-way call or meeting. Anything you can do to take the heavy lifting out of the process for them will make it all the easier for them to agree to the referral.

If you feel like you’re met with resistance or pushback to the idea, though, back off a bit and let them know that they can come to you if and when they’re ready. Pushing them on it again isn’t likely to get you anywhere. Once things have cooled off a bit, you may be able to approach them with a different way they can advocate for your company without having to directly refer you, such as leaving an online review, doing a testimonial, or anything else that allows them to give you a vote without as high of stakes.

Offer Incentives

I think it goes without saying, that people like to get things – especially in exchange for something they’re going out of their way to do. It’s not to say that people won’t refer you if they aren’t going to get anything in return. If you’re doing great work for them, they’re going to want to share their secret, but why not sweeten the deal a little?

You know your customers better than anyone, so you’ll know what they want in an incentive. Maybe you get them a gift card to Starbucks or Amazon, or a free month of your services. If you don’t have a ton of resources to work with but still want to say thanks, sending a small yet thoughtful gift in the mail can go a long way, too.  

In a referral program we designed and implemented for our client Grifols, we sent healthy snack boxes as a tangible thank you for when a donor referred a friend and saw great results. They weren’t premium boxes with top dollar price tags, but the gesture let people know that they were appreciated, which had a major positive impact.

Be Referable

I know this seems a bit obvious, but since referral marketing is one of the most powerful ways to land new leads and increase sales, it’s worth putting an extra focus on being referable. You already do great work and your customer knows this; it’s part of why they picked you and why you still work together. But even if you think you’re doing your very best, there are likely areas in which you can improve, that you just may not have thought of yet.

This can be something as simple as interacting with them on social media or mentioning them in a blog post, or even sharing an article with them that you think they might find value. Anything that goes beyond the basics of delivering what you promise (or more!) is going to be recognized and appreciated. Make your customers feel special, communicate to them that you care and that you fully understand their needs, and they’re likely to repay the favor.

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referral programs infographic

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Referral marketing is one of the best, low-cost ways to bring in new leads, increase sales, and overall improve customer loyalty, and luckily the concept isn’t rocket science. Word-of-mouth has a way of spreading like wildfire, even if there’s just a small encouragement to ignite the flame.

By doing exemplary work, listening, asking when the time is right, and making it easy, you should be able to increase your loyalty and referral rate in no time. Get creative with the process, experiment, try different things out to see what works; there isn’t one right way to do referral marketing, but the one wrong way to do it is not doing it at all.