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What is the difference between organic listings vs sponsored listings/ads?

When you perform a search the first few listings are usually sponsored results. Sponsored Listings also appear on in a sidebar. Sponsored listings are usually a different background color with the words “Ads” or are indicated by small “Ad” icon. Advertisers bid against each other for prominent positions. Basically whoever is willing to pay the highest amount per click (PPC) get’s the top position.

Then you have Organic Listings. Organic Listings are generated by Google’s Search Algorithm to provide users with the most relevant results. Statistically, Organic Listings are more effective and have a higher conversion ratio.

Which one is right for me?

If you’re budget allows it, it’s best to have both a Sponsored Listing and Organic Listing. If you need results right away, and you’re budget allows it, you should go with a Sponsored Listing. Overall, you’ll want to invest for the long term to reap the rewards that come with a high ranking Organic Listing.

PPC (Pay-Per-Click)


  • Instant results: You can pay to list your site in the top results within 24 hours.
  • Control: You can target keywords, and geo locations with fine precision.
  • Flexibility: You can add/remove keywords as needed. You can cut keywords that aren’t performing.
  • A/B Testing: Having instant results will allow you to A/B test campaigns more effectively.


  • Cost: PPC is often very competitive. PPC puts in a bidding war with competitors for each keyword.
  • Complexity: Setting up a campaign is very complex and it’s easy to make costly mistakes such as improper keyword targeting.



  • Free traffic: In some cases, such as a blog or news site, it may drive significant search traffic.


  • Time: It take months to years to rank for even a low competition keyword. The fact is most sites never break through to page 1, let alone within the 1st 10 pages/100 results.
  • Targeting: Targeting is broad and unpredictable. A significant amount of the traffic to your site will be unqualified.
  • Unknowns: You really have no idea if the keyword you’re targeting will drive adequate traffic, and how it will perform.
  • Inadequate traffic: If you finally reach the 1st position you may be disappointed to see that there’s not nearly as much traffic as you had expected. When Google’s data shows a keyword generates 3,000 searches a month, you’ll find it’s a highly skewed estimate when you’re only generating 25 visits per month. How can it be so far off. Odds are the 3-4 ads running above position 1 are capturing all the traffic.
  • Commitment: Once you target a keyword, you’re married to it for the long haul. Sure you may rank for similar keywords, but you’ll never rank #1 for all. If you ever reach page 1 then end up with inadequate traffic, you can’t just change keywords. It’s time and money wasted. It’s not uncommon for competitors ranking #1 to also be advertising. Chances are they wasted time and money on organic SEO too.
  • Unpredictable: Google regularly changes their search engine algorithm to prevent anyone from gaming their system, and positions fluctuate constantly. Methods to rank today may not work tomorrow.


Unless you run a news, or blog site, Pay-Per-Click is the clear winner. PPC and advertising in general is extremely complex from end to end. Hire us to manage an effective PPC campaign for your business.