Organic Marketing Vs. Paid Marketing Online What you should know and how to make informed choices.

SEO vs SEM an informative overview

First, an explanation.

When discussing online traffic, there are two types, paid and organic. Paid means that you’re spending money to rank online. This can be accomplished via individual campaigns like those offered on social media or by targeting keywords directly through paid google ads. You are participating in paid ads if you spend money online on advertising, boosting, or keyword bidding. Organic marketing relies on the power of your website, backlinking, and referral sites to help you climb the ranks of the search engine results from pages.

Let’s explore organic marketing techniques and their benefits.

Organic marketing includes blog posts, case studies, guest posts, unpaid social media posts, and customer reviews. This is the basis of search engine optimization (SEO). You generate traffic to your business online through organic marketing without using paid ads (Riserbato, 2021). Think of organic marketing as attending a networking event. You hand out your business cards and interact with individuals individually in an intimate setting. For demonstration purposes, your business card online is every post you create on social media or your website. The more business cards you hand out, the higher the likelihood of people contacting you for your services.

The easiest way to begin organic marketing is by regularly creating and updating social media profiles. Remember to only post or share content that directly relates to or benefits your business. If you sell shoes, you don’t want to get into an online political debate. Keep your personal opinions and professional stance separate, unless that is your brand and how you wish to be represented online. Use deductive reasoning to establish what you should and shouldn’t post online. Ask yourself if posting ‘xyz’ online will benefit your business and brand; if you wouldn’t say it in a professional setting, it is best not to post it online. After all, the internet never forgets

Now that we have a basic understanding of organic marketing, let’s look at paid marketing.

You participate in paid marketing when you spend money on an ad or boost a post – this is commonly referred to as SEM (search engine marketing). There are many ways to pay for ads online. The most common is with Google Ads or paying for higher ranks via an online business listing such as those offered with Yelp, Nextdoor, Alignable, or Apple Search Ads. No matter the platform, the basics are similar. You spend money to get ranked higher online; you can tailor this to a specific word, set of keywords, or even a service and geographic area (Coleman, 2021).  Think of paid ads like placing a billboard on the side of the highway. If people drive that way, they will see your business. In this instance, the platform you opt to advertise on is the road. So, if you use Google ads, if people search on Google for the keywords or terms you’ve elected to bid for, you should show up.

When you’re ready to spend money to make money there are a few things you need to remember. Firstly, do your research or utilize a professional.

If you’d like to go it alone, you do not have to do so unpreparedly. There are a number of free training courses offered by Google and Hubspot that teach about SEO and SEM; if you want to learn more before deciding to spend your hard-earned cash, these are highly recommended courses for gaining a better understanding of what organic and paid marketing consists of and how to prepare your website to be more internet friendly. While this route may not be suited for everyone, it can be for the enthusiastic go-getter. Simply remember to read and understand what you are reading before you spend your money. This will save you from heartache and disappointment down the road. Do yourself a favor and create a SMART goal backed with logical and realistic timelines.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help, and if you are wanting to increase your online presence with paid ads, I highly recommend utilizing the specialized skills of a professional.

Working with an experienced individual fluent in SEO and SEM may seem like the logical choice, but knowing where to find such an individual may be daunting. However, check credentials, ask for references, and if at any point you feel talked down to or disrespected – find someone else to work with. If you cannot communicate with the person in your employment, you should fire them and find someone else. There is a whole sea of potential business partners -don’t saddle yourself with someone you can’t trust or talk to. Three things you’ll want to look for when deciding to hire an outside party for paid advertising are as follows:

  • Accountability and Communication: the person you select should not only be fluent in the proper terminology but should be able to translate that into something you can understand. Hold them accountable for the knowledge they claim to possess and ask questions until you understand what they are saying.
  • Reporting: all paid campaigns should come with reporting. You need to know where you are starting, where they expect you to be, and your progress. Remember that SEO and SEM take time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask for updates, though I do recommend you save yourself from going crazy and limit these requests to a minimum of once a month.
  • Customization: There is no one size fits all ad campaign. Ask for the results you’d like to accomplish, then work within your budget to get as close to these as possible.

No matter what route you opt to take, everything you need to be successful online, with either organic or paid marketing, is but a click away. Remember to remain true to your business and to be professional and the rest will fall into place.  


Coleman, B. (2021, April 6). Paid Social Media: Worth The Investment? Retrieved March 11, 2023, from

Riserbato, R. (2021, September 14). Organic Marketing vs. Paid Marketing: Everything You Need to Know. Retrieved March 11, 2023, from

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Barbara

    What an excellent read! Thank you, Mohala!

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  • Post last modified:April 8, 2023
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