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A search engine is an online resource that lets users find the information that they are looking for. It is a window into the vast resources of the World Wide Web. A user is required to type a query into the search engine window and the search engine returns a set of results, ranked in the order of relevance, with the most relevant appearing at the top of the page. The query is generally in the form of a word or a phrase.

A search engine’s ability to return the most relevant and comprehensive results is what distinguishes one search engine form the other. For instance, the Google search engine is known to evaluate over 200 factors while determining which results to display on top of the search results page. These proprietary search algorithms make Google the leader in the search engine space.

Statistics reveal that Google (with 90% market share) answers more than 1 billion queries a day from people in 181 countries and 146 languages.

Types of Search Listings in google:

Google displays the two types of results or listings for any query:

  • Organic (Natural or Free)
  • Paid (Sponsored or Advertised)

Before we discuss the points of differentiation and points of similarity between SEO and SEM, let us identify these as we see them on a Search Result Page.

Organic and Paid listings

These two types of listings are displayed separately on the Google search results page (refer figure). The organic listings take up the prominent section in the center while the paid results are listed on top of search results with the title “Ads”,  the right hand side or the bottom of the search result page.

Which Types of Online Advertising Is Effective for My Business?

Just like traditional marketing methods, online marketing is also based on the effort-cost-benefit considerations. Varying budgets and levels of involvements need different approach. In the online space, the two types of widely marketing approaches are:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

In this approach, new websites are created (or existing websites are modified) in order to obtain a higher ranking in the organic listings of a search engine. This approach does not expect the marketer to have an advertising budget, and in turn, the advertiser should be prepared to have little or no control over when and how his website appears among the search results.  This approach is widely popular among markets as there are very low barriers on entry.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or Google Ads

SEM is a process of marketing and promoting a website through paid advertisements on the search engines. A marketer has lot of flexibility and control over his advertisements. The pricing, placement and marketing budgets can be easily managed for this form of advertising. A marketer has to buy a particular set of keywords for which his website will be displayed to an audience of choice. Results from proper placements these types of ads can be generated instantaneously!

Online advertising is not limited to search engines alone; it is much broader and includes placing ads on almost any type of websites or page that a prospect is likely to visit. These include websites that carry news, blogs, magazines, entertainment, reviews, market movements, or any other kind of relevant information. Such sites make up the Google Display Network.


Based on their goals, resources available and access of expert assistance, businesses can opt for organic SEO or Paid Google Ads. Of course, a combination of both forms of advertising tends to work well. Google ensures that the rankings of the organic and paid listings are independent of each other even though they appear in response to the same query.

Marketers can avail expert help and guidance for short-listing the right set of keywords for their business and for formulating an effective online marketing strategy for their business.

Get in touch with us today if you are stuck with website that does not generate any revenue for your business

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