When conducting a digital marketing campaign there are two main search avenues a business can action. An SEO campaign or through paid means, known as PPC. Organic SEO is the phrase used to describe processes to obtain a natural placement on search engine results pages. On the other hand, pay-per-click (PPC) is a way of buying visits to your site marketing whereby advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked, rather than attempting to earn those visits organically. Whether it is due to time, finances or other instances, every business has their reasons in choosing one of these methods over the other; however, the effect of each medium differs greatly based upon the consumer’s perception on the chosen method and its results.

A 2006 study by Jansen & Resnick investigates the opinions that consumers have towards both organic (non-sponsored) and paid (sponsored) SEO in the hope of developing a deeper understanding on consumer attitudes and behaviours. The majority of the results in the study indicated that there is a strong preference for non-sponsored links over their sponsored counterparts. Non-sponsored or organic pages were viewed first by searchers more than 82% of the time. These figures were developed by the consumer’s predisposition of relevance with organic links evaluated as more relevant than those that are sponsored or paid via PPC. Extending on these views are results which indicated that over 60% of the sample did not look at sponsored links of features sites that show up on SERPs. When sponsored links were examined, the main reasons were related to the relevance of the links for purchasing a product or perceived relevance to the query. On the contrary, the main reason for not examining sponsored links was lack of trust.


Google SERP examples of PPC and Organic Links

In determining the value and relevance of a result, searchers viewed the title, and if relevant, then looked at the summary for a second evaluation. If the title was not deemed relevant, searchers rarely viewed the summary. For both sponsored and non-sponsored links, the summary of a link was found to have a positive impact on a link’s perceived relevance; however the title was the decisive factor and primary basis for determining that a result was relevant or not.
Consistent with the general understanding of SERPs, the study showed that the lower the rank (i.e., higher on the page) of an organic link, the more likely a searcher will view it and view it as relevant, whilst the lower the rank of a sponsored link, the searcher is less likely to view it. The results of this study support some previous findings that many searchers do not view sponsored links in a positive manner. There was an explicit suspicion about sponsored links which was reflected in the sample’s verbal protocols. Despite identical descriptions of the content, the study showed a lower rated level of relevance for the sponsored links to that of the organic ones. This negative sentiment towards sponsored links is illustrated through their reach, which occupies only about 20 to 25% of the web searcher population. Of that 20 to 25%, the results suggested that in relation to sponsored links, consumers will view more brand-specific queries than general or location related searches, and if the e-commerce query is location specific, the searcher will be less likely to view a sponsored link.

SEO Sydney Organic Listings Vs Pay Per Click

Organic links are often viewed before others

With organic links perceived as more relevant and trustworthy sources, it poses major implications for businesses’ wishing to generate results from PPC campaigns. When constructing a long-term business model, it may be more beneficial for organisations to focus upon organic rather than paid SEO as it is easier to change the method of SEO rather than consumer bias. At SEO Melbourne, we specialise in organic and ethical SEO practices to not only appease consumer opinion, but to also bring out the best results for your business or service by the most legitimate means possible.

Jansen, B.J. and Resnick, M., 2006. An examination of searcher’s perceptions of nonsponsored and sponsored links during ecommerce Web searching. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 57(14), pp.1949-1961.


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