The Difference Between Paid Search and SEO

June 13, 2018 Phillip Long

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You pay for one and you don’t for the other. Simple as that, right?

In my experience, most insurance agents don’t have a firm grasp on the difference between search engine optimization and paid search. Not to mention how they work or why they should use one instead of the other.

I believe in educating agents and then letting them make a decision that is best for their agency. So let’s go to school. What’s the difference?

Paid Search

Paid search is a type of online advertising where, instead of paying a set price for an ad, you pay for each click. If no one clicks on your agency’s ad, then you don’t pay for it. When most people talk about paid search, they are referring to Google Ad Words or Facebook Ads. Those are the two most common paid search platforms today.

Search Engine Optimization

SEO, often referred to as organic search, can be free. You don’t pay for clicks. You earn them. You follow guidelines set by Google and tactics other SEO professionals determine have worked. You can use these guidelines and tactics to earn traffic to your website. Content and backlinks are two primary factors for why your website would, or would not, rank in Google.

Why Go Paid?

If you are looking for a quick influx of traffic or leads, paid search could be a good solution for you.

There is still some work to do to determine how successful you are. For example, you’ll need to create a high converting landing page. But, you can get a bump in traffic to your website pretty easily.

One tactic I like is to target niche keywords, like contractors insurance, as the demand is lower. You will have lower volume from these. But, the cost will be lower and the conversions tend to be a little higher.

Why Go SEO?

If you want to make an investment into your agency and look toward the future, then SEO is right up your alley. SEO is not a quick fix. It’s designed to work slowly over time if you do it the right way.

But, you do have to dedicate some time to SEO. You can’t set it and forget it. If you want to gain visibility across the web and keep it, you have to stay dedicated.

With SEO, it’s best to start with a small, specific target. Then, you should broaden your efforts only after seeing the results you were looking for.

Why Combining the Two are Best

My preference? Combine paid search and SEO. When you decide to digitally market your agency, fire up an AdWords campaign on Google. Get some traffic coming to your insurance website. Start SEO at the same time, and over several months, you will see your organic traffic start to rise.

Then, you can start scaling back on your paid search spending. Or, divvy up those funds to more niche targets. Over time, your paid search budget can be reduced. You can devote those resources to organic SEO techniques.

At the end of the day, your digital marketing efforts will give you as much as you put into it.

About the Author

Phillip Long

Phillip Long serves as the primary contact point for all of ITC's search engine optimization clients. As the internet marketing product manager, he coaches and guides insurance agents throughout the SEO program, ensuring they progress smoothly. Phillip's specialties include conceptualizing marketing campaigns, SEO, and customer service. He has a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Texas at Arlington with a focus in management and communication.

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