The very first step to being able to optimize your online SEO campaign is to understand that search engines work very differently with paid searches and organic searches. Having a solid understanding of how a search engine actually works is key to understanding how SEO works and how to increase your rankings on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). This is the page that comes up when a person types a search query into a search engine and the first page they see is where you want to be.

SERPs are divided up into two types of results – organic, or natural SEO, and the paid search results. The paid search results are typically to the side of the page and these are ads that the search engine perceives to be relevant to the search query. So how does it all work?

Organic or Natural SEO

All day long, search engines are sending out crawlers, programs called “spiders”, which are searching. When they find a website, they send spiders out to follow all the links in that website that go to other websites and they do this every second of every day. A spider can only follow links that move from one page to another page and one site to another site. This is why inbound links, those that link from an eternal source to your website, are so important. These links give the spiders something to chew on and to follow.

When a spider locates a page, it indexes that page, storing the information on the search engine servers. When a person runs a search on that search engine, they are not searching the internet. Instead, they are searching the servers of the specific search engine they are using, based on the information that the spiders have found and indexed.


The search engine will throw up a list of results, a list that is in order of ranking and provided by the algorithm that the search engine uses. This algorithm is a piece of software that works to calculate the value of a page, using a number of factors. Those factors include the relevance of the page to the actual search query that has been typed in. The algorithm will then determine which pages it needs to display to the searcher.

All of this takes less than one second to achieve. A person can click on a result by the title, the description below the title or the web address shown to determine if that is the site they are looking for. It is worth pointing out that Google does not get paid for organic searches.

Paid Searches

Search engines also show adverts on their pages. Most are shown to the side of the organic searches and a couple will also be shown at the top of the organic search results. These are paid adverts; the search engine has been paid to show the advert but they say they will only show those that are relevant to your search query.

The positioning of each of these adverts is based on bids, that is, how much the advertiser is prepared to pay for one single click on their advert. The more they are prepared to pay, the higher up the page the ad will appear.

Every time an ad is clicked, the advertiser pays the agreed price to the search engine. How popular an advert is also has some bearing on where the ad is ranked. The more clicks on a specific advert, the more likely it is to be placed in a prominent position on the page. Paid searches have absolutely no effect on organic search results for the same company and vice versa, organic search results do not affect paid search results.


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