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What is Organic Search Engine Optimization?

Organic SEO is the process of modifying a web site for the purpose of ranking high in non-paid search engine result pages (SERP's).

The term "organic" (or "natural") refers to the unpaid listings on the SERP's after a search query is submitted. This section of results is generated by the search engine's relevancy algorithm instead of placement by ad programs. In Google, one or two ad listings may appear at the very top over a light blue background with the term "Sponsored Links" to the right. These are paid for by companies that wish to advertise in the Google SERP's depending on the keywords used by the searcher. More sponsored links may appear along the right-hand side of the page: these are populated by the AdWords program. Other search engines have similar layouts.

Organic search engine optimization is usually referred to by SEO companies to distinguish between the natural and paid results. When hiring an SEO firm, it is important to know how they obtain rankings for their clients. Some unethical firms have been known to fool clients by promising top rankings only to show cheap ad placements on the first page.

An extremely high percentage of search engine users click on the organic results instead of paid ad listings, making organic search engine optimization much more affordable over the long run. An organic search engine optimization campaign can result in a return on investment that continues to grow over time. Depending on the competition, your SEO campaign could slow down or stop once you obtain top rankings, at which point you would not be paying ongoing fees for the traffic you receive. Alternatively, through pay-per-click advertising on the search engines, you pay each time a user clicks on your ad and visits your web site.