Search engine optimization, or “SEO,” has been around since the late 1990s as a means of increasing website traffic.
While many techniques have come and gone over the years, organic SEO remains one of the most effective ways to improve your ranking on search engines and generate more leads and sales.
Today we’ll provide a definition of organic SEO, discuss its types and tools, and offer tips for getting started in 2023.
- What Is Organic SEO?
- How Does Organic SEO Work?
- The Benefits of Organic SEO
- Organic SEO Techniques
- How Much Does Organic SEO Cost?
- Organic SEO vs. Paid SEO
- How To Boost Your Organic SEO
- Wrapping Up
What Is Organic SEO?
Organic SEO refers to search engine optimization methods that help you achieve high rankings in the organic search results.
In that sense, it differs from paid search optimization, in which you pay for placements that appear separately from the organic results, as is the case with Google Ads.
However, organic search engine optimization requires hard work and effort.
A solid content marketing strategy, advanced keyword research, and expert knowledge of technical SEO tactics are required to be successful in your organic SEO strategy.
An organic SEO company can help with any type of SEO strategy, whether you need organic SEO for your e-commerce site or local SEO.
Like all types of SEO, local search engine optimization can be paid or organic.
How Does Organic SEO Work?
Search engines use several factors to determine which websites to rank first for any keyword or search engine result.
This is because Google wants its users to get the most relevant answers and content.
Not only that, but it wants its users only to see results from trustworthy sites that provide reliable, updated information.
An organic SEO campaign relies on using SEO best practices, like creating quality content to satisfy Google’s content criteria and provide its users with the most relevant information.
Google will then rank your site above those of others.
To achieve a high organic ranking, you need more than quality content, though.
Link building, getting Google My Business reviews (for local SEO), and quality web design are other components of a successful SEO strategy.
I’ll talk more about the best ranking strategies below, but in any case, once Google considers you an authority in your niche, it will start ranking you higher.
More people will start seeing and visiting your site from the search results.
This process is known as inbound marketing – you let people come to you instead of going to them.
Once you achieve high rankings for high-volume keywords, you’ll start getting a constant stream of free, organic traffic.
Since you won’t be paying for this traffic, unlike traffic you get from a Google ad, you’ll be able to enjoy a higher ROI.
The Benefits of Organic SEO
There are several benefits of incorporating organic SEO into your digital marketing strategy.
Here’s why organic search is so critical.
1. Increased Visibility
If you buy a paid ad, you might show up at the top of the search engine result page if you bid high enough.
However, many people don’t even look at paid ads.
Paid advertising comes with a crucial flaw: Some people don’t trust them or simply pay no attention to them.
People want to see websites that achieved their rankings due to the quality of their content, not because they paid for it.
2. Brand Awareness
Content marketing is crucial for building brand awareness.
People will start regarding you as an authority in your industry if you show up at the top of the organic search results.
Even if they don’t click on your content, you will still benefit from the brand visibility you just got.
3. Increased Value
Search engine optimization comes with increased value.
As opposed to paying for website traffic, you’ll be driving traffic that trusts you more and regards you as an authority.
You’ll be able to build a more loyal customer base.
4. Less Expensive
Finally, organic search engine marketing is less expensive than paid advertising.
PPC (Pay Per Click) ads, for example, charge you for every click you get – and not all of them will convert.
While organic SEO requires some investment in a website, quality content, good graphic design, and so on, it’s a lot less expensive than perpetually paying per click.
Organic SEO Techniques
There are three main categories of organic SEO techniques: White hat, gray hat, and black hat SEO.
Since there’s a lot of confusion about these three strategies, let me explain what they are and go over several techniques in each category.
White Hat SEO
White hat SEO includes entirely legitimate SEO techniques that don’t come with any risk of getting penalized by the search engines.
These techniques play entirely by the book, and they are best if you want long-lasting, solid results that will help you outrank your competitors consistently.
Examples of white hat SEO techniques include:
- Content creation
- Keyword research
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO
- Organic link building
- Citation building
- Mobile optimization
Content creation is the foundation of a good organic SEO strategy, but you also need to use a good SEO tool to find keywords to target.
Write quality blog articles that target high-volume keywords, and include images and videos in your articles.
You also need to optimize the article with on-page SEO.
Include the keyword strategically throughout the article (a few times per article is enough), create a custom meta title and description, include the keyword in the alt text of images, etc.
Off-page SEO refers to uploading a sitemap to Google and Bing for indexing (you can use Google Search Central and Google Search Console to do that and track your indexed pages and traffic).
It also refers to organic link building by submitting guest posts to third-party sites in exchange for links back.
Backlinks are important because they show Google that other sites think your article has valuable information and is authoritative enough to link to.
That’s why the Domain Authority of the site that links to you is significant.
If a high-authority site considers you an authority, Google will take notice.
As a local business, you also need to create citations and profiles on Google My Business, TripAdvisor, and other local directories.
Gray Hat SEO
Gray hat SEO includes techniques that push the limits of what’s permissible according to Google’s guidelines and what’s not.
An example of a gray hat SEO technique is buying a recently-expired domain and using it for your blog instead of buying a fresh domain.
Since the recently-expired domain has been indexed by Google for a while (ideally a few years), Google will consider it more authoritative as long as you restore it quickly.
Website age is one of the factors Google uses to determine authority.
Another example of a gray hat SEO technique might be using a Private Blog Network to create a network of sites that link back to your leading site.
You can try to obscure the connection between the sites in your PBN by using separate hosting providers, but Google can often figure it out.
Using an AI content writing tool to generate human-sounding content is yet another gray hat SEO tactic.
You’re not spinning pre-written content, which would be black hat SEO, but rather generating new content from scratch.
Sometimes, people use the term “gray hat” to refer to an SEO specialist who uses both white hat and black hat SEO for the same website.
Black Hat SEO
Black hat SEO includes techniques that Google explicitly warns against.
These techniques attempt to manipulate the search engines into thinking your site is more authoritative than it is.
A good example is buying links instead of earning them organically.
Some people set up link farms (a network of websites that exist for the sole purpose of linking to other sites) and sell bundles of links to webmasters.
Buying links to make Google think your site is popular could work as a short-term strategy, but it could lead to Google penalizing your site.
Spinning content instead of writing original content is also black hat SEO.
People use spinning tools to avoid having Google detect the content as duplicate.
Keyword stuffing is an old black hat tactic that doesn’t work anymore.
A lesser-known tactic is cloaking, which refers to showing users different content than what is shown to the search engines in an attempt to rank for different keywords.
How Much Does Organic SEO Cost?
The cost of organic SEO varies based on whether you’re outsourcing the work or doing it yourself.
In either case, it’s cheaper than paid advertising.
Costs for Outsourcing Organic SEO
An organic SEO agency might charge anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars a month to do organic optimization for your site.
It depends on your niche, how big your site is, your organic traffic target goals, how much content you want, and more.
You might also outsource only content creation instead of hiring an SEO specialist.
You’ll need to pay a freelancer per article or word, so expect to pay anywhere from $10 to $150 per article, depending on the length of the article and the expertise of the writer.
Costs for Doing Organic SEO Yourself
Even though organic SEO is oftentimes an entry-level digital marketing job, costs for outsourcing this work can get expensive thanks to agency overhead.
As a result, organic SEO by yourself is much cheaper.
You’ll only have to pay for a domain name, which will cost around $10/year, and hosting, which can be as low as $2-10/month, depending on your hosting provider.
You might also need a paid SEO tool, like Ahrefs, to do keyword research.
Its cheapest plan is $99/month, but there are more affordable keyword tools that cost just a few dollars a month.
However, you’ll need to do the keyword research, content creation, and backlink outreach yourself, which can take a lot of time.
Organic SEO vs. Paid SEO
Before we close out, let’s quickly look at the difference between organic and paid SEO and when to choose one over the other.
What Is the Difference Between Organic SEO and Paid SEO?
The main difference between organic SEO and paid SEO is whether you pay for each click/view or not.
With organic SEO, you don’t.
With paid SEO, you do.
Where you show up in the search results is different, as well.
With paid SEO, you’ll show up in an area designated for paid results, and your website snippet will be marked as an ad.
Use Cases for Each Type
Organic SEO is good for building brand awareness, driving targeted traffic, and establishing yourself as an authority.
It takes time for it to work, and it requires a lot of effort and expertise.
However, it’s best if you’re looking for long-lasting results that will cost a lot less in the long run.
Paid SEO can be good for specific campaigns, such as if you’re trying to build an email list, get trial membership signups, get people to take advantage of a flash sale, and increase sales for a specific product or service.
It is also best if you need quick results and you are willing to pay for them.
How To Boost Your Organic SEO
Do you want to boost your organic SEO rankings?
Here are a few steps to take to help you drive more traffic.
1. Check Your Current SERP Ranking
First, figure out how you are ranking for your target keywords.
SERP Robot is an excellent tool for tracking your ranking positions for specific keywords.
If you’re not in the top 3 or at least the top 10, you need to do more work on your SEO strategy.
2. Figure Out Keywords
You might be targeting the wrong keywords.
If a keyword has too much competition, it will be hard to rank for it.
You can’t go against Amazon, CNN, and other mega sites.
Ahrefs and SEMrush both give you difficulty scores for keywords to help you determine how easy it will be to rank.
Other SEO tools might give you different metrics.
In either case, the ranking difficulty score is not the only metric to look for.
You need keywords with at least 50-500 searches a month, depending on how targeted they are.
3. Hire an SEO Copywriter
Many exceptional writers work as freelancers, but not all of them know how to write for search engines and humans at the same time.
Things like how often to use your main target keyword, which LSI keywords to include, and how to insert calls-to-action all make a big difference.
Hire a copywriter trained in SEO.
Both organic and paid SEO have their places.
Using both of them together can help you get quick results now while also ensuring you build a solid foundation for the future.
Over the long run, however, organic SEO will be cheaper and help you scale your business at a lower cost.