Paid and Free Search

When you look at the results of a Google search, all of the ads on the right side are paid; the advertisers will pay Google if you click on the ad. The top one or two listings on the left might be paid also. The listings below them are free; the site owners are having their sites listed for free on those search engine results. How can you get your site listed in either area? What’s a good approach to use?

Free Search

If you don’t do anything to your site, it will likely be found by Google and listed somewhere in search results. However, that first page of search results for any phrase is pretty competitive, so you’re likely to need either help or an education campaign for yourself to get there. Those visitors come to your site free of charge! Essentially, to get high rankings in free search you want your site to be authoritative. Getting good search engine position in free search is a long-term process, as you gradually build site credibility over time. What you don’t want to do is to try to fool the search engines, since you’re likely to get caught and seriously penalized.

Paid Search

On the Google home page, you can find links to AdWords. You can establish an account, write your ads, and as soon as Google accepts your payment, your ads will appear and visitors will begin to arrive. As you set up your program, you’ll see that it’s a complex affair. The best approach is to start small, with just $50 or $100 a month, as you learn how to make AdWords work for you. Again, it’s a very competitive business arena, where professionals get the best results. But if you’re interested and work at it, you can become expert; I have several clients who manage their own AdWords campaigns.

The Bottom Line

A combination of pay per click and free search engine campaigns provides traffic right away from the paid campaign, while the free campaign builds. Gradually, the free campaign can provide an increasing amount of traffic. If you’re reasonably technical it is feasible for you to do both yourself, but you might decide to put that time into your own business, and let a specialist (like me, for instance!) do these tasks.

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