Every day, all around the world, millions of people use search engines to find content on the Internet. Search engines are Web-based programs that index the Web and allow people to find what they are looking for. “Search,” or “search marketing,” is often used to refer to the industry that has built up around search engines.
Google, Yahoo! and now Bing are all well-known international search engines. Google is by far the leading player in the market. A comScore study of worldwide search engine activity, released in July 2009, showed that Google has just over 67 percent of the global search engine market share.
When we talk “search,” we refer to two different kinds of results: organic search results and paid search results.
Organic Search Results
Organic search results are the primary product of a search engine. These results are the listings generally found on the left-hand side on the search engine results pages (SERPs). They are not influenced by financial payment and are therefore also called natural search results. Organic search results need to be consistently reliable to attract (and keep) users. Google’s growth and success as a search engine can be directly linked to its superior search algorithm, which returns highly relevant organic results.
Paid Search Results
Paid search, also known as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, involves the displaying of sponsored results alongside the organic results. Advertisers bid for placement and pay the search engine when their advertisement is clicked on. Paid search results must be distinguished from organic results, since paid placement introduces bias. PPC advertisements are usually displayed at the top and on the right side of the SERPs. Search engines attract and keep users through organic search, but they make most of their money from paid search.