Organic Search

Organic Search refers to the search results of a search engine that cannot be influenced by targeted advertising. The results of the organic search are ranked by their relevance to the search term and are also called Search Engine Result Pages (short: SERP).. All results of the organic search are not marked as "Show". Organic search includes search snippets as well as images, news articles, Google Maps results and the Knowledge Graph or the Answer Box.


Organic search comprises all those search results that are produced by the individual algorithm of the search engine. It is determined by the operator of the search engine and can vary from one provider to another. Therefore, the SERPs of Google, Bing or Yahoo are not necessarily the same for a given search term as it isn’t possible to buy a ranking in the SERPs. Thus, organic search is different than paid search in that the position for the paid search is only determined by how much the advertiser is willing to pay for it.


Influencing one’s position in the organic search

One of the foals of search engine optimization is to influence the ranking of a website in the SERPs of search engines. However, this requires a lot of patience and work. According to a study by the blog, cost per project can range between 1000 to 7500 US dollars per website. SEO agencies charge 76 to 200 US dollars per hour.[1] However, the effort is worthwhile in many cases. Google Analytics expert Avinash Kaushik once determined that around 86 percent of search engine users prefer organic search results.[2] With a top ranking in the SERPs, website operators can therefore achieve significantly more traffic than paid ads.

If one were to attempt to obtain the same number of hits with the paid search, the costs would be many times higher than for optimization of the organic search. The cost per click for search engine optimization is generally much lower than for paid ads.

Ranking factors

There are a variety of factors that can influence the ranking. These include for example:

  • Internal and external link structure
  • Backlink structure
  • Technical factors (such as length of URLs, load times)
  • Quality and structure of content
  • Enhancement through media such as videos and images
  • mobile optimization
  • https-encryption

All available methods for optimization of rankings in organic search can be roughly divided into two areas: On-page optimization and Off-page optimization. On-page optimization revolves around adjustments that can be made to your website. This may affect the content, internal link structure, navigation or the loading speed. As part of off-page optimization you optimize outside of your website, for example, through targeted link building or activities in social media channels. The most important ranking factors are clarified in the following webinar published on YouTube.

Importance for search engine optimization

Organic search is at the heart of any effort in the field of search engine optimization. Achieving this goal is becoming increasingly difficult in the face of strong competition. Moreover, Google changes its own algorithms regularly, so that search engine optimizers must respond extremely fast in order to retain rankings that were previously achieved in the organic search. Sometimes it is even necessary to reverse earlier SEO measures to avoid penalties. An example for this is the so-called “link removal” which was prevalent in the period right after the Google Penguin update in April 2012. Many webmasters then had to submit reconsideration requests to have the punishment lifted.

Due to the increased enrichment of organic search results with images, the Knowledge Graph and the orientation of the search query, it is also more difficult for webmasters to achieve top results in the SERPs. At the same time, the distribution of paid search ads varies greatly, for example in Google. Thus it can happen that the first four hits already consist of text ads or shopping ads. This means that even well-listed websites slide even deeper in the results lists and thus lose even more attention from users.

There are marketing approaches that criticize a too strong fixation on organic search, especially in the e-commerce sector. This criticism refers mainly to the increased concentration on and thus the strong dependence on Google as the leading search engine. In some cases, it has become clear that there are other alternatives to Google for selling or promoting products online. For example, the shopping portals Amazon or Ebay also play an important role for retailers, as many consumers search for products directly on these portals and do not use Google at all.


  1. Cost for SEO. Accessed on 12/13/2013
  2. AdWords vs. SEO. Accessed on 12/13/2013

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