Organic listing on Google (or any other search engine) refers to your website showing up in the results for a search for a particular keyword or phrase. The more relevant Google believes your site to be to the word or phrase, and the higher quality Google believes your website to be, the higher you rank in the search results. “Organic” simply denotes that it’s not a paid ad showing up in the results.
Appearing on the first page of Google results for your products or services is the holy grail. Users today almost never go to the second page of search results, unless they’re doing in-depth comparison shopping or research.
Do You Pay for Organic Listings?
“Organic” may mean you didn’t buy an ad, but rarely does a high organic listing come for free. No, you don’t pay Google or any other search engine a cent. But, assuming you have competition –especially competition with older, more established sites than yours—some investments are necessary to climb your way up.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of convincing search engines your website is highly relevant to particular keywords and phrases and of high quality. It’s a very broad field made up of a combination of science, art, and pure conjecture. Typically, businesses must pay for website design and SEO services and devote resources to steadily building up relevant, quality content.
Google’s Prime Directive
Google has one mission: To instantly provide searchers with the exact reliable information they’re looking for. The algorithm used to accomplish this is insanely complex.
But, amidst all the conjecture about it, we know Google continuously strives to value, in its own mechanical way, the same things humans value in a website.
So, Google values things like logical structure, pages obviously relevant to particular topics, and well-written content. And, the search engine has to rely on cues from humans to figure out which sites they appreciate most. So, it also analyzes metrics like how many people click your result listing (click-through rate), inbound links from other reputable sites (backlinks), and visitor retention (bounce) rates.
There’s a lot of minutia associated with SEO, and again, a lot of it is guesswork. Mostly, though, it all comes down to providing a relevant, reliable, user-friendly website.