Organic search results are the results that a search engine returns based on its algorithm and are free or non-paid. Organic listings are typically underneath the paid listings in the SERPs (see example below in red).
A search engine (like Google) uses its algorithm to decide which listings to put at the top of these results based on hundreds of factors. However, the fundamental things to get right in order to be listed at the top of Google include the relevancy of information on your website in relation to the search query and the currency of the website.
The benefits of being at the top of the Organic listings is that your business is perceived as a more trusted and credible source, that hasn't had to pay to be there. Another great feature about high ranking organic listings is that they tend to be a highly cost effective long term option whereby you do not have to pay each time clicks on your listing.
Studies also show that organic search results also have higher click through rates. This is why SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) has become a must have for any business who wants their business to appear in these top, free listings.
Paid listings are the results that a search engine returns as part of a business' paid advertising campaign/s. These results are typically at the very top of a SERP and can be quite difficult to distinguish compared to organic listings. The only real difference is the little yellow rectangle that reads 'Ad' beside the business URL (see example below in orange).
Paid listings get positioned on a few key factors, including relevancy, quality score and ad spend. While search engines like Google appear to generate a level playing field when it comes to AdWords campaigns, most certainly ad spend will win out 9 times out of 10. Paid listings can also make a business appear less credible, as they have to pay for their placement rather than earn it.
While paid listings can be a good way to generate an increase of traffic to your website, the costs can add up VERY quickly and the people clicking on these listings are typically less relevant than those clicking the organic listings. We would recommend paid advertising campaigns only for the short term and to invest more budget into a more long term, strategy such as SEO.