For a long time, digital marketers summed up the properties of direct and organic search pretty simply. To most, organic traffic consists of visits from search engines. While direct traffic is made up of visits from people entering your company URL into their browser.
However, this explanation is too simplified. Leaving most digital marketers short-handed when it comes to completely understanding and gaining insights from web traffic. Especially, organic and direct sources.
Beyond organic search and direct traffic, you must understand the difference between all of your traffic sources and how traffic is classified.
Bearing in mind, most web analytics platforms, like Google Analytics, utilize an algorithm and flow-chart. Based on the referring website or URL parameters that determine the source of traffic.
Here is a breakdown of all sources;
- Direct: Any traffic where the referrer or source is unknown
- Email: Traffic from email marketing that has been properly tagged with an email parameter
- Organic: Traffic from search engine results that are earned, not paid
- Paid search: Traffic from search engine results that is the result of paid advertising via Google AdWords or another paid search platform
- Referral: Traffic that occurs when a user finds you through a site other than a major search engine
- Social: Traffic from a social network, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram
- Other: If traffic does not fit into another source or has been tagged as “Other” via a URL parameter, it will be bucketed into “Other” traffic
What is Organic Search?
Organic Search, also known as natural search, refers to unpaid search results. In contrast to paid search results (Pay Per Click Advertising), which are populated through an auction system. Organic search results are based on relevance to the user’s search query, links and domain authority and other organic ranking factors.
Primarily, organic traffic is the channel that Inbound Marketing strives to increase. This traffic is defined as visitors coming from a search engine, such as Google or Bing. Not forgetting, this does not include paid search ads. But that doesn’t mean organic traffic isn’t impacted by paid search or display advertising, either positively or negatively.
In general, people trust search engines, and sayings such as “just Google it” reinforce that humans are tied to the search engine. Thus, paid search, display, or even offline campaigns can drive searches, which may increase organic traffic while those campaigns are running.
That said, we also know that organic search traffic as a whole has been negatively impacted by the layout changes Google made to search results in recent years. Presumably, which caused some websites such as Wayfair to see 25 percent of clicks on desktop and 55 percent on mobile be lost to paid search results.
What is Organic Traffic?
Organic Traffic is the term used to describe visits to a website coming from a search engine’s organic results and not paid ads.
When users type a query in a search engine (such as Google or Bing), they are presented with a set of results. That includes both the pages ranking on the top positions organically. And a set of ads (usually denoted with the word Ad) to differentiate them from the organic results.
When a user clicks on any of the organic results and visits a website this is recorded in analytics tools as organic search traffic. Therefore, the main difference between organic traffic and paid search traffic is that organic traffic is free while paid traffic is paid for.
Eventually, there are two ways to get traffic from search engines. The first way is to rank your website high in the search results using SEO. And the second way is to use Google Ads to place your ads on top of the organic results with advertising.
How did Organic Search Began?
Basically, Google, Yahoo!, and Bing search engines insert advertising on their search results pages. The ads are designed to look similar to the search results. Though different enough for readers to distinguish between ads and actual results.
This is done with various differences in background, text, link colors, and/or placement on the page. As of 2004, however, the appearance of ads on all major search engines is so similar to genuine search results. That even a majority of search engine users cannot effectively distinguish between the two.
Because so few ordinary users (38% according to Pew Research Center) realized that many of the highest placed “results” on search engine results pages (SERP) were ads. With this in mind, the search engine optimization industry began to distinguish between ads and natural results.
The perspective among general users was that all results were, in fact, “results.” So the qualifier “organic” was invented to distinguish non-ad search results from ads.
What are the Benefits of Organic Search?
Of course, Yes! Organic Search is the most important form of traffic you can get to your website. It is more important than paid traffic, Facebook traffic or traffic from other social media networks. And the main reason is simple; Organic traffic is targeted.
Users typing a query in a Search Engine have a very specific intent. And if you can provide them with a solution or answer to their question, you will more likely gain a new customer, email subscriber or follower.
In addition, organic search or traffic is important because it increases website trust and this has a number of additional benefits. Just because users trust Google, websites that rank in the top positions of Google organically are as well trusted by users.
This means that it’s more likely to convert an organic visitor than a visitor coming from Facebook or other mediums. What’s more, for many companies, SEO is either a magic formula or a magic bullet. Below are more additional benefits;
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Although they hope that a short-term focus on SEO will solve all of their companies’ web challenges, the processes for performing SEO are shrouded in mystery. In truth, SEO is part of a larger online strategy to improve search traffic and maximize the use of your web content.
Simply, because we recognize that Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising has its place. But we also strongly believe that organic (i.e. unpaid) search traffic has more value. Than even traffic that is generated through paid click ads. Here’s why:
The most obvious benefit of organic search traffic is a cost advantage. Pay-per-click ads are guaranteed to put your company’s links in front of potential site visitors. But over time, the amount of cash you’ll spend on click-throughs can add up.
Once you have implemented sound SEO principles, the cost-per-click for organic search traffic is zero. Giving your company an edge over competitors who are trapped in a pay-per-click universe.
One of the reasons why jmexclusives advocate for organic site traffic is credibility. At this stage of the game, most Internet users already know the score. And companies that take an exclusively paid approach to site traffic are often behind the market in presence and credibility.
By targeting organic traffic, our web design and online marketing team solidify your firm’s online presence and reputation.
Equally important, here’s something else to consider! When pursued aggressively, organic search traffic can effectively block your competitors’ online presence.
The more effort you invest in improving organic search traffic, the higher your site appears in search rankings. Helping you push your competitors further down the list.
Important to realize, that the internet users are non-homogenous. Some prefer to access sites through search engines; others routinely click paid ads.
And that makes it important for business sites to take a combined approach. Particularly, that integrates both organic search traffic and paid advertising into a coherent online strategy.
With SEO you can get traffic for free 24/7 but it’s not instant. It takes time for SEO to work and generate results. On the other hand, with PPC advertising you can get faster results but you will have to pay each time someone clicks on your ads and visits your website.
Another difference between organic and paid traffic (also referred to as SEM), is that once you stop the paid ads, the traffic to your website will drop. While with organic traffic you get traffic as long as you have high rankings.
Keep in mind, the process of marketing your website on search engines either organically or through paid ads is called Search Engine Marketing.
2. Organic Search Traffic is Targeted
Organic traffic is the most important form of traffic you can get to your website. It is more important than paid traffic, Facebook traffic or traffic from other social media networks.
Users typing a query in a search engine have a very specific intent. And if you can provide them with a solution or answer to their question, you will more likely gain a new customer, email subscriber or follower.
In addition to the above, organic traffic is important because it increases website trust and this has a number of additional benefits.
Users trust Google and websites that rank in the top positions of Google organically are trusted by users. This means that is more likely to convert an organic visitor than a visitor coming from Facebook or other mediums.
3. It brings in Highly-qualified Prospects
By all means, it’s good to have strength in numbers when it comes to traffic. But just as important are the things that can’t be quantified. And here, I’m talking about the quality of that traffic.
Not to mention, you want the kind of visitors that will convert into customers, right? Of course, you do! How do you determine the quality of a visitor? Search intent. Anyone who types in a search query has a specific intent. And they’re expecting the content that they find in the SERPs to satisfy that intent.
If you can understand the search intent of your prospective customers, it will transform your marketing in several ways. As an example, you’ll be able to predict what keywords your potential customers are likely to use.
Here are the four keyword types to include;
- Informational keywords are used when searchers are on the hunt for information. They want solutions to problems, answers to their questions, and insight into a particular topic.
- Navigational keywords are used when someone is looking for a particular website. If they type in your site, product, or brand, that’s a navigational search.
- Transactional keywords are used when someone is ready to convert. Conversion doesn’t necessarily mean buying a product. It can mean creating an account, downloading an ebook, signing up for a free consultation, etc.
- Commercial keywords indicate purchase intent. If someone uses this type of keyword, it’s highly likely that they’re buy-ready.
It’s easy to start targeting keywords with no structure or strategy. But that’s a mistake. When your prospects are searching for information, they’re likely using one if not all the four keyword types showcased above.
4. Organic Search Traffic is Evergreen
First of all, Do you want to know the unfortunate thing about Pay Per Click (PPC)? It requires constant investment, maintenance, and manipulation. Surely, you’ll get quick results but it will be short-lived.
And the moment you stop pumping cash into paid traffic, you lose all momentum. Organic traffic, on the other hand, is evergreen. That means it takes time, but the results are long-lasting. Once you establish search engine visibility, it will serve your business for years after it’s implemented.
That’s not to say that there isn’t any maintenance involved in an organic traffic strategy. The SEO landscape is everchanging and you can’t just “set and forget” your traffic system. Keeping in mind, the algorithms and ranking factors evolve. So, you have to keep on top of these changes to maximize your results.
With all that said, an organic traffic strategy is as close as you’ll get to a traffic system on autopilot. And just another reason why organic traffic is important.
What are the Downsides of Paid Traffic?
As can be seen, the term ‘Organic‘ was first used by Internet theorist John Kilroy in a 2004 article on paid search marketing.
And because the distinction is important (and because the word “organic” has many metaphorical uses) the term is now on a great widespread. Whereby, it’s used within the search engine optimization and web marketing industry.
As of July 2009, the term “organic search” is now commonly used outside the specialist web marketing industry. Even used frequently by Google (throughout the Google Analytics site, for instance). Google claims their search users click (organic) search results more often than ads, essentially rebutting the research cited above.
Paid traffic campaigns are expensive
Check out the average CPC for some top industries. These are the costs of one click. Mind you, that’s a click that is not guaranteed to convert a customer.
With paid campaigns, you have to keep optimizing and testing the ad creative to lower your CPC and increase your CTR.
You can imagine that it takes a massive budget to even set a paid campaign in motion. And it requires just as much to keep maintaining it.
User bias against Ads
A 2012 Google study found that 81% of ad impressions and 66% of ad clicks happen when there is no associated organic search result on the first page. Equally too, research has shown that searchers may have a bias against ads. Not unless the ads are relevant to the searcher’s need or intent.
The same report and others going back to 1997 by Pew show that users avoid clicking “results” they know to be some kind of Ads.
First page on Search Results
A claim often cited by the search engine optimization (SEO) industry to justify optimizing websites for organic search.
Ad-block Browser Plugins
Organic SEO describes the use of certain strategies or tools to elevate a website’s content in the “free” search results.
How is Organic Search Traffic increased?
One of the ways to monitor your organic traffic levels is through Google Analytics. Login to Google Analytics and navigate to ACQUISITION > ALL TRAFFIC > CHANNELS.
Look at the ORGANIC SEARCH group in the report. This shows how many visits you received from organic traffic i.e. from search engines organic results.
Another way to view how many organic visits you received from Google and for which keywords, is to use the Google Search Console.
Login to Google Search Console and go to PERFORMANCE > SEARCH RESULTS.
The QUERIES tab shows you for which keywords your website showed up in Google organic results (Impressions) and how many visits you received (clicks).
The best way to increase organic traffic and get more visits from search engines is to follow proven white hat SEO best practices.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and it is the process to follow to optimize your website so that it can rank higher in the search engine result pages (SERPS). There are more than 255 Google ranking factors but the most important are:
1. Publish content that users want to read
One of the characteristics of users using a search engine to look for information is that they have a very specific intent. And your job is to satisfy their intent by providing them with the right kind of information.
In order for a page to have any chances of ranking organically in search engines, it has to target a specific keyword or topic. Pages targeting several keywords or no keywords at all are very unlikely to receive any organic traffic.
2. Include relevant keywords/search terms in your page title
The page title is one of the most critical SEO factors. The title is used by search engines to get an idea of what a page is all about and it is also shown in the search results.
A good page title includes search terms users can recognize and is interesting to encourage users to click on it and visit your website. You can read this guide on How to create SEO Friendly Titles for more information on how to SEO optimize your page titles.
By the same token, get links from other websites (backlinks). In short, get backlinks from other relevant websites (that don’t carry the nofollow attribute). Since they act as ‘votes of trust’ and this improves the organic rankings of a website.
In the SEO world, this is known as off-page SEO.
3. Research on your Keywords awareness outreach
Generally, here’s the thing about awareness. Whereby, informational needs change as awareness progresses. In that case, you’ll want your prospects to be highly aware.
If you’re on a bare-bones budget, you can be resourceful and achieve that with one piece of content. And as an Action step, start by creating a spreadsheet and brainstorm your keywords for each of these categories.
Here are some tips for fleshing out your spreadsheet:
- Informational Keywords usually begin with a verb or a question. For example, “how-to,” “why,” “grow,” “increase,” etc.
- Navigational Keywords include a specific brand or product name. Searchers at this point may be looking for testimonials, reviews, features, benefits, etc.
- Transactional Keywords are closely tied with conversions. Think about what your customers would be searching for right before they convert.
- Commercial/Transactional Keywords overlap. Words like “buy,” “price,” and “coupon” will be included in commercial queries.
These types of keywords each tell you something different about the user.
For example, someone using an informational keyword is not in the same stage of awareness as someone employing a navigational keyword.
4. Create an AMP Ready & Responsive website
Website usability is both a direct and an indirect SEO factor. You need to develop websites that load fast, are mobile-friendly and free of technical SEO errors.
Failure to do so will minimize your chances of getting organic traffic from any search engines.
For more information on how to create SEO friendly websites that can potentially rank high in search engines, read the following guides.
Best preferred guidelines;
Organic SEO refers to the method that all the procedures for search engine optimization are followed by the proper method of taking a position on the search result.
5. Utilize your Custom Specific Social Media Channels
I’ll explain why, but let me say this first. Organic traffic is not that free as many SEO Marketers would think. Obviously, because it takes time and money.
But, the difference is, it’s still cheaper than PPC and will give you a higher ROI in the long term. For one, the assets that you develop for an organic strategy appreciate. Think about all the tasks that you might invest in to drive more organic traffic.
- Content creation
- Social media marketing
- Brand building
All your content, social media, brand, and other online assets that you develop in that process are there to stay.
And they keep going up in value as time goes by. Even if you stopped investing in organic search, these assets would still be working for your business. You’d get traffic because you’ve built an ecosystem that fuels itself.
Now imagine that you’re generating traffic and you’re paying little to no money for it.
Your cost per organic visitor will decrease by many factors as your return increases. Bear in mind that this is a cumulative effect that happens over time. Still, it’s a fantastic position to be in.
6. Plug the holes in your Marketing Strategy
Your web visitors aren’t homogeneous. This means that everyone accesses your site by taking a different path. You may not even be able to track that first point of contact for every visitor. Maybe they first heard of you offline. But in most cases, you can track that first touch-point.
The benefit? You can meet your potential customers exactly where they are. You can also make sure that you’re not bleeding revenue due to friction somewhere along that path. How does that work? When you focus on organic search traffic, you’re compelled to take the battle to multiple marketing fronts.
While SEO outperforms all other channels regarding ROI, it doesn’t always work in isolation. Email marketing, content marketing, social media, and other channels can all serve your SEO strategy. I’ll tell you something about marketers who are truly worth their stuff.
They always build contingencies in their marketing funnels based on;
- Who their customers are
- Where these customers are coming into contact with their business
- Past behavior of their customers
For example, you may repurpose your blog content into a different form to satisfy the needs of your social media audience. You may decide to put more resources into email marketing as a traffic driver.
In addition, you may tighten up your brand story because you want your messaging to be more congruent across all customer touchpoints. All these marketing tasks are tied to organic traffic. And they all have a substantial impact on your bottom line.
7. Think about your Audience Insights
Where do you first turn to when you have a problem or when you’re curious about a topic? Google, right? It’s a no-brainer. Search engines are the ideal matchmakers between you and potential customers. In fact, 93% of all online interactions begin with a search engine.
To leave these prospects in the dust is to leave revenue on the table. But here’s where search engines and organic traffic give you a real marketing edge. Therefore, with Audience Insight, the better you know your customers’ pain points, the more tailored your offers will be.
Additionally, the more you’re connected with how they feel, the more succinct and impactful your messaging will be. I can’t think of one aspect of marketing that isn’t strengthened by that depth of audience research.
What does organic traffic have to do with it?
When you dissect your traffic, here’s what happens.
- First, you get a microscopic view into what problems your customers have and the language that they use to communicate it,
- Secondly, you get to know what they believe based on how they respond to your content,
- Lastly, you understand what persuasive switches to pull based on the call to actions that they respond to.
These are just a few ideas, but you get how valuable these insights can be.
Above all, Traffic is the lifeblood of any online business. But, getting these coveted eyes on your website is not always easy. The good news is, you have several options to drive traffic, each with their own benefits.
And you can either use paid channels or organic search. But, Which one wins in a fight? In fact, if I were a betting man, I’d put my money of organic search traffic. As exciting as it is to see a quick surge in traffic from an effective PPC campaign, I’d take sustainability over a short-lived win any day. And that’s just the surface.
Luckily, I’ve gone over several of the benefits that organic search traffic can have on your business. I’m talking about the kind of results that correlate with cold hard ROI. However, to be more productive, use the insights, implement the action steps, and stay competitive.
Finally, What has organic search traffic done for your business? Would you need more support or help from our marketing team? Please, Contact Us and let’s know how we can help your business grow through organic search traffic.