When you want to learn/ buy something, where is one of the first places you check?
That’s what your audience is doing too. Imagine if they find you, organically!
They might visit your website, and eventually buy from you.
The benefits of organic traffic are far-reaching and can provide a huge boost to your brand and business.
Read on to see how.
What is organic traffic?
Organic traffic is the traffic that ‘naturally’ comes to your website through searches that users conduct on search engines.
When a user searches for information, search engines display web page results that match the search term but have not been paid for. When the user clicks on one of those pages, it is considered organic traffic.
How does organic traffic work?
Search engines usually have a list of criteria for ranking websites and web pages in their SERPs (organic search result pages) for different keywords.
Google, for example, has around 200 criteria, some being more important than others.
Most of them can be summed up into 4 key groups:
- Relevance: How much your web content match what the user is searching for
- Quality: How valuable your content is to the visitor
- Authority: The credibility of your page in the eyes of Google
- User Experience: The experience the website visitor has on your web page
When your website content matches the search query of the user and meets most of the above criteria, i.e., Google considers your content to be one of the best, it ranks you high in its search result pages.
Then users can find your page and click on it.
That’s your organic traffic.
Optimizing your website content for showing up high in these search results is the basic definition of Search Engine Optimization or SEO.
Other sources of website traffic
While organic website traffic is one of the best traffic sources you can have (more on that below), it’s not the only traffic you can have for your site.
Some other types of traffic are:
- Paid Traffic: Traffic that you pay for
- Direct Traffic: Traffic that has no clear point of origin
- Referral Traffic: Traffic from other online sources, like other websites
- Email Traffic: Traffic from your email marketing campaigns
Here is a snapshot from Google Analytics about the different kinds of traffic for my website.
Organic traffic vs paid traffic
Instead of depending on search engines to evaluate your content and rank you high, you can also pay them to display your website content for selected keywords.
It is a kind of advertising. It is also referred to as Search Engine Marketing
Then when users click on those ads and visit your site, it is counted as paid traffic. Because you are paying to have your site show up in search results.
Paid traffic can be of different types:
- Search ads
- Display ads
- Social media ads
- Native ads
See below an example of organic search vs paid search result on Google.
Organic traffic vs direct traffic
Mostly, direct traffic refers to the website traffic you receive on a page when users directly type in the URL of the page in their browser.
However, that is not the only type of direct traffic. Here are some other types of traffic that Google includes in direct traffic:
- Clicking on a saved bookmark on a browser
- Referrals from HTTPS to HTTP websites
- Page redirections
- Offline sources like links in documents
13 benefits of organic traffic
So why should you invest in SEO and work to increase your organic traffic? Why is it better than paid traffic, for example?
Here are 13 benefits of organic traffic to consider:
1. Attracts the relevant and targeted audience
One of the biggest benefits of organic traffic is that it gets you website visitors that really matters.
When your target audience finds your content organically, it means that they were looking for something specific and that your content fit the bill.
This is opposed to them seeing an ad or sponsored post and clicking on it because it looked interesting – only to find out that it’s not actually relevant to what they were looking for.
So other forms of traffic, such as paid advertising or social media, can also be effective but they’re not as targeted.
2. Boosts your brand awareness
Organic traffic can help increase brand awareness for your business.
This is especially helpful if you have a relatively new business. When people find your website organically, and repeatedly, they are more likely to notice your website and visit it.
In the long run, they are more likely to remember your brand when they need something that you offer.
3. Establishes your thought leadership
When your audience searches for some information on a search engine, they could type in different keywords to get the information they want.
If your website shows up in the SERPs for those keywords related to a certain topic, you start being perceived as an expert on that topic.
This is one of the key benefits of organic traffic because ‘expert’ pages and websites get visited and shared more.
4. Improves rankings in search engines
This is a chicken and hen situation.
When you rank high in search engines, you get more website traffic.
On the other hand, if you have a lot of organic traffic, it shows Google that your site is popular, relevant, and of high quality.
This can help you achieve a coveted spot in the search results.
5. Gives you a competitive edge
If your website is optimized to show up organically above other search results, especially of your competitors, then you are considered ‘better’ than them.
In fact, users may ignore web pages that show low, so the higher you are, the better you are than your competition who ranks below.
So the benefits of organic traffic in this case are synonymous to you being more differentiated.
6. Builds trust and credibility
When users search for a certain query on search engines, the organic results are seen as more ‘natural’.
They are not there because search engines thought your page was worthy of being there, of being relevant for the search term. Therefore, they are considered more trustworthy.
Paid traffic, however, does not necessarily build the same trust and credibility since you are essentially paying for clicks.
7. Generates quality leads
Organic traffic can help you generate more leads.
A Hubspot study found that organic traffic with SEO was more effective than social media, paid search, and even email marketing, in attracting leads.
Quality traffic refers to visitors who are more likely to convert into customers or meet other desired outcomes.
Organic traffic tends to be higher quality than paid traffic because it typically comes from users who are actively searching for what you offer.
They’re already looking for information related to your business, so they’re more likely to become customers or clients.
8. Drives sustainable traffic
You can get paid traffic for your website pretty quickly. Of course, you have to do your paid keyword research well and place the right bids.
That is a whole chapter in itself.
Good organic rankings, however, may take time to achieve. Could be up to 6 – 12 months.
But once you get those rankings, it takes less work to maintain those results than it does to maintain paid placements.
So you get traffic repeatedly on your website, even without doing any extra work.
Whereas with paid traffic every time you want to boost traffic, you have to amp up your ad spend.
9. Is cost-effective
As we mentioned before, you don’t pay search engines for organic traffic, so you could consider this source of the traffic to be free*.
You don’t have to pay for it as you do with paid ads. This makes it a more cost-effective solution in the long run, especially if you’re on a tight budget.
You can reinvest that money you save into other areas of your business.
*Note: If you hire a content writer to write blogs or an SEO expert to boost your organic rankings, then technically you are paying to get organic traffic. But as mentioned in the point before, organic traffic really pays off in the long run. Once you get the organic rankings, you can keep getting traffic even without hiring an SEO expert.
10. Is more scalable
The lower cost of organic traffic means that it is much more scalable than paid traffic.
Whereas for paid traffic you have to make an investment every time you run an ad, to get organic traffic you can publish an unlimited number of blog posts yourself, for free which together improve your search rankings.
And enjoy all the benefits of organic traffic. Without paying a dime.
11. Improves click-through rates
CTR or click-through rate is a metric that measures how often people who see your content in SERPs end up clicking on it.
This is how CTR is calculated: Divide the number of people who click on your listing in the SERPs by the total number of people who view your listing.
The CTR of organic listings is 8.5x more than paid listings.
A higher CTR means that more people are visiting your site, which in turn boosts your traffic even further, along with your brand and business.
12. Generates high ROI
ROI is your return on investment.
So how much value do you get back, for the investment you make in a source of traffic.
Let’s say you pay a content writer to write 5 blog posts for you, for a fee of $1000.
This boosts your search engine results, and you get 2 customers, who end up buying from you, giving you $1500 in earnings.
So your profit is $1500-$1000 = $500.
And your ROI is ($500/$1000)*100 = 50%.
This is just an example, of course. A real-life calculation of ROI, especially of traffic, is not so simple. It is quite a detailed calculation that depends on the goals you set.
But in general, organic traffic has shown to have very high ROI, up to +275%, compared to social media traffic, for e.g., which is around -90%.
13. Has high conversion rates
If you’re able to attract relevant organic traffic to your site, there’s a big chance that they will convert into leads or customers.
SEO-driven traffic converts at up to 14.6% vs. just 1.7% for outbound advertising, like social media ads.
Challenges of focusing on organic traffic benefits
So we see that the benefits of organic traffic are far-reaching, helping you boost your brand and business.
However, you should keep in mind 3 key challenges that arise with focusing on organic traffic.
1. Results are long-term
One big drawback of organic traffic is the long time to takes to show results.
So even if small businesses, freelancers, and bloggers believe in the benefits of organic traffic and focus on content marketing and SEO to improve results in the long term, they often have to rely on social media and paid ads in the short term to drive traffic.
2. SEO algorithms are constantly changing
Google and other search engines are always updating their algorithms and ranking criteria because they want to serve the best results to the user searching for information.
So just when you think you have figured out how to get high SERP rankings and your website is doing well, Google may very well roll out an update that changes things a little.
However, it is important to note that as long as you keep your audience at the center of your content marketing and focus on providing them the best value, the search engines will recognize that and still rank you high.
3. Organic traffic is more than just content
It is a given that SEO and content marketing go hand in hand. So to boost organic traffic, you need good content.
But it is not only that. Other aspects of SEO like technical SEO, and on-page SEO, are also necessary to boost organic traffic.
So either you need to learn SEO a little bit and DIY it, or get help from an SEO expert to help you with those other aspects.
How to calculate the benefits of organic traffic
There are different metrics to calculate the benefits of organic traffic.
It really depends on the metrics you want to focus on and what is important for you.
A lot of data can be found in Google Search Console. Some key ones are:
- Total impressions: How many times a user saw your website in the SERP for a certain keyword
- Total clicks: How many times users clicked on your website result
- Average CTR: The average number of clicks compared to the number of times your website showed up
- Average Position: The average position of your website in the SERP
There are many benefits of organic traffic as you can see above, and with serious effort, it is possible to reap all of them.
Here are some points to keep in mind.
1. Be consistent
Work on improving your organic traffic regularly. One or two blog posts randomly would be creating content for the heck of it.
If you want to increase traffic, work with a content calendar and post regularly.
2. Work with metrics
Before you start working on your organic traffic, set your goals and a strategy and calendar to achieve it.
Hire a professional for guidance if you need it initially, to help you set everything up.
3. Pivot when needed
If you see that your website is not showing up high in SERPs and you are not getting the benefits of organic traffic even with a lot of effort, change your strategy and KPIs as needed.
This long-term game of organic traffic is different for every business, so don’t hesitate to evolve as necessary.
What have been the benefits of organic traffic for your website or business? Or has paid traffic worked better? Share in the comments!