As you wade into the world of digital marketing, some of the jargon might be unclear. After all, “organic traffic” does kind of sound like it was grown without pesticides. But in reality, organic traffic is traffic that comes to your site because search engines have decided you’re one of the most relevant websites for a given topic. If your website shows up in the top results of a Google search, for example, you’re highly ranked in that keyword.
Organic traffic is a key part of bringing in new customers. Let’s go through what organic traffic is, how it compares with paid search traffic, and how you can keep your digital marketing strategy lean and effective.
Understanding How Search Engines Rank Web Results
To make sense of organic traffic, you need to understand how search engines decide who will appear highest in their results. Let’s use, as an example search query, “nanny service in Chicago, Illinois.”
Google does uses, bots called web crawlers or spiders, which continuously evaluate the content on the internet. They are used to index, or categorize, the websites that it can “see”. Google evaluates a number of website features, and each one gives a website a higher or lower ranking in any given category or keyword.
For instance, Google doesn’t like a website that says “Chicago nanny placement service” over and over. This is called keyword stuffing, and it makes a site rank lower. On the other hand, if lots of people share a given nanny placement service on social media or write about it on parenting blogs, the website moves up in Google’s rankings. These rankings are classified as organic search. On the flip side, rankings that were paid for are classified as paid search.
But what does this mean for your business?
What is Organic Traffic For Your Business?
You might think that the only traffic you can control are the ads that you purchase and your paid search traffic. However, Google has shared how they determine top rankings, and some of that involves your organic search. These include how usable your website is, what kinds of keyword-focused content you’ve added to the site, and how often other sites link to it.
The nanny placement service we mentioned might opt to buy some ads to generate paid search traffic, but they should also optimize their website so that it ranks higher in organic search.
What Moves Your Organic Traffic Numbers? An Investigation
When you start to target specific keywords on Google and are working toward improving organic traffic, a few major changes will help you. You cannot control what competitors for those same keywords do, but you can boost your own prospects through changes to your site.
While there are many back-end, technical options for improving organic traffic, these four changes will help your rankings for your chosen search topics.
Research Keywords and Narrow Your Options
Most businesses have to balance three factors:
- It’s hard to create a great website that targets dozens of keywords, so you need to narrow your scope.
- You can rarely boost traffic in meaningful ways with only one or two keywords.
- You want to compete for longtail keywords that specify or localize, unless you are a very specific or very large brand.
When we say “long-tail keyword,” we’re referring to keywords that are, more realistically, phrases, usually three or more words. The nanny placement service doesn’t benefit much from ranking highly with the shorter keyword “nanny placement,” since they’re in Chicago.
They also shouldn’t try hard to rank for “placement service,” since there are many kinds of job placements that they don’t do.
Your research should help you find the sweet spot of keywords that are specific enough without being too specific — “nanny placement service on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, specializing in brunettes and twins” won’t get the reach needed to be useful, even if you rank highest for that specific search. Just targeting “Chicago nanny placement service” is a great place to start.
Create a Blog of Useful, Relevant Content for your Target Market
If you only take one thing away from this article, it should be this: adding a blog of useful and relevant content that uses your target keywords has a huge impact on your organic search rankings.
When Google updates their algorithm, they’re attempting to give users the content they really want to find: how-tos, explainers, or data about the products and services they are trying to research. When you have a useful blog, you make your website more valuable to searchers, and therefore to Google.
What can you write about? Think about these options:
- What does your customer service or sales rep always have to explain about your products or services?
- What unusual use-cases has your product helped with?
- Do people struggle to use your product or service to the fullest? Explain to them how.
- Are there connected interests that might bring people to your product or service? Share content about those interests.
Your blog or content resource library helps your customers, but it also gives Google more data about what your website is and where it should be displayed to their search visitors. It’s one of the best ways to rank higher organically.
Strategically Include Relevant Keywords
When you choose your top keywords, including the exact phrasing in places around your website helps Google and other search engines “understand” the topic of your site. Include the keywords in places like:
- Headings and subheadings
- Naturally in the content, not dozens of times for “keyword stuffing”
- Meta descriptions
A digital marketing agency can tell you how many keywords are just right.
Build Backlinks Through Posts and Links on Other Sites
You build “trust” in your website, in Google’s eyes, by being an authority that other websites link to. When Google sees that other sites are willing to link to you, they see you as more authoritative than if you’re a lone website with no links to you. These key links are called “backlinks,” and you can post on other people’s website blogs and get a link or two in there, boosting your relevance. Sending information about your products and services to other companies, such as review websites, can also help get your name out there and increase the chance that they’ll backlink to your website.
Improve Load Speed and Usability Features
If your website is currently clunky – full of big image files that take forever to load – Google ranks you lower. Similarly, if customers cannot use your site well and leave after only a few seconds, your ranking will suffer. By fixing your load times and broken links, you’re improving the user experience and helping Google rank you highly.
Why Invest in SEO for Improved Organic Traffic?
The investment in organic traffic, therefore, is usually in time and in marketing strategy budget. With so many options for digital marketing, what are the main reasons that people find SEO for organic traffic so valuable?
Here are just five of the reasons why organic traffic should be a key part of your digital marketing plan. Organic traffic may be just one part of your strategy, but it’s a big one!
- Your customers trust Google to serve them unbiased and relevant results. Relevant ads are less trustworthy to customers.
- The kinds of efforts that improve organic search ratings, like keywords on your website and making your website easy-to-use and highly functional, make the customer’s online user experience better too.
- Great SEO pays long-term dividends.
- SEO for organic traffic can help build your reputation
- SEO for organic traffic isn’t like cold-calling or cold-emailing people. You’re using keywords that they’re already searching for. Those customers are looking for what you’re offering, and they’re ready to buy.
Ranking highly on SEO takes time, since Google only updates periodically. Once you’re highly ranked, though, Google brings in a steady stream of people who are already looking for your services.
This organic traffic increases your conversion rate from those website visitors. It also gives you fresh insights into what your customers are looking for, since you can often see their search terms through your website’s analytics pages.
Understanding Paid Search Traffic’s Pros and Cons
So organic search traffic is clearly important, but isn’t it so much easier to just buy ads? To some extent, yes, but there are drawbacks. It’s wise to know them before you move forward with a paid-traffic-only strategy.
Paid Search Traffic Pros
- Prime locations in Google results get tons of eyes.
- Can target the keywords you’d use for organic traffic, using the SEO research you’ve already done
- Can decide on spend limits ahead of time, keeping you in budget.
- Can track which keywords are drawing the best prospects and refine your choices for which keywords to target over time.
Paid Search Traffic Cons
- Less trusted by customers because of the “ad” warning attached to paid search results.
- Must keep spending to keep seeing results.
- Competitors can drive up the pricing for these spots.
In the end, most companies agree that you’re better off using a combination of organic search and paid search strategies, since organic search will stay strong even if you have to pause ad spend for a period of time. Like most things, a diversity of approaches pays off over time.
Other Key Sources of Traffic
Organic search traffic, we believe, is a highly valuable resource for your company. However, there are other sources of traffic that you can deliberately seek out. In many cases, a growth in direct, referral, or email traffic will have a positive impact on your organic search traffic.
Direct traffic is when customers type in your website address, no search engine necessary. You can boost direct traffic by featuring your website or a QR code to your website on flyers, in your brick-and-mortar store, or elsewhere.
When other websites reference your site and you get their visitors, you’re seeing referral traffic. You can boost your referral traffic by working with complementary businesses and each write about the other’s business.
A subset of referral traffic is social traffic, where social media shares and page follows lead to visitors to your site.
Email or Newsletter Traffic
When you send out emails to your customers using an email newsletter software, you can track who clicks through the email to your site. This source of traffic is either considered email or newsletter traffic.
The newsletter software creates a unique tracking URL for your emails so that you can see which links and information drew the most viewers from the email. You can also notice which subject lines prompted the most people to open the email.
The analytics help you track the most compelling parts of your newsletters and emails. These forms of traffic are particularly valuable if your company relies strongly on repeat business, since most subscribers have already made a purchase before.
Takeaways About Organic Traffic
When you think about your priorities for digital marketing, remember these three takeaways about organic traffic: free, renewable, and content-driven.
Organic Traffic is Free
Many of the things you do anyway to make a great, optimized website that customers love to use will be the same things that make you rank highly in search engines. While you may pay for components of a digital marketing strategy, you won’t have to pay Google directly.
Organic Traffic is Renewable
Unlike ads, where every view or click has a cost, organic traffic rankings continue to climb after you’ve put in some effort. As more customers mention your product on social media, more business collaborators mention your product, and more people look you up directly, your traffic grows because your popularity is growing.
This kind of recognition builds on itself, becoming a sustainable source of new leads.
Organic Traffic is Content-Driven
Keep in mind that your website’s text content is one of the major sources of information that search engines use to rank you. Once you have a strong, well-optimized website, small tweaks can keep you consistently highly-ranked. Your long-term digital marketing strategy should plan to continue producing new, relevant, helpful content going forward.
Gaining organic search engine traffic is just one piece of the digital marketing puzzle, but it is interwoven with the rest of your strategy. Get help from Redstitch Digital, a leading agency that can help you create a well-prioritized set of marketing goals and achieve them.