The Importance of Direct And Organic Search Traffic
In this article, I am going to explain the importance of organic and direct search traffic. I will place greater emphasis on organic traffic because I have received several requests from a number of our followers to provide basic explaination of what organic search traffic is and why it is importance for the growth of any business in 2019 and beyond.
One of the questions I am being asked more and more is how important is and why is organic traffic important for business growth. I also have many questions about what organic search and organic traffic are. I am also regularly asked to provide tips and best practices for effective organic search traffic strategy implementation. I have already written on Best Practices For Effective Organic Search Strategy. I also recommend you read my other article ‘Local SEO Guide – How To Rank Your Local Business In SERPs‘ for tips on ranking your website high on Search Engine Results (SERPs). In this article, I am going to focus on why organic search traffic is key to an effective digital marketing strategy in 2019 and beyond.
Before I answer the question why organic search traffic is important, I believe it is necessary to define what organic traffic is. And in order to bring even more clarity to the topic, I decided to also define direct traffic and describe the difference between these two sources of traffic to your website. If you have looked at your Google Analytics dashboard, then you should have come across some of the concepts that I am will be referring to in this article. I will be publishing another article soon in which I will provide the meaning of important concepts such as audience, acquisition, bounce rates, session duration, users, page views, etc.
When you build your website, your goal must be to have as many people visiting your website as possible and as many of those visiting your website demonstrating interest in the content of your website and ultimately taking your desired action on your website. You must also want these visitors returning often to your website and taking action on your website. These visitors are referred to as traffic. Traffic comes to your website from a variety of sources. A source is the place on the web where the visitor encountered a link pointing to your website – and they clicked that link and were directed to your site.
Different Types of Traffic Sources
Understanding traffic source is probably the first thing you need to understand in order to define an effective organic search strategy. The two main sources of traffic to your website are paid traffic and unpaid traffic. Unpaid traffic is traffic that originates from unpaid sources. For instance, when Internet users enter specific keywords or search terms in major search engine search tools and click the search button, they are redirected to the search engine results pages (SERPs). The SERPs List two types of results: (a) Paid results are featured at the top of the search results listing; and (b) Unpaid results which are listed below the paid search results.
The paid search results represent paid ads that match the search criteria. When the searcher clicks on the ad, you (if the ad is yours) will be charge a certain amount for each click the ad received. This is called Pay-per-Click (PPC). The search can also click on the unpaid results. Both clicks take take them to the website. The only different is that the paid results costs you many, and they are quite expensive, whereas the unpaid results do not cost you for the click. It is therefore obvious that your best bet should be to get more clicks on the unpaid results. Traffic resulting from the searchers’ clicks on the unpaid search results is called organic traffic.
Paid Search Traffic
Like I already explained above, paid traffic represents the visitors who came to your website after they clicked on your paid ad listing on the search results listings. Paid ads are generally listed at the top of the SERPs listings. Paid Search Advertising focuses on specific target audiences. The targets include both demographics and geographic characteristics of the audience. Paid search is the fastest way to get traffic to your website.
The exact placement of the paid ads in the listings is determined through a bidding process as well as the ad quality score. While paid ads generates traffic almost instantly depending on its quality score and the bidding process, their impact are not sustainable. You would have to continue paying for the ads in order to continue generating traffic. Once you stop paying, the ads will no longer be displayed, therefore, searchers will no longer be able to view and click on them to generate traffic to your website.
It is therefore clear from the above that unless you have a lot of money to waste, paid ads are not your best strategy to generate sustainable traffic in the long run to grow your business. And even if you have a lot of cash to spend, you would be better off investing it in your business in a way that brings a higher return.
Organic Search Traffic
Organic search traffic represents the visitors who come to your website after they found you in (unpaid) search results pages (SERPs) during their searches, and after clicking on your listing on the search results listings. While it is commonly assumed that organic search traffic is free, in reality, it is not. There is a cost to it. Organic search traffic takes time to build. The cost of building organic search traffic is the best investment compared to paid ads traffic because once the results start showing, they are sustainable in the long run.
The cost involved in building organic search traffic includes the cost of acquiring SEO skills, conducting research, monitoring performance, running experimentations, optimizing your on-page and off-page optimization, etc. I will elaborate more on organic traffic below.
Below, I am going to describe and explain other types of unpaid traffic that you will find on your regular Google Analytics Reports. As I describe them, I will continue to draw contrasts and also describe more benefits of organic traffic to stress the importance of organic traffic for your digital marketing strategy.
Generally, direct traffic is defined as traffic resulting from a visitor typing your website address in the address bar of your browser and lands on your website. When someone has your business card, business brochure or flyer, or sees your ad on television or hears about your business on the radio, and then types your web address into the browser address bar, the traffic is considered direct traffic. For a long time, marketers have defined direct traffic in these simple terms.
But in reality, search engines groups all traffic from sources that search engines cannot identify under this category. What distinguishes organic traffic from direct traffic is tracking. So, all traffic for which search engine algorithms cannot determine the corresponding referring sources (or traffic for which search engines cannot determine the corresponding tracking information) is included in the direct traffic category even if it is by nature organic traffic.
So, direct traffic includes traffic referred by search engines or a link from other websites (including social media networks, blog posts, directories, etc.) because search engines cannot track their sources. Organic traffic on the other hand includes traffic for which search engines can track the sources. As you can see, these groupings do not always reflect the reality of traffic sources. If you can determine traffic sources through other methods, you can make adjustments in your reports.
When a user visits a website and clicks on a link on that website that leads them to your website, this traffic is called referral traffic. From our discussion on direct traffic, I wrote that search engines are able to properly categorize the source of traffic coming to your website if they are able to track its origin. If for any reason search engines are not able to recognize or track the origin of your traffic, they will categorize it as “Direct Traffic.” Under referral traffic, search engines group traffic that it can link back to a source because it can track it.
This concept of referral traffic is important because it provides you with statistics to help you measure the effectiveness of your content distribution strategy within the context of analyzing the full benefits of organic traffic. If you are not able to recognize the source of your traffic, you may not know whether to continue investing in the cost of distributing your content in certain sources. This is just one of the limitations of Google Analytics, for instance.
Social traffic is traffic that originates from links included in posts on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. The effectiveness of your Social Media traffic strategy can be negatively impacted by those social networks algorithms updates that can simply remove links or certain types of links from certain types of posts. When that happens, you generally do not have the ability to re-enter your link. Facebook for instance has many rules that many of its users do not understand.
Let me mention here that Social Media offers businesses an unprecedented opportunity to get their messages in front of millions of people on a daily basis. This is a huge opportunity to grow your brand awareness. Clicks and traffic to your website is therefore not the only benefits you get from Social Media. Just because you did not get any clicks and traffic to your website from your Facebook post, for instance, does not mean that it did not accrue any dividend. And you may not be able to accurately quantify the number of pairs of eyes that saw your content. This is why it is important to remain consistent in your activities in Social Media. In this article, I am simply focusing on organic traffic and its impact on business growth.
Many people have also had their Facebook accounts shut down due to certain violations. When that happens, you would lose all the cumulative links pointing to your website. In another article, I will write more in detail on how to maximize your organic traffic from each social media network.
By definition organic social traffic is all traffic resulting from unpaid content posted on social media networks. If you post content as your Page without “Boosting” the post by paying money to promote it, traffic resulting from such post qualifies as organic traffic. If you comment on a post by another business in your feed and you do not see “Sponsored” tag appearing on the post, your comment qualifies as organic.
Other Traffic Sources
Other sources of traffic to your website include email messages containing a link to your website, links on your email marketing, text messages sent from your smart phone to your recipient’s smart phone, and many other that you can imagine.
We have experimented with distributing content using a variety of channels that are not listed in Google Analytics to see how such traffic is reported in Google Analytics reports and we have noticed that all of those sources are not always recognized by search engines. We therefore encourage business owners to develop additional tools to help them capture additional signals that may not be properly captured by search engines. This will help you gain the right insights necessary to take critical decisions.
Strategic Advantages of Organic Search Traffic
Now, I hope that you can read your Google Analytics reports and make more sense out of them. Now, I am going to answer the question, “Why is organic traffic important for my business growth?” It all must start from planning your website. Many small business owners (and even larger businesses) do not have a digital marketing strategy that is aligned with their overall business goals. Also, many business owners have come to me for a website design project. When I ask them what their digital marketing strategy is, more often than not, they don’t have any. Many of them believe that they are too small to need a strategic plan.
Before launch any business, you must define your target audience. Who are your potential customers? What are your needs? How do they interact online? What problems are they facing? Who are your competitors? What are the characteristics of the products and / or services that will meet their needs? What captures their attention? How do they search for the answers to their questions online?
Answering these and many other questions will help you understand who your target customers are and where your desired traffic will come from. Your website must then be optimized to maximize your ability to connect with and draw the right and relevant traffic to your content. This preparatory work includes keyword research, competitive analysis, in addition to other market research activities. Through your research you must seek to know your target customers search intent.
You must then build a website that is fully optimized with your target customers in mind, not just a website built to pass the search engine algorithm test. At OnMax Host Digital, we bring your brand, business goals, and customers’ needs together on your website and then implement effective SEO to position you above your competition. This is key to your business growth. Let’s now examine some of the benefits of organic search traffic that makes it a key part of your digital strategy.
Organic Search Traffic Is Quality Traffic
Research shows that over 70% of traffic generated by search engines comes from organic searches. But, as important as traffic quantity is, the quality of the traffic that comes to your website is what really makes the difference. You need to bring the maximum amount of traffic possible while making sure that the traffic coming is also of high quality. This will result in higher conversion rates.
The best way to ensure the quality of your traffic is by analyzing and understanding your traffic sources as well as understanding your searchers’ search intent. Search intent also referred to as keyword intent, is the ultimate motive or goal of the person doing the search. The keyword or search terms used in the search indicates the “WHAT” and the search intent indicates the “WHY”. Is the user searching with an intent to buy or is he or she simply gathering information? Is the person simply window shopping because they are sleepless and restless at night? When you understand the search intent, you will be able to adjust your content and target those searchers with not too distant buy-intent. By attracting searchers with proven commercial search intent, you ensure to get the highest quality traffic possible, which results in very high conversion rates.
Organic Search Traffic Long Term Value
The primary difference between paid search traffic and organic search traffic is that organic search traffic results take time to show while paid ads traffic results show instantly. But Organic search traffic will continue to yield results over a period of years. Paid ads must be paid for over and over again to maintain their value, thus requiring a significant financial investment. Like I said earlier, organic traffic is not totally free as many suggest because you must invest in the effort to optimize your website over a long period of time. You may have to pay salaries to in-house SEO Expert or hire an outsourced services if you cannot do it yourself. You also have to invest in the efforts to keep up with the rapidly changing digital marketing trends in addition to search engines algorithms. But such investment has long lasting benefits because it will continue to impact your business growth positively for many years to come, after the benefits of paid ads traffic have long stopped the day you stop paying for the ads.
I have written before about the need to invest in acquiring knowledge and understanding of the trends in the digital marketing landscape. You can read more about this by going to Best SEO Practices To Rank In Organic Search Results. Make sure you subscribe to this Blog. You will receive notifications when we publish future articles as I will continue to write more on this topic to give you more knowledge, tips, ideas and all the hacks you need to build a formidable presence online, beat your competition and dominate your niche.
Organic Search Traffic Generates High Loyalty Traffic
Both paid and organic search results are listed on the SERPs with paid ads at the top followed by organic listings. But research consistently show that over 75% percent of searchers click on the organic search results. And you are probably one of those who chooses the organic results over paid ads. The question is, “Do you know why you do that consistently?” I do that too. It’s because you trust that search engines’ algorithms provide the most relevant and most reliable results to your queries in the organic results. Paid ads are viewed as results that were manipulated and configured to satisfy search engine algorithms with less regards for searchers’ needs.
By ranking your website among the top 3-5 results, you have over 75% chance to earn that traffic to your website because your credibility has been proven in the eyes of the searchers. Such traffic is much more likely to convert into customers. Organic search traffic is very important for your business because it builds your brand loyalty in addition to bringing the majority of your traffic.
Organic Search Traffic Is Cost Effective
I have said it several times in this article and I will repeat this again: paid ads are expensive and they do not build long term value though they bring immediate results. You should include them in your digital marketing strategy to generate quick traffic while you are building your organic ranking. Again, organic traffic is low cost compared to paid ads but it is not free. For paid ads, you would have to pay every time searchers click on your listing – this is what Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is – but you pay nothing for clicks on your organic search listing. Organic search traffic yields the highest Return On Investment (ROI) over time.
Other benefits of organic search traffic include driving the improvement of content development, greater SEO capability, increase in real engagement and relationships with your audience, increased brand recognition, and a loyal community. Organic search traffic investment will yield increasingly higher dividends and drive your business growth for many years when done well. The expertise and experience gained through many years of learning, experimenting, research, and analysis will lead to better understanding your audience and tweaking your message to build brand power.
A loyal audience means revenue growth over time. And this leads me to my next point.
Organic Search Traffic Results In Greater Competitive Edge
You can use the knowledge, experience, understanding of the market or niche, customers’ intents and behavior, and knowledge of your competition to generate deep insights. Combined with your constant research and understanding of current and future trends, you can position your business way ahead of your competition, ahead of the curve.
In conclusion, I can say that organic search traffic is a key part of your digital marketing strategy – probably at the heart of it – for your business growth. And it all must start with your website, built with organic search traffic goals in mind. Organic search traffic is what every business must go after, no matter your size (whether you are a one person start up and no matter your budget). This is why we are consistently publishing these articles to help you gain the insight you need to develop a strategy that will help you take your business to the next level.
Regularly analyzing your organic search traffic will help in identifying and correcting weaknesses in your website and digital strategy while also showing what works so that you can do more of it and better. Publishing fresh content regularly and consistently on your website in the form of blog articles with the right keywords will help improve your ranking in SERPs. This will result in increasing your organic search traffic.
You must understand that traffic sources can easily be confusing. They require being constantly on top of things. Continuously analyzing how your visitors interact with your website and what their search intents are will help you know how to position your business for success. Invest in learning traffic attribution and classification accurately in order to be able to formulate and execute the right and workable, effective digital strategy.
As the Internet continues to expand rapidly, search engines algorithms continue change rapidly, and people’s needs continue to change in unpredictable ways, you must engage in research, analysis, and experimenting with various website scenarios to help refine your strategy and unleash tactics that will keep you ahead of your competition and dominate your niche.
I believe that you have now gained a clear understanding of the importance of organic search traffic for your business growth. I am write these articles in an easy language, intentionally avoiding a lot of the popular jargon that seem to mystify these concepts because I want you to be able to apply these strategies and tips in your business even as you read. But, if for any reason you need expert help, feel free to request a free SEO consultation and our consultants will contact you. You can click on the “Call me back” Orange Button on the right side of the screen and our consultants will speak with you. We can help your full comprehensive digital marketing needs from defining your digital marketing strategy and plan, designing and developing your website, implementing your strategy and measuring your performance.
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