If you run any sort of website, you probably think about traffic a lot. Every time you publish a piece of new content or refine a page, you probably check to see how many new visitors come to your site. You may even border on checking your traffic obsessively.
Even though we think about it all the time, we usually take a “sit back and wait” approach to traffic. After all, you can’t force anyone to visit your website. But it’s not as simple as “if you build it, they will come.” And you need more traffic, and greater search engine visibility, if you want to get anywhere with your website and your business.
You can’t scale a business without a healthy flow of website visitors. If you aren’t pulling in consistent traffic, you won’t have any leads. And, without those leads, you won’t earn any new customers from your website. So, how do you go about getting more visitors to your website? Organic search is the golden ticket.
- What is organic traffic?
- 1. Organic search traffic brings in highly qualified prospects
- 2. Organic search traffic is a sustainable approach
- 3. Organic search is cost-effective in the long run
- 4. Organic search traffic gives you a competitive edge
- 5. You get to plug the holes in your marketing strategy
- 6. Organic traffic gives you a share of the greatest marketing asset
- 7. Organic traffic brings in regular and more engaged visitors
- 8. Organic traffic gives you higher credibility
- 9. Organic traffic is an excellent method of brand building
- How to Calculate ROI from Organic Search Traffic
- Closing thoughts
What is organic traffic?
Organic traffic is traffic that comes to your website when someone types in a query in Google and clicks on your organic listing in the search results.
You know how important search engines are. You use them every day. Your twelve year old niece and your sixty year old uncle use them every day, too. Search engines connect us with the information we need. I can’t imagine living without them, and you’re probably in the same boat.
Keeping in mind how much you use search engines, is organic search as big of a deal as marketers make it out to be? In short, yes.
Anytime someone types in a search query and lands on your website from the search engine results pages (SERPs), you’re receiving organic search traffic. Most searchers never go past the first or second page of Google, though, which is why those top spots in the search results are so coveted. Earning and holding down one of the top spots in the SERPs for your keywords is like opening a business on a busy street– potential customers are almost guaranteed to come knocking at your door.
But search ranking is competitive, so naturally, it’s not easy to claim that top spot in organic search. That’s why many marketers and website owners pay to play, and why so many people choose the Pay Per Click (PPC) route. It’s fast. It’s effective. It’s high-visibility for your business. The caveat? You stop paying, and your visibility goes **POOF**.
And that’s why I’m a big champion of organic search traffic– because It has staying power. In this article, I’ll talk about the irreplaceable value of that staying power, and I’ll cover some other benefits of organic search, as well. Without further ado, let’s jump right in!
1. Organic search traffic brings in highly qualified prospects
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. I’m talking about the quality of that traffic. 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. You’ll be able to predict what keywords your potential customers are likely to use. 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 of four keyword types.
- 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.
Action step: Create 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, e.g., “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 and 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. Here’s the thing about awareness. Informational needs change as awareness progresses. You 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.
I’ll explain. Let’s say that most of your organic search traffic comes from informational keywords. These are valuable keywords, but they indicate low awareness and low purchase intent. You can create a super thorough, long-form piece of content that targets your information keywords. The secret?
- Your content should completely match the searcher’s intent.
- Your content should shift the awareness of the reader.
Ultimate guides are excellent for this purpose. Most marketers don’t think of their content in that way. Put this tip to work, and you’ll have a massive edge. There are secondary benefits to understanding search intent.
- You can deliver a more relevant content experience to influence a prospect’s purchase decision
- You can shorten the sales cycle by offering precisely what prospects want at the right time
- You can facilitate a conversion quicker by fast tracking the transition from low awareness to high awareness with your content.
So what’s all this talk about awareness? Why does it matter? The quicker visitors perceive your offer as the superior solution to their problems, the quicker the conversion happens. That’s why it’s super important to pay attention to your buyer’s journey. Dissecting your organic search traffic is what will give you these insights.
2. Organic search traffic is a sustainable approach
Want to know the unfortunate thing about PPC? It requires constant investment, maintenance, and manipulation. Sure, you’ll get quick results. But it will be short-lived. 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 ever changing. You can’t just “set and forget” your traffic system. The algorithms and ranking factors evolve. 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.
3. Organic search is cost-effective in the long run
Here’s the scenario. 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.
On the other hand, an organic strategy is high-impact and low-cost. I’ll explain why, but let me say this first. Organic traffic is not free. It takes time and money. 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.
4. Organic search traffic gives you a competitive edge
If you want to be even remotely competitive in your space, SEO is non-negotiable. Chances are, your competitors are pouring time and money into their organic traffic. They’re targeting high-value keywords. And they’re doing everything they can to dominate the search engine results. On a fundamental level, it means you can’t ignore SEO. But the competitive advantage of organic traffic is not just about playing catch up with your competitors.You can one-up them and secure your spot as the preeminent brand in your space. Here’s why.
If you dominate search results, it’s easier to dominate your market. Imagine that your content appears on the first page of results for the top keywords in your niche. That kind of advantage is gold. Traffic and potential customers that would’ve otherwise gone to your competitor now belong to you. The best part?
With organic search, you don’t have to outspend your competitors to outrank them. Your competitors can’t recreate the content experience that you use to drive organic traffic. This one is major. PPC is easy to replicate and reverse engineer. Many spy tools allow you to dissect paid campaigns to see what’s working and what’s not. You can get insight into what ad creatives generate the most clicks.
That’s not to say that there isn’t the same kind of competitive intelligence where SEO is concerned. In fact, I’m a big fan of analyzing your competitor’s SEO landscape. You can check what keywords they’re targeting and their sources of referral traffic to strengthen your strategy. But the bottom line is this: Your competitors can’t steal your content. The experience that you provide to users is unique to you.The more organic traffic you have, the more currency you have in the online space.
Have you ever heard the saying, “attention is currency?” That’s the unbridled truth. The more eyes you have on your website, the more authority you command. You’ll have more chances to get links to your site, and more people will be clamming for an opportunity to get backlinks from you.
5. You get to plug the holes in your marketing strategy
Here’s the thing. 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 a few key things.
- 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. 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.
Think about this. 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 this 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.
Audience insight. The better you know your customers’ pain points, the more tailored your offers will be. 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.
- You get a microscopic view into what problems your customers have and the language that they use to communicate it
- You get to know what they believe based on how they respond to your content
- 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.
7. Organic traffic brings in regular and more engaged visitors
This is one of the more apparent benefits of organic search traffic. If your website ranks for a relevant keyword, you’ll enjoy regular targeted traffic. This consistent flow of traffic will open the floodgates for new leads and customers. That alone is a sweet deal. But here’s the thing about an organic audience: You have no choice but to create a rich content experience.
More eyes on your website are all well and good, but if you can’t get them to interact, you lose. Engagement is what’s going to facilitate the conversion that you want. When users become invested in your content, they keep coming back, and they become the fuel for your sales funnels. So what is a “rich content experience?” Here’s what I recommend. Be intentional. Most people pump out content because they heard it’s the right thing to do. No rhyme. No reason. That’s a mistake. Every piece of content should serve a goal.
Earlier I touched on using ultimate guides to shift the awareness of the reader to facilitate a conversion. That’s a solid example. Your content can serve any number of goals including sales, lead generation, etc. You could even use it to warm up a cold audience before you expose them to a paid campaign. It can lower your ad costs and increase your click-through rates. The utility of content is endless. You decide.
Go for the micro-conversion. Content like blog posts and podcasts aren’t direct sales tools. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t use them to coach a conversion.
The way to do that is to go for the small wins.
- Interlink your other content
- Embed a video
- Ask a question at the end of each piece of content
- Include social share buttons
- Add content upgrades to collect subscribers
All these are micro-conversions that help to convert a customer in the long run. In-depth content always wins. There’s no secret there. Search engines prefer long-form content. And so do people.
Hubspot found that their articles up to 2500 words drive the most traffic. Similarly, posts with more than 2500 words generated more social shares and links. Naturally, it takes some investment to create that quality of content. The key is to come up with evergreen ideas. This way, your investment will more than pay for itself because your content will be serving your business goals years down the line. Put people first. The thing about search engines and how they rank content? It’s unpredictable. But one thing will remain constant. The job of a search engine is to connect users with the most relevant and useful information. If your content serves that purpose, you don’t have to fear algorithm changes.
8. Organic traffic gives you higher credibility
Quick question. Do you ever click on the paid results when you conduct a search? It turns out, most users don’t. People typically bypass paid results and click on the top organic results. I get it. They’re looking for the most relevant and trustworthy answers to their problems. A top result that appears to be bought doesn’t appeal to them as much as an organic result. That’s where the credibility factor comes into play. It’s why 75% of clicks are organic.
Credibility extends further than that. When potential customers find you on the top page of organic search, it’s an automatic boost in trust. Even if they’re not marketing savvy and they don’t understand what it takes to hold that position, the perceived value of your content goes up.
9. Organic traffic is an excellent method of brand building
Your potential customers use search engines to hunt for information every single day. Google alone processes 40,000 search queries every second. Now imagine this: Every time someone searches for keywords in your industry, they find you. If you’re consistently showing up as the solution, you will become the preeminent brand in their minds.
It means that every piece of content that leads searchers to you is extending your brand equity. Not only that, you’re creating multiple touch points, so potential customers have every opportunity to discover your business. It takes on average of 6-8 touch points with a brand before someone becomes “sales-ready.” Too many? Well, for some industries, it’s way more. One woman’s car-buying journey took 900 digital touch points spanning three months.
Of course, that’s on the crazy end of the spectrum, but it gives you an idea of how these touch points influence sales. So how do you use organic search traffic to build your brand? Here’s what I recommend.
Target all the relevant keywords for your industry. If you don’t actively go after the top keywords in your industry, there’s no way you’ll successfully create these customer touch points. The easy way to find these niche keywords? Use a tool like UberSuggest. Plug your queries into the keyword tool to get some more concrete terms. UberSuggest will give you a list of alphabetized queries. You can then use another tool like Google’s Keyword Planner to determine the competitiveness of these keywords.
Optimize your user experience. The bottom line? Your website is the primary touch point. If a user comes on your site and the experience is less than perfect, they’ll jump for that exit button and never come back. Use experience is vast, but ensure that your site is fast, mobile responsive, and navigation is kept simple.
Tell a consistent brand story. If you have multiple customer touchpoints, your messaging needs to be on point. An incongruent brand story will hurt your credibility and kill trust with your target audience. Whatever marketing channels that you use, ensure that you’re consistent with your message across the board.
Get a handle on your brand reputation. Your brand story is the one that you tell. Your reputation is the story that customers tell on your behalf. If someone consistently stumbles on your site when they type in niche search queries, they’ll be intrigued. The result? They’ll start conducting navigational searches for your brand. The intent behind that search? They want reviews and other customer’s experiences with your business. Ask your customers for reviews and reach out to third-party review sites in your niche. This way, these navigational searches don’t come up empty. I also recommend monitoring your brand mentions. The easy way is to set up Google Alerts. Type in your brand name and create your alert. Any mention online and you’ll be notified.
How to Calculate ROI from Organic Search Traffic
Now that we’ve finished the 9 benefits of organic traffic I wanted to touch on another area: ROI. I recently came across a statistic that boggled my mind. 41% of marketers either aren’t able to calculate the ROI of their marketing activities or didn’t know, outright.
That’s a massive problem. And it’s one that organic search traffic solves. If you want to correlate your marketing efforts with a solid ROI, pay particular attention to where your customers are coming from. If you know where they’re coming from, you can calculate what you invest in each marketing channel, and what return it yields for your business. Some people believe that PPC is better for calculating ROI because it’s more measurable. That’s misguided. You CAN determine what an organic visit is worth to your business in terms of a hard dollar value.
Here’s a quick roadmap.
Step #1: Decide on your business objective. You can’t calculate ROI unless you decide what sort of return you’re looking for. The key performance indicators (KPI’s) that you decide to track will depend on your objectives. Here are some business objectives you may have:
- Brand awareness
- Customer acquisition
- Increased sales
- Lead generation
- Increased engagement
These are a few examples.
Step #2: Configure your goals in Google Analytics based on your objectives. Now that you know what you’re working towards, it’s time to set up tracking for these goals. Go to your Google Analytics dashboard and click on “Admin.” Now, click on goals. The goals that you create will tell analytics what to track.
Let’s assume that your goal is customer acquisition. You know you’ve acquired a customer when you make a sale. So, you’d set up a sales conversion goal. To do that, click on “New Goal.” In the goal setup section, you can either select “template” or “custom.” Custom gives you more flexibility, so go with that option. Go on to the “goal description.” This is where you define your goal by naming it and selecting the type. For customer acquisition, you want to select “Destination.”
Why? It allows you track visits on a specific web page. Whatever page that newly acquired customers land on after the sale, this will be your “Destination.” You can add the URL of that page in the “Goal details” section. There are other optional details that you could include. For example, you can assign a monetary value to a newly acquired customer. You can also map the journey that customers take up until they convert. At the very least, configure the first option. You need that hard dollar value to calculate ROI.
Step #3: Calculate your ROI based on the right performance indicators The performance indicators will depend on the objective you selected in the first step. Want to generate leads? You could track your new subscribers. Want to increase engagement? You could track clicks, comments, shares, etc. Let’s go with the first example: Your goal is customer acquisition. You’ve already set up tracking for sales conversions. It’s time to dissect your organic search traffic.
This way, you’ll know what percentage of these visitors are responsible for your conversions. You can find the conversion rate of your organic search traffic in your dashboard. Bear in mind: If you just configured this, you won’t have any usable data yet. Now let’s say that your conversion rate is 5%, and the average order value for a new customer is $147. 5/100 x $147 = $7.35.
This means that each organic search visit is worth $7.35. Chances are, you’ll spend WAY less than that to generate that one visit. How’s that for some rock-solid ROI? You can get even more specific with this by looking at the organic search traffic for a particular keyword. By extension, you can calculate the ROI of that keyword. You can begin to see how this can ramp up your SEO game.
If you know what keywords yield the highest ROI, you know exactly where to deploy your time and resources to maximize your revenue. Pretty cool, right?
Now: Knowing where your customers come from is great. Knowing how that traffic impacts your bottom line is even better. But figuring out how to consistently convert that organic traffic into customers is everything. Sadly, many people struggle with it, and I’ll tell you why. SEO is a highly-specialized field.
It takes skill to drive and convert traffic. If you do it yourself, it takes a significant time investment. If you outsource it, it takes a considerable monetary investment. Either way, you need resources. And you’re doing all this in a highly competitive space. Driving organic traffic is no longer just about deploying keywords. SEO is a lot more nuanced and complex than just targeting keywords. You have to consider different keyword types, the search intent of the user and the stage of awareness of your prospects. It takes time to see results.
Anything organic requires patience. It can take several months before your start gaining any traction. Add all of this up, and people struggle to make organic search traffic work for their business. But conquer all of that? Now you get chest-thumping because you’ll be unstoppable.
Traffic is the lifeblood of any online business. 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. You can either use paid channels or organic search.
Which one wins in a fight? 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. 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.Use the insights, implement the action steps, and stay competitive.
What has organic search traffic done for your business?