The Difference Between Organic and Paid-For Search Engine Marketing


Organic traffic? Not quite what we meant.

As a Redcliffe small business putting together your online marketing strategy you may come across the terms “organic” traffic and “paid” traffic and wonder what the difference is.

We should all be well aware by now how vital traffic is to an online business – it is at the heart of getting more customers. Whatever you are doing with your marketing efforts at some stage you need to focus on driving as much traffic as possible to your website; below we look at these two different approaches to doing that.

Organic Traffic (or SEO)

Organic traffic comes from people typing terms in search engines and then clicking on your listing that is displayed in the search results. It is the reason why your keyword research and search engine optimisation efforts are so important to your online business.

Organic traffic can take time to build, but once you have reached the top of the Google search results for your keywords, it can create long-lasting streams of traffic to your website. In some cases moving from position 2 in the search results (or SERPs as the industry calls it) to position 1 can double your traffic.

Organic traffic helps you to build your investment incrementally and in a way that a little expenditure and effort now can pay dividends for months and years on end, further down the track. Growing this is adding to the goodwill value of your business and building an asset.

How to Build Organic Traffic

The way to build organic traffic is by search engine optimisation. On-page SEO will make sure that your keywords feature and your meta tags,title tags and descriptions are all in order; you can also create content via a blog or other articles that target your keywords.

Your off-page SEO will be about garnering links that point back to your site – by publishing articles, guest blogging, reciprocal link building and link baiting. This shows the search engines that you are a good authority in your field.

Organic traffic will also build if you use social media marketing and online video to build your reputation and credibility, demonstrate expertise in your field and generally try to lead the way with quality and integrity.

Paid-For Traffic

Paid-for traffic is usually from a specific online campaign you run that targets people who are interested in a particular product or service you offer.

The most common type is a Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign where you pay for every visitor that comes through to your website; this is low-risk because you only pay for results (clicks = visitors = leads.) Its likely that you’ve heard of Google Adwords and Facebook Ads.

It is also highly measurable – performance across various campaigns can easily be compared to see what’s working and what’s not. This can help to guide your organic SEO efforts, as it will highlight which keywords are best for targeting.

Usually you will set up a special landing page for this traffic that aims at converting the visitors to actual sales.

This traffic is usually more qualified as they are choosing to click through based upon a specific product or service, rather than generally browsing your site – which may be the case with organic traffic.

Paid-for traffic is instant and targeted, but it stops as soon as the money runs out so the time span is much more limited than organic traffic.

Your ad appears for particular keywords you have bought into, but only as long as you pay for it to be there; once it’s gone, there is no lasting effect from it, much like a newspaper ad or TV/radio advertising.

One way to think of these campaigns is that you are buying market research data in the form of statistics on what people want and are willing to buy while generating leads at the same time – cool huh?

Which Type of Traffic for your Business?

Of course, for most businesses, both types of traffic are applicable – you don’t have to choose between them; the key is to try different ways to get traffic – anything that doesn’t work is still another step on the learning curve and it’s unlikely to be an expensive mistake anyway.

For a Redcliffe small business it will probably pay to concentrate mainly on your organic traffic efforts and intersperse a few PPC campaigns too, to assess the impact of certain keywords.

Measurement and conversion of that traffic will discussed in upcoming articles.

Have you done something that sent a lot of traffic to your website? What was it?