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Organic Traffic vs Paid Traffic, and Why You Need Both

There are two main types of search engine traffic, organic and paid. In this article I will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of organic traffic vs paid. First, let's have a very brief primer on the main features of each.

Organic traffic vs paid traffic, an overview

Organic traffic:

  • Free

  • Does not require large amounts of upkeep

  • Lends perceived authority to your site

  • Increases monetary value of website

  • Can be slow to show results

  • Volatile

Paid traffic:

  • Requires capital investment

  • Requires constant evaluation and tweaking

  • Consistent and controllable

  • Results are immediate

A more in-depth look at organic traffic vs paid traffic

One of the largest and most obvious benefits of organic traffic is that you do not pay for your position in the search engines, nor for the visitors you receive. With paid placements, you are shelling out cash for each visitor, meaning you can only remain competitive as long as you earn more from each visitor than you are paying to bring them to your site. Even then, a visitor you pay for is less profitable on average than one who comes to you for free.

While there may not be a direct monetary cost for organic traffic, it does carry a price tag. The main disadvantage of organic traffic is speed. It can take weeks or even months to see your site start making its way up the search engine rankings. Building organic traffic requires a great deal of experimentation and refinement, and networking with other sites. Successful organic SEO also tends to rely on having very large amounts of topical content, which takes time to build.

Another place organic traffic fares poorly is control. The search engines may rank your pages for word combinations you did not target and might not even want, while ignoring the phrases you consider to be important and relevant. With paid traffic, you can adjust your bids, descriptions, and keywords in near-real time to achieve the desired results.

These days, search engines that sell traffic make it obvious which links are sponsored, which damages the link's authority with visitors. Web surfers are more savvy today than ever before, and they know that a page which is paying for its spot in the results is doing so because it expects to earn money from the visitor. Pages that obtain their rank naturally do so only by being topical and authoritative, authority usually coming in the form of inbound links from other sites covering similar topics, and do not necessarily have a commercial interest.

Another big plus for organic traffic is that it increases the value of your site if you should be interested in selling it. Websites that come with built-in targeted traffic are very attractive to investors. Buyers understand the value of a targeted traffic stream that does not require an investment of capital or energy.

Why you probably want both organic traffic and paid traffic

Paid and organic traffic complement one another quite well. Where organic traffic takes time to build, paid traffic is excellent for immediate results, and can help jump-start your project while you build content and link authority. While paid traffic is, well, paid, organic traffic comes without a cash price and boosts both your overall bottom line and your per-visitor bottom line. Organic traffic can be a bit fickle,as a search engine update may knock your top performing pages right out of the results, while paid traffic provides a bit of security by generating steady visitors and income.

As in investing, genetics, and diet, diversity is advantageous. There is no need to put all of your traffic eggs into one basket. Take advantage of the various traffic streams available to you, and understand the strengths and weaknesses of each one. In the end, you will benefit from bringing in as many content-targeted visitors as possible.

If you're looking for more information about organic traffic vs paid, contact us or visit Crowd Siren.

By: Todd Levy

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