Organic Versus Free: What Does This Really Mean?


Organic Traffic – “Say What?”

Welcome to my next addition to Digital Marketing Definitions. In case you missed my prior definition posts, here’s what I already explained in prior lessons:

In this post I’m talking about Organic Traffic and Paid Traffic.

First of all, what do we mean by “traffic”?

“Traffic” is just digital marketer speak for visitors to your website. We like to talk about “how much traffic we’re getting” and “how much more traffic we have now that we’ve started XYZ…”. It’s important because the more traffic you get, the more opportunities you have to generate increased business from your website.

But what makes your traffic “organic”?

Organic traffic means visitors who come to your website “naturally”, through avenues such as a Google or Bing search results page, from a link in your email signature, a link in your LinkedIn profile, or by clicking a link in a blog post that mentions your site. These are all examples of organic traffic.

“Paid” traffic

Paid traffic, on the other hand, represents visitors that arrive at your website through paid online advertising. The classic example of this is a Google AdWords ad. It could also mean website banner, feed or sidebar ads, paid affiliate links and all sorts of other paid listings. Usually this is PPC (Pay Per Click Advertising), a form of advertising in which the price you pay is determined by the number of clicks your ad receives. It could also be a promoted post on a social media feed, where you pay extra for a social media post to get more exposure than it would normally receive. Facebook ads are much more prevalent now, and we Facebook users have all grown accustomed to seeing ads pop up in our newsfeeds. Same with Twitter.

We digital marketers see new ways to generate Paid Traffic all the time, but Google AdWords is still the most common one I work with. In this example below, we see both a paid ad, and an organic listing, on the same page of a Google search result.


So is organic traffic free?

Organic traffic is “unpaid”, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is free. Many paid marketing activities will result in organic traffic. For example, if you pay someone (like me, or another copy writer) to generate content for your blog, that traffic will be organic. However, you would have paid to create that content marketing that in turn generates the free organic traffic.

Most sound digital marketing strategies will incorporate a balance of both paid and organic traffic generating tools. Please get in touch if you have any questions, or want to talk about how we can get more traffic going to your website. I love talking traffic!

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