There are two main types of search engine traffic: organic and paid. Paid refers to traffic that comes from clicks on paid ads that appear above and below the main search results. Organic refers to traffic from clicks on the non-paid, main search result between the ads.
Paid traffic can be easily obtained by setting up pay-per-click Google Ads campaigns, while organic traffic can be grown through search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies.
Caption: The listing in the red box is a paid ad, the listing in green is an organic result
So what’s more valuable, paid or organic traffic? Let’s look at the pros and cons of both.
H2: Paid search traffic pros:
H3: Instant traffic
Probably the biggest benefit of paid traffic is how quickly it can give you a boost in traffic. Setup a campaign and within a matter of days, or even hours, you will start to see traffic hit your site.
H3: Only pay for results obtained
Pay-per-click ads mean exactly that – you only pay when someone clicks on an ad and visits your site. This means you are guaranteed traffic from your ad spend – though you don’t know ahead of time exactly what your cost-per-click will be.
H2: Paid search traffic cons:
H3: Can be costly
Google Ads can be expensive, especially if there is a high level of competition in your niche. Cost-per-click can spike and you can eat through your budget faster than you planned, especially if your campaign settings aren’t perfectly optimised (which can be difficult to achieve).
H3: Results are only short term
Unlike organic traffic, paid traffic only lasts for as long as you pay for it. Paid traffic will stop as soon as you stop your campaign. The money you spend on paid ads is not a long-term investment.
H2: Organic traffics pros:
H3: Organic results are more trusted
Organic search results are generally more trusted by users, as they are seen as more credible and as being “earned”. Users trust Google, and know that if a result appears high up in its search results it is likely to be legitimate and trustworthy.
Websites need to earn their place at the top of organic search results rather than being able to just pay to get there. Users recognise this, and that’s why organic listings have higher click-through-rates than paid listings.
H3: SEO is a long-term investment
SEO does require an initial investment of time and/or money, and its results are not immediate. However, once you start seeing results you can keep seeing them long after your initial investment was made.
If you focus on producing quality “evergreen” content, meaning content on topics that stay relevant long-term, you can continue to bring in a large amount of traffic years after you first published the content.
H3: Better on-site performance
You are more likely to see better performance metrics from users who click through from organic listings, including lower bounce rates, longer average session durations and higher conversion rates.
This is because sites found organically are more likely to contain content that actually matches what the user was looking for, resulting in more time spent on site and more chance that they will make a purchase or other type of conversion.
H2: Organic traffic cons:
H3: Requires a lot effort
Creating high quality SEO content and getting it to rank requires a lot of work, including keyword research, strategy, copywriting, technical optimisation and link-building.
It’s not easy, but it is worth the effort. Of course, a good SEO agency can take on this work for you.
H3: It takes time to build traffic
SEO is not an immediate traffic solution. It takes time to produce content, publish new pages then build up search rankings.
But once you get your pages ranking highly it’s relatively easy to maintain their ranking.
H2: Consider your needs
The option that is best for you will depend on your business needs. If you need a traffic boost right away, you are probably better off going with paid traffic. However, for long-terms results, boosting organic traffic with SEO is the better option.
Of course, you can always combine the two strategies and get the best of both worlds.