What is Organic Traffic & Why is it Important?

What is Organic Traffic?

If you’ve recently started a blog or website, you’ll be getting to grips with lots of new concepts. Today I am focussing on the one of the most widely coveted topics for any website owner: organic traffic. If you’re not 100% familiar with this, I’ll explain what organic traffic is so you’re clear.

Additionally I’ll explain why you should be as fanatical about it as I am!

In this post I’ll:

  • Define exactly what organic traffic is.
  • Explain why it’s so important.
  • Outline the benefits of organic traffic.
  • Discuss some of the steps you need to take so you can start growing your traffic organically.

Definition of Organic Traffic

Organic traffic refers to visitors reaching your site as a direct result of making a search in a search engine.

The visitor sees your page listed in the search results, decides it looks interesting and clicks the link to it.

However, search engine results include paid listings (advertisements retrieved by search engines) as well as organic listings (pages retrieved by search engines).

Paid Ads

Paid ads usually appear at the very top of the search results page (and sometimes at the bottom too). You can spot them easily because they appear with text identifying them as adverts.

In Google and Bing, paid search listings look like this:

Google Paid Advertising
Google Paid Advertising
Bing Paid Advertising
Bing Paid Advertising

Search engines give paid listings priority at the top of the results pages. Search engines are businesses and paid ads generate billions of dollars in revenue for them.

Organic Results

Organic listings appear beneath paid ads. Sometimes they also appear beneath other panels and carousels such as featured snippets, news and video results.

So… organic results are those pages that search engines determine are the most relevant ones for a given search query rather than those that pay for high placement.

There are hundreds of factors that determine the placement of a page in the organic results. However unlike paid ads, how much you are prepared to pay is not one of them.

That’s not to say that there is not a cost to ranking high in the organic results. Attaining a high position will takes time and effort. However, the main difference between paid and organic listings is that you do not make a financial payment directly for ranking position or a click on your link.

So to summarize, organic traffic is visitors to your site coming from a search they made and clicking on your page listing beneath the paid ads section.

What are the Benefits?

As touched upon above, the principal benefit of organic traffic is that it is free. To clarify, it’s free at the point someone clicks your link in the search results.

The actual cost of attaining a high enough position in the search results to drive organic visits is difficult to measure due to several factors. I’ll leave this for now though as I cover it below in the next section.

The main benefit of organic traffic is that it compounds. This means the more content you have that generates clicks, the more your organic traffic will increase.

According to SparkToro‘s analysis of Google, organic traffic is more likely to generate visits than paid ads. This is despite the fact that paid ads appear higher in the results.

Google Click Analysis

However, to generate organic visits your pages must appear as high on the first results page as possible. The lower down the results your pages the less likely it is that people will see them.

How Do You Get Organic Traffic?

First of all you have to produce high-quality content (and lots of it). This content must be good enough to deserve high placement for search queries that relate to it. You may produce this yourself (time cost) or you may pay people to produce it for you (financial cost).

You must produce well-researched and substantial content. The days of posting 500 word articles and expecting to rank highly are long gone. Look now towards long-form content of at least 1,000 words and more where warranted.

Research shows that you should regularly add new content to your site. This shows search engines that your site is active and current.

You also have to promote your content because otherwise people will not see it. Promoting your content involves at least a time cost, but potentially a financial cost too if you require other people. Such promotion involves techniques such as:

  • Getting your pages indexed in search engines. No page will ever rank in the organic results if it isn’t indexed.
  • Optimizing your content to increase the likelihood that people searching for keywords relating to it will find it in the results and click on your link.
  • Updating your existing content to show it is still relevant.
  • Generating links back to your content so search engines view it as important and position your pages higher in the results.
  • Being active in social media to signal to search engines that the profiles connected to your site generate interest.

For the record, the above are examples and NOT a definitive list for SEO! There are many other techniques to promote your blog / website that I handle outside of this post.

How Long Does it Take to Get Organic Traffic?

The $1 million dollar question!

The truth is that your site will not receive a glut of organic traffic at the start of your journey. It takes time and consistent effort to add high quality content and then promote it.

Additionally the competitiveness of the niche you are targeting plays a part. There is no way you are going to start publishing content in a competitive niche and open the organic traffic floodgates over the course of a couple of months.

Received wisdom suggests that you’ll start to see significant organic traffic increases between 3 months and a year, assuming you’re consistently publishing content and promoting it in the right ways.

A fitting analogy I’ve heard is that growing your organic traffic is like trying to produce a fine wine: i.e. it improves as time passes as long as you give it the treatment it deserves!


  • Organic traffic is the “free” visits a site receives from queries made in search engines. Someone makes a search, the search engine displays one of your pages in the results and someone clicks it.
  • Aside from being free at the point of the click, research shows that searchers are more likely to click an organic result over a paid ad listing.
  • Your content must substantial and be of a high quality to stand a chance of ranking high in search results.
  • It takes sustained effort and creativity over a period of between 3 months to a year to see a material difference in organic traffic volumes.

Thanks for reading… that’s all for now folks!


Organic Traffic Pin It Image

Leave a comment or ask me anything if you need to know more about what organic traffic is in the comments section below.

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