The main way we navigate the internet around the world today is by searching — with the vast majority of searches coming from the Google search engine, and a very small market share going to other search engines like Yahoo or Bing. In marketing terms, all of this searching is referred to as organic search, and it is the most “natural” way you might navigate to a new place, or find the answer to a burning question you find yourself suddenly needing to know the answer to.
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about organic search engine results, and the difference between organic search and other types of traffic to a website.
What is organic search?
To understand how organic search works, let’s think about how we navigate the internet. If you’re on a desktop, you start by opening a browser and typing wherever you want to go in the navigation bar at the top of the browser window. The navigation bar is most commonly configured to automatically perform a Google search immediately there for you, and then display a Google-hosted search result page.
So for example, if you’re looking for Victorious, you might know that we exist and type “victorious seo” in your browser (or start by typing “victorious,” only to discover that Victorious is apparently also the name of a very popular kids’ TV show, and then modify your search with “seo” 😂 ). When you see the websites that appear for this search query, our website will be right there at the top, and you can click its link to navigate to our site.
Alternatively, you might not know that we exist but just be looking for an SEO company in general. In this case, you would start by typing “seo company” into the navigation bar, and the same thing would happen — our website would be right there at the top, and you’d click it to find our site and see that we are, in fact, an SEO company!
What is organic traffic?
So far, you performed a search, and navigated to a website you found in your search results. This click you made, in this example to the Victorious website, would be logged in Google Analytics as a new user to our site, with an attribution source as “organic traffic.” Organic search traffic is simply the traffic Victorious receives from that search you made, and other searches like it.
Another way of looking at it is in the context of all the other ways you might have found Victorious. You may have clicked a link to our site, for example, from our profile on Clutch (4.9 stars, wow! 😇 ) while reviewing SEO agencies (that’s called “referral traffic”). Maybe you have already been to our site before, and so Google auto-filled our URL into your navigation bar when you started typing “victorious” (that would appear as “direct traffic”). Maybe you clicked a link in an email (surprise surprise, that’s called “email traffic”) or clicked a link from Facebook (you guessed it, “social traffic”).
Unlike these other types of traffic, organic traffic to our site will only occur if you find us by searching for something, and then clicking on a link to our site from the results page, whether you searched specifically for us or searched for a topic that our website serves.
Why is organic traffic important?
When you flip it around and instead of thinking about navigating the internet, think about the companies whose websites are appearing to answer all of your search queries, it becomes clear very quickly why organic traffic is important.
Imagine if you were a company that provided web development services, and when someone searched “web development agency” your site wasn’t listed in the results. How would you be found? For the very basic reason of brand visibility, organic traffic is hugely important to marketers.
For that reason, when marketers are looking at their organic search engine traffic, they are often looking to understand how their brand is growing, and whether they are doing a good job helping new potential customers find their company.
In addition to organic traffic being important to marketers because of the sheer quantity of people using the internet to find solutions to their problems, organic traffic is also important because it’s commonly significantly more valuable than other types of traffic from a business perspective. Targeted organic traffic tends to have better engagement, higher conversion rates, and a much lower bounce rate than its paid search counterpart.
For these reasons, organic traffic is not only important, but a fundamental part of a modern marketing strategy. Without being visible in search engines and consistently strategizing to increase your search traffic, your company is leaving business on the table.
Can I buy organic traffic?
So if you know that organic traffic is extremely valuable, you might be asking, “Can I just go buy some?”
As wonderful as it might sound to be able to pay some extra bucks and show up #1 in organic search results, you can’t just buy organic traffic.
Buying organic traffic isn’t possible, and no SEO company can take money and guarantee results — that’s just not the nature of SEO. (If you start talking to an SEO company and they start promising specific rankings or results, run fast in the opposite direction.)
Why can’t we or any other respectable SEO company guarantee specific organic search traffic results? It comes down to a lack of control:
You can’t control what your competitors do.
Let’s say you have a great piece of content that is appearing #1 in search results and driving lots of organic traffic to your website. For example, in the case of a web development agency, let’s say you have a blog about how to successfully plan for a redesign. If one day, one of your competitors starts to focus on their blog about the same topic, and pushes ahead of you into spot #1, you will probably see your search traffic to that page go down. You can certainly invest time and resources on activities to make sure your piece of content comes back and starts ranking for #1 again, but there’s no guarantee that at any given time you will be #1 or have a specific amount of search traffic.
You can’t control the trends of your market.
Let’s say your industry starts to adopt new technology that revolutionizes your market and changes your customers’ pain points. Maybe your top-ranking amazing piece of content is still ranking #1, but people are just searching for it less. We can’t guarantee specific amounts of search traffic because we can’t guarantee how your market might evolve over time.
You can’t control outside forces.
In post-COVID times, I feel like this requires less explaining. Many of our customers were ranking #1 for hot search queries in industries that essentially went on hiatus when COVID hit. One of our customers in a niche tourism market, for example, was still ranking #1 for some great, high-volume searches, but since everyone was stuck at home, and no one was looking for their exciting travel experiences, their search traffic for those search terms went down. And although that brings great opportunities of its own, to pivot your COVID SEO strategy and crush the competition, it still speaks to your lack of control. As comforting as it would be, we can’t guarantee that life as we know it will always be the same.
Part of what makes Victorious’s approach to SEO services different is that it is diversified and process-driven. Victorious’s methodical approach to SEO is focused on identifying business goals, not search traffic goals, and then increasing organic search to achieve those goals. This means that our customers get sustainable growth in the search engines. If any of those things outside of your control start impacting your ability to achieve those business goals with your SEO strategy, for us it simply means assessing how to evolve the SEO strategy given the changes in the market. We carry you through that change.
So although it’s important to understand that you cannot directly buy organic traffic, it’s also important to know that you can invest in SEO experts to help you create and evolve your SEO strategy and campaigns sustainably over the years to come.
Which leads us to the last question…
How do I get organic search results?
It’s more important than ever for digital marketers to know how search works and what they can do to maximize their visibility.
Maximizing organic traffic to get organic search results that drive high-quality, organic website traffic is what search engine optimization (SEO) is all about. You can achieve this on your own, with an in-house SEO team, or you can outsource the whole strategy to an SEO agency, who will put together a campaign for you. Victorious is the only agency that operates within full-year contracts only, which ensures that you are taking the time to figure out the best strategies for doing things right, so you can get the organic search results you need to drive that essential organic search traffic to your site that drives your business outcomes.
If you’re looking to improve your organic search results, you can start with a free consultation and learn more about how a strategic SEO campaign could help your business.