Organic Traffic: What It Is and Why It’s Important

Jamie Birt

Updated May 27, 2022

Published April 5, 2021

Jamie Birt is a career coach with 5+ years of experience helping job seekers navigate the job search through one-to-one coaching, webinars and events. She’s motivated by the mission to help people find fulfillment and belonging in their careers.

Website traffic refers to the people who visit a website. While there are many types of traffic, websites use all visitor data to measure how successful their marketing strategies are at bringing in users, like customers or readers. Organic traffic is one important type that helps websites determine whether they’re getting new visitors to their site and how they might increase those visitors.

In this article, we define organic traffic and discuss its importance in search engine optimization (SEO) and in creating a digital presence, and review tips on how to increase visitors organically.

Key takeaways:

  • Organic traffic is an ideal way for businesses to promote their brand or product without having to pay for space.

  • Organic traffic is driven by SEO, which means it’s the type of traffic you can potentially grow by implementing the latest SEO techniques.

  • In certain cases, organic traffic could be obscured by direct traffic—a high direct traffic percentage should be investigated.

What is organic traffic?

Organic traffic is when someone visits a website they found on a search engine. This kind of site traffic means visitors are not being referred by another website or clicking on a paid ad, but are searching for something specific and finding a website on their own. Those who manage websites use organic traffic as a metric to measure how well their website content matches popular and relevant internet searches.

Related: What Is Web Traffic Monitoring? Plus Benefits, Tools and Steps

Why organic traffic is important

Organic traffic is important as it indicates how well your SEO is working and also represents potential client conversions. When someone searches for a specific item or topic, they are more likely to make a purchase or read an article on a page that relates closely to their search.

This is different from ads, which target people based on their internet activity, including their search activity, and hope the user will be interested in the advertised website. Paid visitors may not be fully interested in the item or topic advertised, though—even if they end up clicking through—since they’re not actively seeking it out like organic visitors are.

Further, visitors who find websites on their own may trust the website more than if they found it from an ad on another website. Typically, people also only click on the first page of search engine results, so finding a website from the top SERP results already builds a higher level of trust between the organic visitor and an unfamiliar website.

Related: 29 Ways To Drive Traffic To Your Website

Direct vs. organic traffic

The primary difference between direct traffic and organic traffic is the traffic source. While it’s clear that organic traffic comes from search engines like Google and Bing and is driven by SEO, direct traffic has no traffic source to analyze. Most commonly, this is due to a user typing in the website’s URL directly or by clicking on a bookmark. Other possible reasons for direct traffic, though, include:

  • Faulty tracking codes: If a code isn’t working, each click could count as a new user.

  • Apps, emails or text messages: These are not considered a website so there isn’t a source to track.

  • A non-secure website: If your website is non-secure, or “http,” a clickthrough from a secure website, or “https”—including search engines—will be recorded as no source.

In the case of a non-secure website, clicks counted as direct traffic could actually be organic traffic. If you notice 20% or more of your website traffic is direct traffic, with no source, consider the above as possible reasons why and you could see your organic traffic rise once fixed.

Related: 13 Engagement Metrics to Improve Your Online Marketing

Tips for increasing organic traffic

Here are a few ways you can try to increase your website’s organic traffic:

1. Publish frequent and relevant content

One way to bring organic traffic to your website is to publish content like blogs or articles that are meaningful to your target audience. Putting out new content frequently allows more chances for visitors to find you and helps you stay relevant in search engine results.

Related: 15 Website Improvement Tips

2. Use SEO for text and images

Organic traffic depends on the application of SEO best practices. Not only is quality content important for a website’s search engine ranking, but so is optimizing that content according to the latest search engine optimization guidance:

  • Content should be of high quality

  • Blogs and articles should be properly sourced

  • Links should be relevant and used with the correct anchor text

  • SEO can also help images show up in visual search

Related: Definitive Guide to SEO Marketing

3. Check your traffic analytics

There are a few tools online that help websites measure and analyze their traffic. These tools are important for reviewing your organic traffic and determining which marketing methods are working best for you.

When checking your traffic analytics, think about when you made changes or added content to your site to see how they affected your traffic. Sometimes, these tools also let you see which keywords visitors searched before finding your site. Use those keywords in your content to optimize SEO and bring in more organic traffic.

Related: What Is Google Analytics?

4. Stay active on social media

Social media activity is an important aspect of building a digital presence and possibly increasing organic traffic. For example, having social media accounts with the same name and content as your website allows you to take up more space in search engine results, which can raise your chances of being found and increasing organic visits. Just like on your website, it's a good idea to post frequent, relevant content to your social media.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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