4 Reasons Organic Search Is Better

Getting traffic from paid advertising and social sites is wonderful -- but not if it results in the neglect of your organic efforts, argues columnist Kristine Schachinger.

Remember when you used to rely solely on search engines for traffic? Remember when you worked on SEO and lived and died by your placement in Google? Were you #1? Assured success. Well, okay, maybe not assured. Success only came if the keywords were relevant to your site users, but it was the only real roadmap to generating site traffic and revenue.

Today, we live in a different world. We diversify. We use AdWords and Bing Ads. We create identities across social platforms, and we promote via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. No longer are sites living and dying by their Google Rankings. Organic is no longer one of the cool kids. Organic is passé. Or is it?

Diversification is a must, and — if we are smart in our digital marketing plans — we no longer live or die by Google’s hand alone, but have we forgotten about our organic listings and how beneficial they can be?

…The clear champion of website traffic is organic search. Overwhelmingly, organic search trumps other traffic generators, driving 51% of all visitors for both B2B and B2C businesses.
BrightEdge, Cracking the Content 2014

New Trend

At our agency, we work with sites of varying sizes, from very large to quite small, and recently, we have noticed a trend at the enterprise level. These sites aren’t relying as much on Google for traffic any more. Not only are they not relying on Google traffic, but also, the sites are getting less than 10 percent (or slightly more) of their organic traffic from the search giant.

Now, it is not that these sites are not interested in Google users. In fact, they have hired us to help them increase their share. However, they are getting so much traffic from sites like Facebook that it seems there is less urgency about attracting this traffic and less willingness to change the site to meet organic standards. Not long ago, sites would urgently and unquestioningly abide by Google’s standards to court that traffic.

Yet, is this the right direction? With the shrinking of organic listings and the push below the fold across many SERPs, is organic still worth it? Here are four reasons why you should not overlook your organic listings.

4 Reasons Organic Still Matters

1. Organic Still Rocks

Although it may have changed slightly since BrightEdge published its report last year, the data still seem to hold true. Organic is simply better fordelivering relevant traffic. The only channel that performs better in some capacities is paid search ads, but that is only for conversions, not overall traffic delivery (Paid Search only accounted for 10 percent of overall total traffic).

As I already mentioned, these users are not seeking you out; you ran across their path and they thought “Oh, cool, something I need right now!” If they have an excellent experience on your site, they may come back, but the ratio of retained visitors from paid is low in the sites we see.

When you’re paying for your traffic, it is like renting. You get an immediate action, but there is no long-term buy-in from most of the visitors you get this way.

With organic search, the user mindset is different. In that case, the user is looking for you, or at least what you sell/offer/publish. When they find you, if you provided an excellent experience, they often come back. If you are an unknown brand, repetitive appearances across results can start to increase brand recognition and brand loyalty.

If you get into the Knowledge Graph, you are the on-page authority in the result.

Investment Levels

In addition, if you invest in organic, you can, at times, lower that investment to maintenance levels or even take a break if needed.

Though a long break is never suggested, there are times that money can be shifted and put towards other resources for a short time. A good example would be an online retailer. In the couple of weeks leading up to the Christmas holidays, you are unlikely to get more organic placement than you already have. Besides, the window of opportunity for shipping gifts to arrive before Christmas is ending, and you are heading into a slow season.

You might decide to take an “organic break” and shift that money into immediate “last minute” sales through paid advertising. Your organic will not suffer, and your money will generate additional traffic.

When you do this, if the site is still doing what it needs to do by producing content, keeping a tight rein on technical issues and monitoring its inbound link profile, you will not generally lose any significant amounts of traffic, unless you’re in a highly competitive industry, or if you changed something that damaged your site in Google’s eyes.

You cannot do this with paid. When the money goes away, so does the majority of the traffic that came with it. 

Don’t Let Your Organic Die on the Vine

While you are reveling in all your Facebook visits and paid advertising, don’t forget to invest in your organic results. These results will sustain you during those times when you cannot put more money into your paid budgets.

Organic traffic is a completely different type of traffic from what you’ll receive from any paid or social channels.

Organic is what people are looking for; the rest of these simply put things in front of people who may or may not be seeking what you offer. We know that approximately X number of people are looking for Y every day. So if we can get on front of those people, we have a much greater opportunity to create long-term relationships and increase our overall ROI.

Diversification is good, but organic still rocks. Make sure you don’t neglect yours.

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