What’s the Difference Between Organic and Paid Traffic, and Which Is More Important

website organic traffic

As a small business owner with a website, it’s not enough to create it and sit back. You’ve got to make your website work for you. To do that, you’ve got to understand the difference between paid and organic traffic and what each means to your small business website.


Paid Versus Organic

Paid traffic can refer to any traffic coming from an advertisement online. However, for the sake of this blog, we’re referring to pay-per-click (PPC) ads on search engines. These are the results that appear at the top of search results and on the sidebar; they’re easy to identify by the “Ad” logo below the website.

Organic traffic, on the other hand, is when someone performs a search, your site comes up in the results and the person chooses to visit your site. Both types of traffic are somewhat easy to control, but increasing your organic traffic takes a bit more work because it all depends on where you currently rank on Google’s search engine.

Traffic is important to your website. It’s important to your business. Do you really care how people end up on your site? Yes and no. At the end of the day, the fact that someone spent time on your site is the most important thing, but if you want to develop long-term relationships with your audience, organic traffic wins out. Let’s take a look at some of the considerations when it comes to these two types of traffic.


  1. Budget

Paid ads don’t come free because, well, they are paid ads. That means that you are handing over money to Google for the chance to win a bid to appear at the top of search results. If you don’t have a budget to work with, you’re going to want to concentrate all of your powers on ensuring that your website is search engine optimized so you are getting the most organic traffic you can by ranking high on Google’s first page.

If you have at least some budget to work with, incorporate PPC advertising where you can.One of the benefits of PPC advertising is that is drives traffic to your site quickly. This can be good if you are testing out new features. The other benefit is that you don’t have to worry about SEO strategies with PPC traffic. It remains relatively stable.


  1. Cost Per Click

This goes right along with your budget considerations. You want to invest in PPC advertising that is going to drive traffic to your website. This means that you will be paying for certain keywords. Some of those words can be incredibly expensive. It would be wise to see what your competition is up to with regards to PPC.

If you are interested in discovering the cost per click of certain industry words, you can look them up on Google’s keyword planner tool. If the average cost of your keywords is relatively high, you will want to focus your efforts on ensuring that your small business website is optimized and save yourself some money.


  1. Competition

It pays to be a snoop. If you don’t keep an eye on the competition, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. See what your competition is doing with their keywords. You aren’t going to be able to get into their design platform to ascertain what they have typed in, but you’ll be able to get a better idea by doing some simple searches yourself. You can also take another look at Google’s keyword tool.

Here’s why it matters. If your competitors are all using the same keyword as you, SEO may not be where you need to concentrate your efforts. It will be easier to draw traffic to your site with PPC. If, on the other hand, the demand for a particular keyword is low, you can draw ample traffic with SEO. It’s a bit of a balancing act to be sure.


  1. Goals

When you are deciding where to concentrate your efforts, keep both your short- and long-term goals in mind. If you want to increase traffic right now, PPC is your focus. If you want to build a consistent amount of traffic over time, SEO is your goal. A good combination of both is always the best strategy, but if your goals lean more to one side or the other, you know where you need to focus your efforts.

Think of this as a quality versus quantity argument. If your want quantity, focus on PPC. You will get traffic to your site almost as soon as your ads go live. It’s the nature of the beast. If quality is what you’re after and you are more interested in attracting customers and then retaining them, you’ll want to concentrate on making sure your site is search engine optimized.


  1. Time

Let’s be honest, you are trying to run a business. You don’t have hours each day to spend

Making sure your site is optimized. You need traffic and you need it now. Not only does it take time to optimize your site but it takes time to make it work for you.

Again, it’s in your best interest to find a balance between the two. If you can utilize both types of strategies, you will get traffic now and later — the best of both worlds. Of course, you can always pay someone to optimize your site while you take care of more pressing matters. That, though, will take a chunk of your budget that you may not want to spend right now.

If you have questions about search engine optimization for your small business website or how to make your business run more smoothly, feel free to contact us at We have a variety of tools and services that will meet your needs — even the ones you don’t realize you have.

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