Difference Between Organic and Paid Traffic

There has long been a debate between marketers about which kind of traffic their business should be focusing on. Organic and paid traffic employ different marketing methods and each has its own benefits and limitations. The right option (or combination) for your business will depend on your marketing goals, budget, and timeline. In this article, we will discuss the difference between organic vs paid traffic methods and the benefits of each. We will also learn how to combine the two strategies to create one well-rounded marketing plan. 

benefits of organic search

What is the Difference Between Organic vs Paid Traffic?

Put simply, organic traffic is traffic that comes to your website from organic rankings in search results, while paid traffic comes from paid online advertisements. The most obvious difference between organic vs paid traffic methods is the cost. Since increasing organic traffic focuses on organic methods, it is free. Companies can use a variety of SEO methods to increase their traffic organically. On the other hand, paid search is done by running paid online ads or paying to appear in the “paid ads” section at the top of search results pages. 

Different kinds of content are better suited for either organic or paid search. Useful and creative content, such as blogs, videos, and infographics are more suited to organic methods. More sales-focused pages, like landing pages, checkout pages, and product/service pages are more suited to a paid ad format. Each method has its own benefits and shortcomings. This means that the best options for you and your business may change frequently based on your budget, goals, and overall marketing plan. It is best to experiment with different methods and see what has the biggest impact on traffic to your website. In the next sections, we will learn some of the benefits you can receive from focusing on organic vs paid traffic methods.

Benefits of Organic Search

Organic Methods Are Free

One of the best benefits of organic traffic methods is that they are free. While you do have the option to put money into improving organic traffic (like paid SEO tools or hiring an agency), it is not necessary. This benefit can be especially helpful for new companies or businesses with smaller marketing budgets. The most important thing you can invest in organic methods is time. SEO strategies take time to work, but they often produce fantastic results.

Increases ROI

Optimizing your website for search engines can increase your return on investment (ROI). While it is difficult to put these benefits into actual numbers, it is very easy to see when your SEO strategies are working. Many marketing case studies have mentioned the numerous benefits of a well-executed SEO strategy. In fact, nearly 90% of marketers say that they have used SEO to successfully boost traffic. 

Compounding Benefits

When focusing on organic traffic, one of the most important aspects is creating and sharing great content. When you create great content, it helps to get your website noticed. This means that you will potentially see a boost, not only in traffic and leads, but also revenue and search engine rankings. All of these benefits compound to produce even greater results for your website and your business. 

benefits of paid search

Boosts Credibility

Optimizing your site for organic search can help to boost your site’s credibility. Appearing at the top of the search results page gives a signal to users that you are an authoritative voice in your business’s niche. This is especially true for organic vs paid traffic. Users are far more likely to click on your website if it is at the top of the regular search results (and not the paid ads section). In fact, one study found that 53% of web traffic comes from organic search, while only 27% comes from paid ads.

Brings in Relevant Users

Another great benefit of organic search is that it helps to attract a greater number of relevant users to your website. While paid search tactics let you target very specific audiences, focusing on organic methods can help you to bring in many different groups of users at once. When you focus on organic strategies, you have the ability to attract users who have searched for content relevant to what is on your website.

Provides Helpful Data

Combining organic methods with an SEO toolkit or data analytics manager can provide your marketing team with tons of helpful user data. Most content management platforms have analytics tracking built right in. Your team can use this information to find relevant keywords, target specific audiences, and see how well your content is performing. You can then use all of this information to hone your overall SEO strategy.

Supports a Connected Marketing Approach

Lastly, focusing on organic traffic promotes a connected and holistic marketing plan. Since SEO tactics often take time and effort to bring in more traffic, you can easily use them to complement your other marketing strategies. For example, you can use social media content to bring attention to your website, while targeting visitors with an email campaign. All of these strategies can be combined into one plan that helps to bring in users at all stages of the marketing funnel. 

organic search

Paid Search Benefits

Results Are Instant

One great benefit that paid ads have over methods to increase organic traffic is that results are achieved much faster. SEO tactics often take time to start working, while paid ads usually provide a boost in traffic as soon as you start using them. This can be very helpful for new businesses that need to start building up their website’s visibility fast. 

Offers SEO Keyword Data

When running paid ads for your business online, you will receive lots of helpful user data information, including relevant keywords, demographics, user locations, and more. You can then use this information to round out your marketing strategy with SEO. See what keywords are performing the best in your ads and use them to create new content for your SEO strategies.

Delivers Great ROI

Despite the fact that you have to spend money upfront (as opposed to free SEO strategies), paid ads can provide an excellent ROI for your company. In fact, one study done by Google found that most businesses earn $8 for every $1 spent on Google Ad campaigns. Overall, most companies can expect at least $2 for every $1 spent on paid online marketing strategies. 

Attracts Quality Leads

One huge benefit of focusing on paid advertisements is that paid methods tend to attract users who are ready to make a purchase. Users who search for a specific product or service using the paid ads section know what they want and are looking for the best option available. Targeting these qualified leads with your ads can bring in more traffic and increase conversions for your business.

Can Fit Into Any Marketing Budget

Lastly, another great benefit of paid ad campaigns is that there are tons of options available for every kind of budget. Paid ads are also easy to track, so you can plan out your budget ahead of time. You can also adjust your spending based on how successful your other strategies are. No matter what your company or marketing agency is looking to spend, there is an option out there for you. 

paid search

How to Increase Organic and Paid Traffic

While paid and organic search methods work well separately, using them together can be a great way to boost traffic and round out your marketing plan. There are two main ways that you can use these two strategies together. The first is to use paid advertising first and then switch your focus to more organic strategies. This can be very helpful for new businesses that need a quick boost in traffic. It can realistically take 3-6 months to see results from SEO and some companies may not have this kind of time. 

The second option is to use both at the same time. Since many aspects of paid and organic search complement each other, this can be a really great way to ensure an increase in traffic from many different sources. Take a look at your marketing budget, your goals, and your timeline to craft your overall marketing plan. After some time, conduct a review and figure out which methods have been successful and which have not. 

organic vs paid traffic

Combining Organic and Paid Search for Better Marketing

When marketing your business online, it can be difficult to choose between organic vs paid traffic methods. Each strategy comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately, it will take some trial and error to find the right combination of strategies that works best for you. Not sure where to start? SEO Design Chicago can help. The knowledgeable digital marketing consulting team can review your marketing plan and help you to choose the best options for you and your business.


  • What is organic traffic?
  • What is paid traffic?
  • Can I use organic and paid search methods together?
  • What is the difference between organic and paid search?
  • Can paid advertising be done with a limited budget?

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