Organic Traffic vs. Paid: Where Should You Focus Your Budget?

Getting people in the door (whether it’s a physical door or a virtual door) is difficult. You can’t just push a button and people automatically show up. It takes a certain kind of effort to attract customers and visitors.

Whether you are driving traffic to your website with paid advertising campaigns via Google Ads (formerly known as “Google AdWords”) or Facebook Ads, or earning traffic through blogging, social media or email marketing, you are paying for your traffic.

So, the question of organic traffic vs. pay-per-click marketing doesn’t necessarily have to do with whether you want to pay for your marketing or not. You’re going to pay either way.

The question really comes down to: “Which is worth more for what you pay?”

1. Organic Traffic Vs. Pay Per Click: A Few Definitions

Organic Traffic (SEO)

Organic in this term has nothing to do with Webster’s definition of the word. In fact, it has more to do with a contemporary synonym of the word, and that’s “natural.”

Organic traffic is that traffic which comes from “organic search.” Organic search only comes from search engine results. It’s never a link from another site or an advertisement. People enter a phrase or keyword. They see your site on the results page, and they decide they want to click.

We’ll go over this in a bit. But you can always influence their decision. And sometimes, by the time they’ve entered that keyword, they’ve already made their decision as to which link they were going to click on.

Pay Per Click Traffic (PPC)

PPC traffic is what happens when someone clicks on an ad you paid for. Google Adwords, Yahoo! Bing Network, LinkedIn, and many others let you set up an advertising campaign where you only pay each time someone clicks on an ad.

You can set how much you want to pay. And the ad service will charge your account until you have run out of funds. Or you can sometimes set up an ad run time and you get charged for how many clicks happen in that time period.

The placement of the ads is determined by factors such as the bidding process, ad relevance and audience response rates. The better your bids or ad performance, the better position your ad takes on the page.

Wtih PPC, you are simply using a middle man, in this case the ad platform, to get your website link to people you wouldn’t normally have access to.

2. Organic Traffic Benefits Vs. Cons

70% of the links searchers click on are organic. And that’s absolutely consistent with the definition of organic traffic. Most of the time, when people go to a search engine, their intent isn’t to click on ads, it’s to search for something or someone specific.

Positive Bias

One of the great benefits of organic search traffic is that those who click on your link already trust that what they will find is what they need.

In essence, if you are high ranking on a search engine page, the user will already have a positive bias toward your site or product. But you need to be near the top for this to be true.

This is where SEO or search engine optimization comes in. And this is where what we mentioned earlier, your work, comes in.

SEO can seem like a daunting field, but it’s not as hard as it seems. And you may already be optimizing your site for search and not even realizing it.

Google has become the standard for SEO because of their large share of the search market. And since Google basically makes all the SEO rules, we should take a look at what Google is doing with its search engine.

Essentially, Google is trying to weed out spam and give search engine users the best content they can. In doing this, Google has increasingly improved and changed their filtering systems to look for quality, non-spam content.

Essentially, their whole game revolves around whether a site has quality content, natural linking relationships with other websites, and what kind of traffic is flowing through that site.

Of course, Google looks at much more than those three things. But your main focus should be quality content with quality links to other quality content on the web. That is how you optimize your site for organic traffic.

Encourages Improvement

If you haven’t already been building up your site with great content, you certainly are going to start once you begin an organic traffic campaign.

If the goal is higher ranking in search engine pages, then your ultimate goal will be quality that keeps people on your site once they’ve clicked.

Once you start down the path of SEO, you are going to strive to keep your higher rankings. Which means more and better content.

You will be wanting to do this with all the pages on your site, so you will have to create better content all the way down the purchase funnel.

This will improve user satisfaction and ultimately boost brand favorability.


As we said earlier, this isn’t about free vs. paid. It’s about organic vs. paid. So, what the real cost of organic traffic? Time.

And if you focus your efforts on organic traffic, you are going to spend a decent amount of time.

Depending on your keyword strategy, it can take months or even years if you want to rise in the ranks. Sometimes you don’t have that kind of time to commit to boosting your website traffic.

Organic traffic takes resources. Now, there are plenty of free tools available on the internet to anyone who wants to try their hand at SEO.

But you have to know which tools to use and when to use them. Again, the time factor is involved here. It might take your precious time to gather these resources.

3. Pay Per Click Traffic Benefits Vs. Cons

If you create excellent paid ads, you will find that PPC traffic is another excellent source of traffic. In fact, if your ad appears at the top position, it gets an average click-through rate of 7%.

Some brand specific or product specific searches will result in even higher click-through-rates than organic traffic.


Now, you can pay someone to SEO your website. And many people do that. But that doesn’t eliminate the fact that it could take a lot of time to see results.

But one of the great benefits of PPC traffic, on the other hand, is that it takes very little time compared to unpaid organic traffic.

Once you’ve paid for and secured that top spot, that top spot is yours to keep. This guarantees that people who search for your keyword see your link first.

Tailored Fit

Just like when you head to the tailor and pick out a suit, the ads you pay for will be made to fit a very specific audience.

You can target your exact customers or potential customers through PPC ads. Organic traffic doesn’t always do this. In fact, if you don’t measure user intent when picking your keywords, you will probably not get the traffic you wanted.

It’s really quite amazing who you can target with PPC advertising. You can target by age, income, marital status, education level, and anything else you can imagine.


If you are short on capital, then organic traffic might be your best option. But even those with just a little bit of capital can get something out of PPC.

That said, if you want to generate a lot of leads in a short time frame, you might have to put down some serious cash. The good news is that with paid ads, you can turn them off as soon as you have what you need.


Really, there isn’t a “versus” at all. These are both great methods of bringing traffic to your site. The best campaigns actually take advantage of both organic traffic and paid traffic.

Are you looking for help determine the best online marketing strategy for your business? Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. 

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