Organic traffic can be a website’s most valuable source of visitors. But it can also be the hardest form of traffic to acquire. While paid ads can generate traffic almost instantly, you need to invest time and energy into growing traffic from search engines.
And it all starts with understanding exactly what organic traffic is.
If you want to understand what organic traffic is, how to measure it and how to generate more of it, then this article is for you.
What is organic traffic?
Organic traffic is the visitors your website receives from the unpaid results on search engines like Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo.
The higher your website ranks in the search engine results pages and the more search terms your website ranks for, the more organic traffic your site will receive.
Organic traffic is highly valued by marketers, partly because it has a much higher clickthrough rate than PPC ads. Research shows the top organic result has a 39.8% CTR compared to just 2.1% for paid ads.
So, while you can pay to appear at the top of search engines (using a platform like Google Ads, for instance), you probably won’t receive as much traffic as you would if you were to rank organically in the same search engine.
What other types of traffic are there?
Organic traffic isn’t the only type of traffic your website can get. You can also receive traffic from the following channels:
People familiar with your site may visit it directly, either by entering your URL into their browser or accessing it through a bookmarked link; both scenarios are counted as direct traffic.
Social traffic includes visits to your website from a social media platform. For example, if someone shares a link to your website on Facebook, any user who clicks on it will be counted as social traffic.
Social media isn’t the only way for someone to share a link to your website. Any time a visitor finds your website by clicking on a link on another website, it will be counted as “websites”. This is also known as referral traffic on some analytics platforms.
Campaign traffic encompasses both paid and unpaid traffic sources. Paid sources include advertising on search engines and social media (also known as PPC or pay-per-click), as well as collaborations with influencers and sponsorships. Unpaid sources, such as your organisation’s email newsletters, cross-promotions with other businesses and other similar methods, are also part of this mix.
In simpler terms, it’s the traffic you deliberately direct to your site, and you utilise campaign tracking URLs to measure how these efforts impact your ROI.
A word on multi-touch attribution
If you are interested in learning more about types of traffic to track conversions, then it’s important to understand multi-touch attribution. The truth is most customers won’t just use a single traffic channel to find your website. In reality, the modern customer journey has multiple touchpoints, and customers may first find your site through an ad and then search for more about your brand on Google before going directly to your website.
You are at risk of under or overestimating the effectiveness of a marketing channel without using multi-touch attribution tracking. With this marketing analytics model, you can accurately weigh the impact of every channel and allocate budgets accordingly.
What are the benefits of organic traffic?
Getting more organic traffic is a common marketing goal for many companies. And it’s not surprising why. There’s a lot to love about organic traffic.
For starters, it’s arguably the most cost-effective traffic your site can receive. You will still need to pay to create and distribute organic content (whether it’s a blog post or product page). You don’t need to pay for it to show up in a search engine. You continue to get value from organic traffic long after you’ve created the page, too. A good piece of organic content can receive high volumes of monthly visitors for years. That’s a stark difference from paid ads, where traffic stops as soon as you turn off the ad.
It also puts your website in front of a massive audience, with Google alone processing over 3.5 billion searches every day. There’s a good chance that if your target audience is looking for a solution to their problems, they start with Google.
Organic traffic is fantastic at building brand awareness. Usually, users aren’t searching for a specific brand or company. They are searching for informational keywords (“how to brew the perfect cup of coffee”) or unbranded transactional keywords (“best home workout machine”). In both cases, customers can use search engines to become aware of your brand.
Finally, organic traffic brings in high-quality leads at every marketing funnel stage. Because users are searching for informational and transactional keywords, your site can receive visits from buyers at every stage of the marketing funnel, giving you multiple chances to convert them and helping to increase the number of touch points you have.
How to check your website’s organic traffic
You don’t need to complete complex calculations to determine your site’s organic traffic. A web analytics solution like Matomo will accurately measure your site’s organic traffic.
In Matomo, on the left-hand sidebar, you can access organic traffic data by clicking Acquisition and then selecting All Channels.
You’ll find a detailed breakdown of all traffic sources, including organic traffic, within the specified timeframe. The report is set to the current day by default, but you can view organic traffic metrics over a day, week, month, year or a date range of your choice.
If you want to take things further, you can get a detailed view of organic visitors by creating a custom report for “Visitors from Search Engines only.” By creating a custom report with the segment “Channel Type is search”, you’ll be able to combine other metrics like average actions per visit, bounce rate, goal conversions, etc., to create a comprehensive report on your organic traffic and the behavior of these visitors.
Matomo also lets you integrate Google, Bing and Yahoo search consoles directly into your Matomo Analytics to monitor keyword performance.
How to increase organic traffic
Follow these six tips if you want to increase the web traffic you get organically from search engines.
Create more and better content
Here’s the reality: Most websites don’t get much traffic from Google. Only 40% of sites rank on the first page, and just 23% sit in the top three results.
Let’s take quality first. The best content tends to rise to the top of search engines. That’s because it gets shared more, receives more backlinks and gets more user engagement. So, if you want to appear at the top of Google results, creating mediocre content probably won’t cut it. You need to go above and beyond what is already there.
But you can’t just create one fantastic piece of content and expect to receive thousands of visitors. You need multiple pages targeting as many search terms as possible. The more pages search engines index, the more opportunities you have to rank. Or, to put it another way, the more shots you take, the greater your chances of scoring.
Use keyword research tools
While creating great content is essential, you want to ensure that content targets the right keywords. These keywords receive a suitable amount of traffic and are easy to rank for.
Keyword research tools like Ahrefs of Semrush are the easiest way to find high-traffic topics to write about. Specifically, you want to aim for long-tail keywords. These are search terms that contain three or more words. Think “Nike men’s basketball shoe” rather than “basketball shoe.”
As you can see, long tail keywords have a lower monthly search volume (250 vs. 1,100 using the example above) than broad terms but are much easier to rank for (14 vs. 41 Keyword Difficulty).
The plugin automatically connects to APIs from all significant search engines and imports all the keywords people search for when clicking on your websites into your Matomo report.
If you find a cluster of keywords on the same topic that generates a lot of visitors, it may be worth creating even more content on that topic. Similarly, if there’s a topic you think you have covered but isn’t generating much traffic, you can look at revising and refreshing your existing content to try to rank higher.
Build high-quality backlinks
Backlinks are arguably the most important Google ranking factor and the primary way Google assesses the authoritativeness of your site and content. Backlinks strongly and positively correlate with traffic — at least according to 67.5% of respondents in a uSERP industry survey.
There are plenty of ways you can create high-quality backlinks that Google loves. Strategies include:
- Creating and promoting the best content about a given topic
- Guest posting on high-authority websites
- Building relationships with other websites
Ensure you avoid building low-quality spam links at all costs — such as private blog networks (PBNs), forum and comment spam links and directory links. These links won’t help your content to rank higher, and Google may even penalise your entire site if you build them.
Find and fix any technical Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) issues
Search engines like Google need to be able to quickly and accurately crawl and index your website to rank your content. Unfortunately, many sites suffer from technical issues that impede search engine bots.
The good news is that certain tools make these issues easy to spot. Take the Matomo SEO Web Vitals feature, for instance. This lets you track a set of core web vital metrics, including:
- Page Speed Score
- First Contentful Paint (FCP)
- Final Input Delay (FID)
- Last Contentful Paint (LCP)
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Take things even further by identifying major bugs and issues with your site. Crashes and other issues that impact user experience can also hurt your SEO and organic traffic efforts — so it’s best to eliminate them as soon as they occur.
Use Matomo’s Crash Analytics feature to get precise bug location information as well as the user’s interactions that triggered, the device they were using, etc. Scheduled reporting and alerts allow you to automate this task and instantly detect bugs as soon as they occur.
Improve your on-page SEO
As well as fixing technical issues, you should spend time optimising specific elements of your website to improve how it ranks in search engines.
There are several on-page elements you should optimise:
- Image alt tags
- Title tags
- Internal links
Your goal should be to include a target keyword in each element above. For example, your URL should be something like yoursite.com/keyword.
It’s best to err on the side of caution here. Avoid adding too many keywords to each of these elements. This is called keyword stuffing, and Google may slap your site with a penalty.
Track your content’s performance
One final way to increase organic traffic is to use an analytics platform to understand what content needs improving and which pages can be removed.
Use an analytics platform like Matomo to see which pages generate the most organic traffic and which lag behind. This can help you prioritise your SEO efforts while highlighting pages that add no value. These pages can be completely revamped, redirected to another page or removed if appropriate.
Organic traffic is arguably the most valuable traffic source your site can acquire. It is essential to monitor organic traffic levels and take steps to increase your organic traffic.
A good analytics platform can help you do both. Matomo’s powerful, open-source web analytics solution protects your data and your users’ privacy, while providing the SEO tools you need to send your organic traffic levels soaring.
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