March 23, 2021 (Updated: October 19, 2023)
Organic search results are those that come from simply typing in an area of interest. The results come from algorithms that are not impacted by advertising in any way. They are set apart from sponsored results that have pay-per-click ads or results in which the search engine is paid for showing certain results or gets money for each click gained.
There are many different search engines available and many of them insert advertising onto the search page results. You might simply want the best answer to the question you have typed in, but instead, you might get something that a company has paid the search engine to show you. By law, advertising must be distinguished from organic results. That can be done with different backgrounds, link colors, page placement, text, etc. But surveys have shown that most users don’t know how to tell the difference between the two.
If you were to search a certain term, you may feel like any result you get is a result, plain and simple. According to the PEW Research Center, most users felt that way as far back as 2012. The term “organic” came up in order to distinguish non-ad search results from those that are paid.
Search engines, like Google, claim that users click organic search results more than ads, which encourages people to search as they always have. And the same research shows that those looking for information may have a bias against ads and click on organic things because they know it is unpaid. Some even avoid results that they understand to be ads.
A study in 2013 showed that most searchers don’t go beyond the first page of search results when looking for something specific. The search engine optimization industry, also known as SEO, uses that research to justify trying to make websites organic search-friendly through their content so they come up sooner in the free search results.
Users have found ways to prevent ads with search results through browser add-ons and various plug-ins while many websites have moved to organic SEO tactics instead of paying for ads, which can be avoided.
There are many different search results and most digital marketers have kept things simple over the years. Organic traffic is considered to be visits from search engine results while direct traffic is website visits by people who have typed the exact company URL into their browser. But there are a lot of other ways to gain access to traffic on a website through searches. Here are some terms that digital marketers need to understand and differentiate:
These sources have an unknown referrer or source. The person visiting the website may have seen a billboard and got interested in the company. They may have gotten a recommendation from a friend. The company will never know, most likely, what brought that user to their site as they simply typed the company website URL into the browser to make their visit.
If the company sent out an email, they can tell that the website user visited their site because they clicked on a link through that email. The email marketing has to be properly tagged, but it’s a good way to see that the emails are working.
Anyone who needs a certain product or service might search for that item within a search engine. They could then be directed to a certain company’s website. The results, when they are organic, are unpaid and just bring the company up based on the fact that the general algorithms believe the user might be interested in that site for information.
Many marketers pay search engines to have their websites come up earlier in the search when certain words are used. When someone clicks on the site through those searches, the search engine is paid. The website may not be the absolute perfect source, but they do have to fall in the same lines of interest to come up.
These users come to the website when they find information about the site on another website. Perhaps you have another company in another city and they visit that website and get referred to you in their local area. Maybe you have a deal with other websites for cross-promotions. The user finds information about you and clicks through to your site from another website.
Users who make it to your website through social media accounts have likely clicked on something you have posted to get to your site.
So, which type of traffic are you getting on your website? It is likely a combination of many different types of traffic, but each company needs to decide where they want to concentrate on trying to bring more users into the fold.
Organic search traffic is usually where inbound marketing areas want to increase users. This traffic is from users who are asking for certain things through a search engine and there are no ads to direct such traffic. People generally trust search engines and saying things like “Google it” when they are trying to find out certain information has become the norm.
Lots of things can infuse organic search results such as offline campaigns, displays in a store, cross-marketing, SEO content, and more. But gaining access to more organic traffic can be a struggle as clicks are often lost to websites that give paid search results to the search engine.
While there are gray areas, even with organic searches and traffic, most organic traffic is driven by SEO. Websites will get a better rank based on the keywords they use in the right areas. Websites that consistently and creatively use content will be more optimized for that search. They will then see a steady rate of organic search traffic and a better position in the search engine if they were to search for themselves.
If you work in marketing and you want to include organic traffic onto the company website, it is important to look at high-ranking pages that are like yours and identify SEO keywords. Those may change over time and there might be different words to incorporate on a monthly basis.
The best way to tell what kind of traffic your website is getting, and where you can improve, is to keep tabs on the data you get on traffic for that site. It’s a great way to take the temperature of your company and how it is doing in the online searching world. You might get most of your traffic from emails, so you want to keep that up, but there may be areas of struggle that you’d like to increase, and there are plenty of ways you can do that. But before you dive into any certain plan, it’s best to correlate your efforts with a return on your investment, both in time and in any money you might spend. You need to look at long-term traffic numbers as well as those you see right in front of you for the last week or two.
You might have the best branding on the market, but if no one sees it, does it really do your company any good? No matter how innovative you are being, your message needs to be seen to make a difference. If you are able to get your website to come up first when people search for companies of your type in Google, you will get 33% of the traffic, according to the Digital Marketing Institute. Boosting the ranking of your website is huge and can be an essential part of growing your business.
While paid ads can increase search ranking, they can’t give you continued success like organic traffic can. But there are ways to increase your organic search traffic to give you the results you want. Here are a few examples.
Before you work on boosting your website’s organic traffic, you need to know where you currently stand in the search results. That will help you have the information you need to see improvements and know what works and what doesn’t. You can use tools that check site ranks, even based on certain keywords. Once you have that information, you can monitor the details as you make changes to improve the ranking.
Once you know where your page ranks and the range you want to be in as you head into the future, you will want to figure out what keywords you want to start with and then refine those over time. Try to choose the most relevant words for the site to bring in related traffic that will then increase the page ranking and your overall success. When you get the right target keywords based on what you are trying to sell, the message you communicate will improve and you’ll see a big improvement in the organic search rankings and ratings.
Finding the right keywords can take some trial and error because you will want the ones that are the most successful for your type of business. You can look at trends that help you to see what searches are the most popular, which can help you find keywords that might work for your business.
By having a persona on your website, they are generally anywhere from 2-5 times more effective with consumers. Customers are able to get their needs met, either by you or by another company. It pays to produce high-quality content that educates, but is also personal. Creating content with a human being in mind instead of just SEO will give your content a chance at being shared. When it is relevant to your potential customers, it will rank even better than something that just stuffs in a bunch of keywords.
Copy appeals to people when they have an interest in certain topics and as a result, good copy on websites will make the site rank higher in the searches. That being said, the copy also has to have clear headlines with keywords and anchor texts that will draw the consumer back in. Good copywriting is a key to using keywords in a natural way that makes sense and boosts search ratings. You are humanizing your brand, creating a customer experience, and making the search engines happy to boost your rankings.
HTML tags are valuable pieces that need to be structured in the right way in order to get the organic results you want for your website. A title tag, or headline, should be a description of the page’s content and no two of them should ever be the same as the search engines do not like duplication. Title tags should be under 70 characters with a keyword near the start of the title. You might also want to include your brand keyword to boost the authority of the brand, when possible.
Meta descriptions don’t factor directly into your organic search engine traffic, but they do have an impact if they are well written. Having a small snippet, or a sales copy, of what the reader might see on your webpage if they were to click through can entice them to do just that. You might get more clicks, which can give you a higher ranking, which helps your overall goal. Using target keywords in the description will cause search engines to place them in bold, which will make the page more eye-catching to those interested in those words. Every meta description should be 160 characters (with spaces) or less and they should contain keywords.
Anchor texts help search engines determine what page you are linking to and what it is all about. When you link to something in an article in any way, you should use the variation of the keywords that are relevant to that page. Instead of just saying click here, you can include a link based on the keyword.
Some say that SEO is a dark art, but once you discover the secrets, there are simple steps any company can take to improve organic search rankings. The problem is, there are no quick and dirty, fast-track ways to get that authority in the search engines. It takes strategy, thoughtfulness, and good SEO practices in order to get to that first search position. When you are ready to take strides, here are a few things to begin doing as you build your website’s organic results:
If you haven’t identified keywords yet, do so. For a plumber, you might include things like pipe repair, plumbing problems, emergency plumbing, and other things that people might search pertaining to your business. Once you decide what keywords you want, you have to improve those words on your site. Perhaps sprinkle the words throughout the site and then, start a blog that you change on a regular basis, perhaps even weekly or more. You can write articles about those keywords, using them even more to heighten your search ranking. Not only do you have to have keywords in play, but the content has to change on a regular basis.
You’re never going to know what works and what doesn’t unless you start to track and monitor the results you are getting. There’s nothing wrong with starting slow as long as you are building in the right direction. If you decide to put out a weekly blog with a keyword, see how much traffic that brings in through the organic market. Perhaps you like what you see and you decide to do blogs twice a week to get another uptick. Trying little things in a slow nature will show you what works. If you try lots of things at once, you might get a big bump, but you may not know why and that makes the success hard to repeat later.
Go to the search engines yourself and see what organic results you get with the keywords you want to target. Then, go ahead and click through. What are those websites doing that you aren’t? Do they have hundreds of blogs with tons of information? Do they have lots of pages to click through, all of which include the keyword? Study what is working for websites that are ranking high in your area and then try to repeat their success in your own unique way. You need to remain relevant to your consumer while figuring out what works.
How often do you visit a website on your computer at home? And how often do you visit sites from your mobile device? More and more people are searching the web through mobile devices over using desktops and that makes being mobile-friendly in any website you create something that is very important to organic search results. Search engines have the capability of indexing sites based on their mobile-friendliness — and guess what? Those that work well on mobile devices are going to come out higher. If your website is the same as a competitor, but not as mobile-friendly, you lose out because they will come up higher in the ranks on mobile devices.
Plus, even if you rank high, most users who visit your site on their devices will leave if they aren’t mobile-friendly. So you might get some clicks through organic search engine traffic, but you will get a large bounce rate as well. It’s in your site’s best interest, and in the best interest of the organic search result goals you have, to make sites that are highly mobile-friendly.
If you are just starting out with a new website, you might want to consider organically including the local city or other such names in the URL to help boost your organic results. Google and other search engines love domains that include locations in their URL. If you have a salon in Dallas, for example, you might name your website DallasHaircutSalon.com in order to get the local name into the URL. If you already have a website, you can replace it with a name that will rank higher. You can also keep your old domain and simply use a 301 redirect to send people to the new name.
As you build a brand, a new company, or re-invent an old product or service, you might wonder whether organic search results are really important to your success. In a word, yes. You want to advertise in the right places and you don’t have to pay in order to get your name to pop up well in the searches. Plus, consumers prefer results that aren’t based on paid ads. They feel they are getting what they really need or want, and not something someone paid to show them. It’s important.
There are a lot of websites to monitor, plenty of keyword options, and SEO content to create. But if organic search engine traffic is the ultimate goal, it can do a lot for the amount of potential customers and clients you see directed to your website. And, face it, the internet is here to stay, and searching for companies is only going to get more crowded as time passes. Optimizing your strategy for organic search results sooner rather than later is in your best interest and can solidify your brand as something that is tried and true in whatever industry you work within. Organic search results are the key to bringing people to your site in a way that will make you feel like a trustworthy source to meet their needs.
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