Organic Traffic vs. Paid Traffic

Author: Jana Devan
May 08, 2021 • 5 minute read

Organic Traffic vs. Paid Traffic: Diving Into The Advantages and Disadvantages of Both

If we were to narrow down the primary driving force, the key performance indicator, the root of all digital marketing, we would land very quickly on one simple concept: traffic. 

Web traffic is what makes the world (wide web, that is) go round. 

Traffic itself describes the amount of data sent between visitors and a website. If you visit a website, spend some time reading the home page, check out an “about us” tab, and cruise through an online store, you’re creating web traffic. 

Web traffic makes up the majority of internet traffic (which covers the flow of data across the entire internet), and understanding its functionality is key to any digital marketer, whether you work with a mom-and-pop shop with a new website or Google itself. 

Web traffic is good, and your brand should want lots of it—and no, bot traffic doesn’t count. So we’re here to tell you all about organic traffic, paid traffic, and what might get the proverbial freeway of your digital footprint in a good old-fashioned traffic jam. 

What Is Organic Traffic?

If you want to talk semantics, “organic” means “relating to or derived from living matter,” (this definition has been brought to you by web traffic I just provided for Google). Technologically speaking, organic traffic just means that the data being sent by visitors to your site is not a result of paid advertising. 

Say you want to learn a new language. Your first step is probably going to a search engine and writing something like “language lessons” or “learn a new language” in the search bar. The first websites that populate are ads (and we’ll get to that later) and below them are the organic results. When you click one of those sites, you’re creating organic traffic. 

Those websites rank so high on search engines because they’re popular. This ranking is a result of a multitude of SEO (search engine optimization) factors. When you create an awesome website full of interesting content using many relevant keywords, the search engines push your site toward the top. When your site is closer to the top, you get more traffic, further supporting your page’s high rank. 

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Organic Traffic?


  • Cost-Effectiveness: organic traffic generation is free! You don’t have to pay for ads. You just have to work on your web content consistently. 
  • Evergreen Factor: organic traffic is evergreen in that once you’re at the top of the search engine, it’s easy to maintain your status as long as you continue employing the strategy that got you to the top.  
  • Reputation: businesses at the top of search engines are generally considered more trustworthy to people searching the web. 


  • Time Investment: organic traffic generation is a long-term game, it can take months or even years to crack the code of SEO, and it requires focus and energy to create lots of content. 

What Is Paid Traffic?

A few paragraphs ago, we mentioned that organic search results sit below paid ads. That is where the paid traffic is—right at the top of your search results. Paid traffic is almost always marked by some sort of notifier (often just the word Ad next to it), so you know that it’s paid. 

The way paid traffic works is simple: you spend money, so search engines throw your content at the top of search results related to your ad. People can see your ad and click it for as long as you pay for it to be there. 

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Paid Traffic?



  • Brevity: paid traffic is only good for as long as you’re willing to pay for it. After that, it disappears from that coveted top spot. 
  • Reputation: people know what’s happening when they see paid ads, and they understand that you didn’t work to get your site to the top of their results, potentially decreasing the sense of trust you’ve built between your brand and its consumer. 

What Should I Do For My Business?

Mastering web traffic is like walking on a tightrope suspended over a cliff—it’s a balancing act. 

We generally believe that paid ads can be a smart move, especially if your work is time-sensitive and your product and content is niched. Overall, though, organic traffic—and having the means to support it—is vital for a strong digital footprint. Cultivating and maintaining a digital space that gets people looking at your content and consistently returning to your site for more is a long-term strategy that is absolutely worth your time. 

Whether you’re looking to chat about traffic (the digital type, that is) or looking for a complete digital overhaul, we’re here to help, and we’d love to hear from you. Send us a message today!

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