When someone lands on your website after an online search, you’re benefiting from organic traffic. This type of visitor engagement is worth prioritizing. Although paid advertising can yield immediate results, organic reach through search engines fosters sustainable long-term growth.
While ecommerce store owners value organic traffic, many are unsure how to boost it—particularly in the ever-changing search landscape. Basic search engine optimization (SEO) strategies can help, but maximizing organic reach requires more than on-page optimization and backlinks. Here’s what organic traffic is, why it’s valuable for businesses, and actionable tips to drive organic traffic to your website.
What is organic traffic?
Organic traffic refers to visitors who arrive on your website through unpaid (“organic”) search engine results from Google, Bing, and other search engines—rather than paid advertising or other referral methods. Organic traffic relies on your site’s ability to rank in search results—i.e., achieve high search rankings—through relevant keywords, high-quality content, and adherence to SEO best practices.
If your site ranks organically for terms people search for, it will gain traffic when users click on your link on the search engine results page (SERP). In contrast, paid search ads require you to pay to rank on a search results page.
Benefits of organic traffic
Organic search brings visitors by aligning your content with search queries. It’s a long-term strategy that requires consistent effort, but it can deliver results that compound over time.
Some of the benefits of organic traffic include:
- Cost-effective growth. Organic traffic can help you get more website visitors without paying per click, making it an inexpensive growth channel.
- Brand awareness. Ranking for valuable search terms and appearing prominently in results helps establish brand awareness, visibility, and authority.
- Sustainable results. Organic rankings can deliver consistent traffic month after month as you build authority, unlike paid search traffic which stops when ads are paused.
- Increased revenue. More organic traffic can boost revenue and return on investment (ROI) without cutting into profit margins like paid ads do.
Factors that influence organic traffic
- On-page SEO
- Technical SEO
- Keyword research and content strategy
- Link building
- Search algorithm changes
Many factors determine how much organic traffic your site receives. Here are the main elements to consider:
On-page SEO involves optimizing web page elements to signal to search engines that your content matches user intent for target keywords. Important on-page SEO factors include:
- Page titles. Titles should contain primary keywords but not be too long.
- URL structure. URLs should be short, keyword-rich, and easy for search engines to understand.
- Headings. Headings tag content must include relevant keywords.
- Content. Robust content with organically integrated keywords enhances page ranking.
Beyond page-level optimization, technical SEO tools can affect organic traffic. Site-wide technical improvements include:
- Site architecture. Easy navigation and logical information architecture help search bots crawl your site
- Responsive web design. A mobile-friendly, responsive website—like the responsive templates provided by Shopify—is now a requirement to rank high
- Site speed. Faster overall site speed increases organic rankings
- Security. SSL certificates, HTTPS, and other security measures give search engines confidence in your site
Keyword research and content strategy
A keyword research strategy and optimized content can attract users searching for relevant topics. Here are different content factors to include in your strategy:
- Targeted content. Publish blog and video content that targets relevant buyer keywords
- Optimized content. Optimize existing content for search intent and high-volume searches
- Long-tail content. Expand your keyword footprint by covering related long tail keywords (e.g., “Chelsea boots” vs. “Chelsea boots in black size 11”)
Getting quality sites to link back to your content with organic anchor text links shows search engines your content is authoritative. But not all backlinks are of equal value.
Here are factors to consider when link building:
- Relevance. Links from sites in your niche with topical relevance help establish authority, an indication of a webpage’s overall quality
- Trust. Links from highly trusted, well-established sites confer more authority
- Popularity. Links from popular, high-traffic sites convey more value
- Diversity. Getting links from diverse quality sites looks natural to search engines
- Anchor text. Organic and varied anchor text helps send strong ranking signals
Search algorithm changes
Search engines like Google regularly change how their algorithms rank websites. For example, Google rolled out several major updates in 2022 focused on improving relevance by boosting sites with expertise, author authority, and helpful information.
Organic traffic vs. direct traffic
Direct traffic refers to visitors who arrive at your site by clicking a bookmarked link or by typing in your URL without using search engines. Here’s how direct and organic traffic converge and differ:
- How they’re similar. Both organic and direct traffic involve people coming straight to your website URL.
- How they’re different. Organic traffic is driven by rankings on search engines when people look up relevant keywords, whereas direct comes from manually entering your site’s URL (or clicking on a bookmark) without a referral source.
- How they’re similar. Both organic and direct traffic involve visitors actively choosing to go to your website.
- How they’re different. Organic traffic generally consists of visitors with specific informational or transactional needs, actively searching for solutions. Direct traffic, on the other hand, shows varied intent. These could be visitors who are already familiar with your brand and are just checking in, returning visitors, or those who specifically seek out your website by manually entering the URL, often indicating a high level of intent.
- How they’re similar. Neither organic nor direct requires your business to pay for traffic per se.
- How they’re different. Organic traffic, however, does require constant SEO efforts to rank well and drive traffic. This does cost money. Direct traffic happens when people bookmark or remember your URL.
- How they’re similar. Digital marketing and branding efforts can encourage both organic and direct traffic growth.
- How they’re different. You can optimize your pages and content to boost organic rankings, but you have little control over whether people bookmark or directly visit your URL.
Quality of user engagement
- How they’re similar. Both organic and direct traffic can result in valuable user actions like conversions and sales.
- How they’re different. Organic traffic often signifies users who are actively searching for a solution and find your content to meet that need, which may result in more focused engagement. Direct traffic includes visits from people already familiar with your brand or website, leading to varying levels of engagement that may not necessarily be intent-driven.
- How they’re similar. Organic and direct sources appear as categories in website analytics tools, such as Google Analytics or SEMrush.
- How they’re different. Organic traffic allows you to see which specific search terms and rankings led users to your website. In contrast, direct traffic does not offer insights into the keywords used or the sources that drove the traffic.
How to track organic traffic
Before trying to increase your organic traffic, learn how to track it using web analytics software like Google Analytics or Semrush. Examining data within these tools can provide insights to boost search traffic.
Here’s how to find organic traffic in Google Analytics:
1. Go to your Google Analytics account and navigate to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels.
2. Under the Organic Search channel, you’ll see your total organic traffic metrics like users, new users, sessions, bounce rate, and more.
3. To see keyword details, go to Acquisition > Search Console > Queries, where you’ll find the keywords driving traffic to your website.
Here’s how to find organic traffic in SEMrush:
1. Enter your domain in the SEMrush search bar and click “Organic Research” on the overview page of your domain.
2. Go to the “Positions” tab on the “Organic Research” page to see your website’s organic traffic and keyword rankings. You can filter by keyword, location, device, and more.
3. Click on any keyword to open the full search engine results pages (SERP) analysis. Scroll down to the search traffic section to see the estimated monthly organic traffic to your site for this keyword.
Strategies for increasing your website’s organic traffic
- Create content that targets relevant keywords
- Prioritize search intent in content
- Earn high-quality backlinks
- Improve website speed and performance
- Fix technical errors on your website
- Optimize on-site engagement
- Research your competitors
- Target long-tail keywords
- Stay on top of SEO trends
Increasing organic traffic requires significant effort, but it pays off in the long term. Here are proven tactics to get more organic search visitors:
Create relevant content that targets relevant keywords
Research high search volume and commercial keywords that align with your products using tools like Google Keyword Planner. Incorporate relevant keywords naturally into on-site content, such as blog posts and product descriptions to target searchers’ intent and draw in qualified leads. You can also update or enhance older or thin content.
Prioritize search intent in content
Understand searcher intent for your target keywords using Google Search Console data; analyze click-through rates, impressions, and user behavior patterns to identify the primary goals and interests of users searching for those keywords.
Craft content that addresses the questions and needs indicated by search queries. This can improve your rankings for terms with high commercial search intent—i.e., search phrases that indicate a strong likelihood that the user is actively looking to make a purchase.
Earn high-quality backlinks
Getting other websites to link back to your site reinforces your relevance and authority to search engines. Try to earn relevant links from quality sites to improve search rankings and organic search traffic. Use PR outreach and guest posting strategies to build links from reputable industry blogs and newsletters.
Improve website speed and performance
Fast page load times and mobile optimization create a positive user experience that search engines reward. Compress images, eliminate unnecessary code, and optimize hosting to reduce bandwidth and deliver quick results users expect. Test site speed regularly and set performance goals to maintain your rankings.
Fix technical errors on your website
Broken links, crawl errors, and mobile site flaws can hurt rankings. Identify and resolve site technical problems to improve organic search performance. Set up alerts to flag new errors that may arise.
Optimize on-site engagement
Compelling content presentation and clear navigation help visitors interact with your site longer, signaling relevance to search engines. Include related links and effective calls to action (CTAs) to boost time on site. Track key engagement metrics in your analytics tool to identify areas for improvement.
Research your competitors
See what successful sites in your niche do to rank well organically. Study their keywords, content, links, and optimization strategies to identify new opportunities to outperform them with your SEO.
Target long-tail keywords
Ranking gets easier for specific long-tail phrases with lower competition. Optimize for these search terms early to gain traffic while pursuing more difficult short-tail keywords long-term.
Stay on top of SEO trends
Search engine algorithms are constantly evolving. Keep learning about new factors like page experience, content depth, expert authorship, and more to adapt your SEO strategy and maintain strong organic search traffic. Follow industry blogs and podcasts, testing new techniques as they emerge.
Organic traffic FAQ
Is organic traffic free?
Organic traffic doesn’t require paying for clicks as in paid advertising, but generating it often involves investing in content creation, SEO strategies, and other best practices. If you lack the time or expertise to manage these elements, consider hiring a consultant.
How do you identify organic traffic?
Organic traffic is typically identified by using analytics tools to track website visitors who arrive via an organic search engine result, rather than as a result of paid advertising or other promotional efforts.
Can organic traffic have a long-lasting impact on a website’s visibility?
Yes. Consistent organic traffic can enhance a website’s authority and visibility, leading to long-term benefits in search engine rankings.
Is it possible to increase organic traffic without technical knowledge or coding skills?
Yes. Although technical SEO is helpful, strategies like content creation, keyword research, and building backlinks can increase organic traffic without technical expertise.
Does organic traffic have a higher conversion rate than other traffic types?
Organic traffic can often have a higher conversion rate than other types because these visitors are actively searching for information or solutions, indicating a higher intent to engage or purchase.