Organic Traffic vs Paid Traffic

What’s the best way to increase targeted traffic to your website, your products, and services?

In theory, people either find you on Google, on social media, or through a paid advertisement of some kind.

Once you zoom in and taking a closer look at all of these options, you’ll notice that each of them requires some patience and persistence.

Personally, I’m a big fan of organic traffic. I’m talking about organic search results. Using that method, I was able to get the attention of many influential people in my marketplace.

Yes, I had something of substance to offer. I brought value to the table. They enjoyed the content I produced and so on. Without that, people just pass you by.

In my local, offline marketplace, my business has primarily grown through referrals. This also fits into the “organic traffic” classification.

The problem with all the above is – ORGANIC TAKES TIME.

How Much Time Do You Really Have?

This is a tough question. Can you afford to take the organic path? Sure, your content (a video, article, podcast episode, etc.) can go viral. People can share something you produce en masse.

That, too, is organic – but it’s usually not the first thing that comes to mind. The first thing that comes to mind is a process that takes months (possibly even a few years) to produce results.

If you’re in a popular niche, you know what I’m talking about.

Everyone and their brother, it seems, is creating content that’s similar.

That said, I’ve seen people grind it out and simply outlast their competition. That approach isn’t too popular because it takes commitment, focus, and the ability to overcome a variety of discouraging feelings, self-doubt and everything else. If that sounds more like life than business – that’s where the intersection happens.

Your financial situation, however, may dictate the need for a different approach. One that leads you through the pay-to-play gate. I’m talking about BUYING your way onto whatever stage you’d like to be seen on.

In this article, I want to look at the pros and cons of both approaches and give you a few insights that can help you make the best choice for your business.

Advertising Your Services

As you already know, advertising isn’t cheap. Sure, it’s all relative, but I’m looking at the average, online business owner. That’s someone who can’t easily part with $5,000 to get the ball rolling.

Today, there are platforms that allow you to flip the advertising switch on and off, based on your needs, budget, and so on.

Keep in mind, behind all of this – we’re in the midst of an attention battle. Everyone wants your attention. Why all the clickbait? People want you on THEIR platforms and THEIR websites because that’s where THEIR advertisers place the ads that keep the lights on.

It’s really not rocket science. That’s how Facebook ads grew so quickly. Advertisers know people are spending time on Facebook so that’s where they’re placing their ads.

That’s changed over the last few months, however. Google has now surpassed Facebook in the “time/attention” battle. Perhaps it’s the negative press coupled with a few other things?

If you’re selling online services, your approach to advertising may be a little bit different.

What Kind of Content Should You Produce?

You can use Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn to advertise your design services to business owners within your same zip code. The chances are, they’re not interested in reading a long blog post unless it solves a direct problem they have.

Valuable content, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Think about some of your clients. Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you’re them opening the store, shop, restaurant or office early in the morning.

What kind of stress do they deal with? What kind of challenges are they facing today? When you get a feel for that, it’s a lot easier to answer the question, “What type of advertisement might get their attention?”

Maybe all you need is a simple ad that leads to a short video where you offer your services?

In other words, don’t make the advertisement all about you. Make it all about them. It takes deeper pockets to do it effectively if you decide to put yourself first. You have a few seconds to get their attention. Make those first few seconds about them, not you.

Ad Platforms Aren’t Difficult to Use

Google and all the different social media platforms are a lot easier to use if you’re targeting businesses within a specific area or region. Starting with the “low-hanging fruit” approach is an easier way to get started.

You can attract clients in your hometown or home city easier than you can attract clients from afar. It’s the trust factor we’re dealing with here.

Getting back to the platforms, they’re all designed to be user-friendly these days. So don’t be intimidated. The key to success is knowing who you’re talking to and designing your ad specifically for them.

The advertisement, in my opinion, is simply an invitation to come inside and see the offering.

The ad platforms can be used to deliver the invitations to businesses within your local marketplace.

That’s the approach I’d advise a beginner to take.

The Best Way to Learn Advertising

We’re talking about paid traffic right now. We’re looking at the basics. Like any subject, there’s a lot of information out there. First a quick question, what’s the easiest way to learn what can be a complex subject?

Think about your own skill set for a minute. Could you be successful just sticking with the basics? Really think about it. If you stuck with the basics on your next project, would it fail without adding the bells and whistles?

My belief is, everything gets done faster and more efficiently by sticking to the basics. Then, when moving forward to the next phase, your personal experience and real-time results help you intelligently with your next move.

Consider the alternative. You start with a lot of moving parts and theories leading up to your ad campaign. If it doesn’t get results, you have a lot of things to troubleshoot after the fact, don’t you?

I’ve heard more than just a few experts say, “When things start to break down and stop working, it’s time to get back to the basics.” You may find that sticking with the basics is all you really need.

2nd Chance Advertising

How many times do you have to be exposed to an advertisement before it really sinks in? Thirty years ago, the magic number was 7. That means the average person would have to be exposed to the same advertisement seven times before the message sunk in.

Several years ago, I remember reading that number had now doubled.

I use coupons for products (mostly food) I buy all the time. About 50% of the time, I lose them, misplace them, or forget about them until they expire.

Yes, I need a half-dozen chances to get it right!

If I were advertising to me, I’d know right from the start, “We’re going to have to plan on targeting this guy with ads at least a half-dozen times before he pulls the trigger.”

Fortunately, with online advertising, we can retarget people. We can give them multiple chances and opportunities to say, YES.

When someone visits your site, you know they were at least a little bit interested in learning more about what you offer. Just because they left without taking any kind of action doesn’t mean they rejected your offers. Maybe they needed some time to think about it?

Maybe the right time is after they deposit their next paycheck?

Retargeting has become a favorite tool for paid advertisers because it gives them multiple chances to reconnect with you after you visit their site.

Tracking Pixels

A tracking pixel is a piece of code you place on your site that triggers a cookie (a text file with information) about the visitor viewing your site. The cookie uses simple Javascript that allows the ad network (Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to identify you when you visit other sites. It will then serve up the relevant ad when the site you’re visiting participates with that network.

In plain English, you have another chance to show your advertisements to the person who visited your site, after they leave.

This is a way to automate the repeated exposure process. TV ads are brutal when it comes to this. Sometimes you see the same ad over and over and over again. It’s annoying, but it works.

Organic Traffic

For the last twenty years, I’ve primarily used an SEO based content strategy. It sounds more complex than it is. Here’s how it works – you write a whole bunch of content about your topic. Then, you let Google do their thing.

I hate to put this writing, but I think it’s important to add – I’ve broken more than just a few “SEO Rules” over the years and still made it to the first page in my niche. It happened because I had good content.

I didn’t bother with backlinks, meta tags, or any of the other things most of the experts suggest. I’m not advising you to do the same. I’m just pointing out the fact that – when you’re sincerely trying to help people via your content, Google is smart enough to figure it out.

Over the years, my content has led to interviews with some of the top media outlets in the United States. Yes, you can rise to the top with good content alone if you stick with it.

Organic Traffic with Text Content

They say people don’t read blog content like they used to. According to researchers, there’s also a drop in social media activity. It’s a sizeable one, too.

That’s why, in my opinion, this is the perfect time to really dig in and create rich, impactful content on your own domain. It works like a simple investment strategy. You buy low and sell high. You invest in something people aren’t paying attention to knowing that when they do, the value will suddenly skyrocket.

It’s called the long game. This is something your competition probably won’t be willing to do themselves. Most are looking for the fastest return on their investment.

With this method, you can methodically climb the rankings. Having a high search engine ranking and getting free traffic is the key.

If you really want to be found by thousands upon thousands of people from around the world, this method works. The search engine gurus at Google have verified this throughout the years.

Build deep before you build wide.

Organic Traffic through Social Media

I have an adblocker browser extension that eliminates 99% of the Facebook ads that are pitched in my direction. I know, I know. If this were a sport, I’d be red-carded and sent to the showers early.

I like buying new things as much as anyone else, but I don’t want to be interrupted or distracted by one ad after another.

Social media is a great way to connect with people. I hate to overuse the word “organic,” but it implies a natural state of growth that isn’t forced. Today, almost everything seems forced, doesn’t it?

You can’t really force relationships with people and get good results. They develop over time. This is where, I believe, people miss out. They try to force something and when it doesn’t work, they give up on it.

Changing Lives

I believe each of us has the opportunity to make an impact in the world around us and change some lives in the process. Business is a vehicle that, among other things, connects you with people you wouldn’t have otherwise been connected to.

There’s an old saying that “life happens” as we’re busying making our plans. That’s “organic” in action! One conversation can help change the course of a person’s life. It can impact their perspective, bring them to a place where they’ll make better choices, and so on.

“Organic” is a label we use for descriptive purposes. I believe people are growing weary of the non-organic alternatives which continue to grow in number. People are hungry for something real. You can provide that if you’re willing to go the extra mile. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

Summing it Up

Both methods work. It comes down to personal preference, budget, and whether or not the market is open to your message at any given point in time. One method takes an extra investment in time, while the other the extra investment in money.

Let me encourage you to take enough time to learn one method thoroughly. Take a year (it’s not as long as it sounds) and focus on mastering one method, one way, one approach. Don’t allow yourself to jump from thing to thing like most people do, doing a little here and a little there.

You’ll never get very far that way. It’s like going in one big circle. Refocus and get back to your “one method” approach again and see it through.

I hope this helped you? Feel free to share your thoughts, insights, and musings on this topic below!

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Jim Galiano

Jim Galiano is an Internet consultant, web developer, author and podcaster who started doing business online in 1998. His consulting, marketing and publicity services have been used worldwide since 2002. Jim has been interviewed by a variety of media sources including the Wall Street Journal and CBS News in New York.

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About Jim

Jim Galiano is an Internet consultant, web developer, author and podcaster who started doing business online in 1998. His consulting, marketing and publicity services have been used worldwide since 2002.

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