Apr 21 2008

The Tipping Point: When Organic Traffic Surpasses Paid Search Traffic

Category: generalTom Shivers


So you have a new business and, to keep expenses down and ROI up, you use the Internet to find new customers or clients. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the best investment, but it normally takes 3 to 6 months to see top rankings. Since you must have customers to stay afloat, you want immediate and qualified prospects to come to your site. So what you need right now is paid search (pay-per-click advertising). And implementing both SEO and paid search simultaneously can give your business an irresistible one-two advantage.

When paid search is the main source of new customers, you have to maximize the ROI from your immediate – yet pricey – web visitors. How? By clearly communicating with the most desired prospect whose problem you can solve, and who is willing, able and ready to engage now.

Yes, there is a method to this madness:

  1. Know the mindset of your online audience when they search.
  2. Increase the click-through-rate of your ad.
  3. Increase the conversion rate of your landing page/s.
  4. Measure and track the results so you can improve.

When you understand what your web visitors are looking for, what motivates them and makes them tick, you then have the power to keep them engaged…if you take that knowledge to the next level by implementing web content that thrills your audience. Yes, that can be hard work – but check out the rewards:

  • You now have a following who talks about your site for free.
  • You get referrals and links from great sources.
  • Your site has the relevant and engaging content it needs to rank high in the search engines.

When your website engages your online audience like this, gaining top organic search rankings is a piece of cake because your site is riding a wave of momentum that comes from satisfied customers. It normally takes 3-6 months to begin seeing top organic rankings for competitive search terms, so now is the time to experiment with the most effective ways to engage the audience that comes from your paid search efforts.

Here’s a couple web analytics graphs showing organic traffic overtaking paid search traffic, aka The Tipping Point:

This graph shows four weeks of steady traffic from Google Adwords:

paid search traffic

This graph shows the same four weeks of organic search traffic. Notice the tipping point in the second week:

non paid traffic, organic SEO traffic

Typically, when this occurs, the conversion rate also increases because searchers find the site in a more credible area of the search results page.

When organic search engine rankings are the main source of new visitors, you have to experiment and test for maximum conversions using a variation of this approach.

As you see the most-wanted response from your web visitors being delivered consistently, it makes sense to cut back on paid search – especially for keywords that your site is dominating in the organic search rankings. Consider cutting paid search keywords that:

  • Have an unclear or not-focused intent
  • Have high bounce rates
  • Deliver low average time on site
  • Garner low pages per visit results

Obviously, you’ll want to keep the paid search keywords that are very focused and have purchase intent. If you cut and keep the right paid search keywords, you should not notice a change in conversions. But you will notice an increase in ROI at the same time. In other words, you pay the least amount to get the greatest return. And after all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

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One Response to “The Tipping Point: When Organic Traffic Surpasses Paid Search Traffic”

  1. Chris says:

    Interesting post, keep the good stuff coming, good content appreciated!