There has been much debate on paid advertising versus organic traffic in recent years. Typically, marketers are deeply polarized between the two, being staunchly in favour of one, and being highly critical of the other.
However, the truth is that each of these approaches has benefits and disadvantages. Each approach is valuable in certain situation. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of paid advertising compared to growing organic traffic.
Pros of Paid Advertising
One of the great strengths of paid search and paid advertising is that anyone can use it.
Even if your business is entirely new, your website is barely up, or if your marketing strategy is still in its infancy, you can always launch some kind paid advertising campaign.
You also don’t need to have a load of contacts or an established reputation, making paid advertising an accessible option for everyone.
Paid advertising is also extremely versatile: there are ad campaigns to suit just about every budget, from the most modest small business to big, international brands.
It can also be targeted to suit your audience, allowing you to show your ads only to specific demographics such as geographical location, age and gender.
Another advantage of paid advertising is that it is easily measurable.
Particularly with pay-per-click (PPC) ads, you can track precisely how much traffic comes to your site from each ad, telling you what kinds of ads are working, and the kind of return on your investment you are getting.
There are also specific types of paid advertising available depending on your niche. For e-commerce businesses operating on Amazon, Amazon PPC advertising is also an option. This can be highly beneficial for Amazon sellers, and a great way to drive traffic to your listings.
This is broken down in more detail in this Amazon PPC guide.
Cons of Paid Advertising
One obvious drawback of paid advertising is the cost – by definition you need to pay for these ads, with no guarantee that you will make any money in return.
Even with the PPC model, it should be noted that you pay for each click, not every confirmed lead or sale, so although it brings valuable traffic to your site, you may not make a profit from each click.
These costs vary, but the most valuable advertising space with the highest chance of results can be quite expensive. So much so that the most effective PPC and other paid advertising campaigns are out of reach of the smallest businesses and enterprises.
Finally, paid ads do not inspire any level of trust in users, and so even when they do bring traffic to your site, the visitor has no underlying trust in your business.
This means that you need to work even harder to convert them with the quality of your content. There is also little guarantee that this traffic will be highly relevant to your business.
Pros of Organic Traffic
Growing organic traffic through SEO and other measures has been a huge focus for marketers in recent years, and rightly so.
Organic traffic not only represents a considerable number of potential new customers, but in general, this traffic is highly relevant to your business. Organic traffic comes to your site because you are, by definition, what they are looking for.
This means that your traffic is more likely to be interested in your products or services and therefore translate into a sale.
Another big plus of organic traffic, of course, is that it is free.
Whereas businesses must pay for advertising, whether per click or some other measure, organic traffic comes to your site based on search engine results or links elsewhere, and so does not involve any direct costs.
Finally, it could be argued that organic traffic is more effective than paid advertising, and generates more clicks and more visitors than advertising does. Of course, this depends on the specific tactics and approach in either case.
However, it is undoubtedly true that a site with great SEO or those with strong organic links on accessible, niche websites receive high volumes of traffic, higher than almost any paid ad will generate.
Cons of Organic Traffic
One of the significant changes we’ve seen in terms of growing organic traffic in recent years is an increase in complexity.
SEO, in particular, has become exponentially more complicated over the past few years, as search engine algorithms develop and grow more sophisticated. This means that developing effective strategies to drive organic traffic to your site requires a certain degree of expertise.
Furthermore, this area has become highly competitive in the last few years, meaning that many brands and companies perform extremely in terms of SEO and other organic traffic tactics.
This means, in turn, that in order to rise above your competition and get the organic traffic you want, you need to be even more effective and detailed in your tactics.
It should also be acknowledged that although SEO and other tactics to generate organic traffic do not have any direct costs, they do involve some level of investment.
Improving your site’s SEO, building links and attracting traffic through social media content all require resources, whether in house time and expertise or to hire a consultant.