Paid vs Organic Traffic: Which One Should an Affiliate Marketer Use?

Any affiliate marketer knows that the lifeblood of his business is traffic. In order to make any profit, you need people to visit your website and buy from your affiliate links. There isn’t really much argument around this as it’s considered common knowledge. However, when it comes to which type of traffic – organic or paid – will be best for an affiliate marketer, things start to get muddy as different people tend to have differing views.

Defining Paid and Organic Traffic

Paid traffic is probably more famous for the acronym PPC, which stands for Pay Per Click. It’s essentially paying a third party to drive traffic to your site. One popular example of this is Google Adwords, which is essentially an advertising service that takes advantage of Google’s vast database of user information to drive highly targeted traffic to your site. As the name implies, this method of traffic generation costs money.

Organic traffic, on the other hand, is traffic that comes naturally to your site – whether they came from search engines or social networking sites. You do need to spend a certain amount of money and some work if you want to see massive traffic but there are cases where you can do Search Engine Optimization and attract a lot of traffic without spending a single dime.

Pros and Cons of Paid vs. Organic Traffic

The strength of organic traffic, as mentioned above, is that it doesn’t require you to spend money at all. It’s true that spending money will give you a better chance at driving massive traffic to your website, but you can do effective Search Engine Optimization without spending a single cent. All you need is hard work and time – this brings us to organic traffic’s main disadvantage: it takes time.

You can’t attract organic traffic overnight. You can’t even attract it in a week unless you’re really lucky or your company and brand is already extremely popular. Getting good search engine placement and ranking will take time, from the first time you created your site to the time it gets indexed by search engines, to your SERPs improving and even to the actual traffic to come trickling in, it’s not unusual to spend a few months without seeing any results. There are ways of speeding it up, but a lot of them may fall in the gray area and considered “gaming the system”, which could get you into trouble with the search engines themselves.

Paid traffic, on the other hand, is instant traffic. As soon as the third party starts to place your ads on their service, and assuming that you paid well for a niche where competition isn’t tough, you will start to see the traffic coming in to your site. Additionally, PPC traffic is more targeted than organic traffic, simply because PPC sellers – at least the credible ones – will not sell traffic that will not convert. So the traffic that they will drive to your site comes from people who have been preselected based on various criteria and using their database of user info and behavior.

The main disadvantage of PPC is the initial cost and maintenance cost. Organic traffic, even when you have to invest at first, can be left alone once you get a steady stream of traffic going. With PPC, as soon as you stop buying clicks, the traffic stops. So in a way, this also pressures you into ensuring that the amount of profit you get will offset the cost of traffic you buy.

Which One is Better for an Affiliate Marketer?

There really isn’t one simple answer to this. As stated above, both paid traffic and organic traffic have specific benefits and disadvantages and their use will depend on the situation and the needs of the marketer. This means both kinds of traffic generation will work for an affiliate marketer, but in different times.

Of course, if the affiliate marketer is just starting and can’t invest money on buying clicks yet, there’s no choice but to go with organic. But if there’s enough money to invest in both kinds of campaigns, it is best to go with both and have them complement each other. They will not negate each other’s purposes and will actually work together.

For instance, organic traffic works really well when it comes to building a site’s authority and regular userbase, so if the affiliate marketer is trying to corner a specific niche and get good long-term SERPs for his site, organic traffic building is the way to go.

Paid Traffic, on the other hand, provides instant results and highly targeted traffic that will convert better than organic, so if you’re doing product launches for a high-ticket product or need to promote something really quick, PPC is the way to go.

At the end of the day, the key thing is not choosing the best type of traffic generation methods. Rather, it’s knowing which one is appropriate at any given time, ensuring that you get the best type of traffic that your affiliate marketing campaign needs, minimizing or completely removing wastage in both time and money.


3 Responses to “Paid vs Organic Traffic: Which One Should an Affiliate Marketer Use?”

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