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SEO vs Growing Organic Traffic. What’s the difference?

Published Categorized as Traffic

There’s an overlap between Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and the goal of “Growing Organic Traffic”. SEO is the path to more Organic Traffic for sure. That statement alone isn’t good enough to explain how you apply SEO to YOUR business. You want to avoid SEO myths and advice that’s too broad to make sense, so let’s break it down and get into the detail.

Fundamentally, here are a couple of avenues for the application of SEO for eCommerce:

  1. Applying SEO to a number of specific pages you want to rank in the SERPs for a specific list of keywords
  2. Applying SEO to a growing number of pages you want to rank in the SERPs for a growing list of keywords

If your aim is to be driving traffic to your Amazon Product Listing specifically, there’s an untapped goldmine in SEO for off-Amazon traffic. Amongst the range of traffic sources, SEO has significant cumulative benefits – check out my article breaking down EVERY worthwhile type of traffic for Amazon Sellers.

If you’re not 100% clear on what Organic Search Traffic is and how to get it, check out this article laying out one of the core strategies for generating organic search traffic for your Amazon FBA Business.

SEO for eCommerce Examples of Avenue 1 vs 2

An example of avenue 1 would be trying to get your “Home” page or a “Product” page to rank in the SERPs. You apply continuous effort to the ranking improvement of this page until it ranks for the keywords you want to rank for.

An example of avenue 2 would be seeking out Long Tail keywords for which you can write an article that will rank based on answering the query better than the current search results do, and doing this over and over again. If a page doesn’t rank, it’s not a problem, you move on to the next keyword and the next article.

With avenue number 1, the pages you’re trying to rank are continuously focused on. This focus comes in the form of mostly “off-page SEO”, in other words backlink building.

Build more backlinks to that page from relevant, high authority sites with optimised anchor text (link text) than the other sites ranking on page 1 of the SERPs and your rankings will improve. Well that’s the theory, and largely the practice.

There is obviously still “on-page” SEO that goes into making the target pages rank, but the majority of the work will go into off-page SEO.

Why is it important to understand this?

Well, if you’re in eCommerce, it’s likely that your first thought is about getting your product pages to rank in the SERPs. After all, we’re looking for the shortest path to purchase aren’t we? (maybe not…)

If you’re in the affiliate marketing of eCommerce products however, a more balanced approach with a growth in the number of pages you have on the website answering more and more queries to a higher standard than the competition is a more typical approach.

A typical eCommerce site could have upwards of 300 pages, little more than 100,000 words of content and be focused on backlink building to boost the rank of the product pages, not really increasing the word count or page count apart from to add new products to the catalogue.

A typical affiliate site could generate upwards of 100-500 pages each year, producing anywhere from 50,000-350,000 words of content a year. (there are actually many producing well over 1,000,000 words a year). There may be some backlink building activity, but the majority of the effort goes into finding more search terms to rank for and producing content to suit.

You may have already realised, the more typical approach to eCommerce is highly competitive and as a result very costly.

The more “commercial intent” the keyword, the more likely it’s going to take a lot more backlinks at a lot more cost to rank your product page in Google SERPs..

So trying to rank a product page for a keyword like “Chess Set” in Google is going to cost a bunch.

You then roll this out across the hundreds of product pages you might be optimising for multiple variations of the keyword, “Chess Board” for example, and the costs keep on racking up.

And who do you think dominates the SERPs for “eCommerce” keywords with the highest commercial intent?

…..a little company called “Amazon”

I don’t care how many backlinks you’re building, you’re going to struggle like hell to outrank Amazon.

You could liken this approach – trying to rank product pages at all cost, to banging your head against a brick wall. Eventually, over time you may well loosen some bricks, you may even make it through the wall, but at what cost?

Competing for the search terms on the “Short Head” and not “The Long Tail” will almost always provide you with these very same challenges.

The “Long” Way Around

So maybe the “Shortest” route doesn’t make sense.

Trying to smash through the brick wall is possible.

You could enlist some expensive heavy machinery after all.

But you could be left wondering if there’s actually any money left after all of the expense.

It may not actually be worth it.

Example: based on some recent evaluations using AHrefs we found that about $25,000 worth of backlinks (or equivalent effort to build them) would be required to rank on page 1 for a single eCommerce keyword, targeting a product with a sale price of between $50-100.

Assuming there’s $10 net profit per unit to be made, you would need to sell 2,500 units to break even. Keeping in mind the keyword only generated around 3,000 searches in total per month, a fraction of which would convert to a sale – maybe 500 out of all of the search results.

The “Long way around” is the alternative approach which changes your perspective of the wall.

Instead of a continuous and never ending barrier protruding to the right and left, it’s a mere “roadblock” which can be driven around.

Driving around the roadblock, via a diversion is obviously taking you out of your way and isn’t the shortest route, but ultimately you arrive at your desired destination – The Product Sale.

Avenue 2 is that long way around, and it’s not just relevant to affiliate marketers in the eCommerce space.

ECommerce businesses can approach SEO in this same way.

Circumvent the need to hammer the wall and instead pick up customers with less “commercial intent” keywords, targeting “Long Tail Keywords” that are less competitive with a growing repertoire of content.

After all, if you can pick up 100 website visitors a month for a single piece of content, it only takes 100 pieces of content to deliver 10,000 visitors a month.

And how much would 100 pieces of content cost?

Somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000

So if you’re comparing budgets – EVEN if the Long Tail Keyword generated website visitors convert up to 5X less than the Short Tail “Chess Set” generated visitors, it still makes sense to focus on generating content, than trying to rank individual product pages (from the examples in this article, this won’t always be the case, but in many cases it will be).

So do you see the difference between “SEO” and “SEO”?

The title of this article was SEO vs Growing Organic Traffic, which may have sounded nonsensical.

Of course, the goal of SEO IS to Grow Organic Traffic. However, if the Goal is to GROW ORGANIC TRAFFIC, there are a couple of fundamentally different approaches to applying SEO practices.

So the next time you’re thinking about “SEO”, think about whether you’re pursuing:

  • “Avenue 1” – focusing on ranking particular pages or;
  • “Avenue 2” – focusing on finding keywords you can rank for and producing more and more content for more and more keywords.

Not only the costs, but the skills involved in these 2 “SEO” approaches are DRASTICALLY different.

And of course, these approaches AREN’T Mutually exclusive. You can, and should, do both in the long run, all with the aim of driving traffic to your product and converting website visitors into customers.

Incidentally, building your content and website authority with Avenue 2 will make Avenue 1 even easier, so it makes sense to pursue Avenue 2 from the outset.

By Ashley Pearce

I'm the founder of Future State Media, a "small-on-purpose" creator-focused SEO agency skilled in helping creators systematically generate traffic, build audiences and maximise their monetisation whilst staying true to their brand.