What is Organic Traffic? (+ Where to see it in GA 4)

Cecilien Dambon
October 17, 2022
Reading time
20 min.
Whether you’re new to the digital marketing world or see yourself as a bit of an SEO expert, organic traffic can be a challenge to understand and manipulate. With the likes of Google launching new updates left, right, and center, navigating the world of organic traffic can be quite the feat.

In this article, we answer the question “what is organic traffic” while also highlighting its importance and showing you how to see organic traffic in Google Analytics 4 (GA4).

What Is Organic Traffic?

Organic traffic refers to the visitors that arrive on your website via unpaid (organic) search results on the likes of Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines. Organic traffic is exactly the opposite of paid traffic which is traffic that comes to your website from paid ads such as those seen at the top of Google.
Organic traffic
Organic traffic is also not referred to your website via third-party sources, for example, a link from another website or social media channel. It only refers to unpaid traffic from search engines. In short, organic traffic is untouched by outside influences.

Search Engine Optimization

The type of marketing that focuses on improving organic traffic for a website is called search engine optimization, or SEO. This form of unpaid, organic marketing takes a strategic approach, using a combination of specific keywords, trending topics, as well as design and development techniques to help boost a website’s ranking on the search engine result pages (SERPS).
While there is no quick fix when it comes to SEO and boosting organic traffic to a website, the return on investment from this form of digital marketing is relatively high as it is a more permanent and long-lasting alternative to paid advertising.

The Benefits of Organic Traffic

For the majority of companies, regardless of their size, organic traffic is the most important source of traffic. Organic traffic attracts real people. This means that you can be relatively sure that the person clicking on your page is doing so because they have a specific question or pain point in mind that they believe could be addressed via your website. By addressing your audience’s needs, you will grow a loyal following based on trust. Moreover, these higher-quality leads are more likely to convert into customers in the long run.
Wondering how this differs from paid traffic? The truth is, paid traffic is more likely to be clicked on by bots and other automated machines. This form of traffic does nothing for your rankings and has no impact on your site analytics, thus leading to very little growth over time. Organic traffic is driven by customer intent and is, therefore, a more cost-effective approach to marketing your products and services.
Additionally, as your organic traffic grows, so does your online reputation, something that Google and other search engines take very seriously. By establishing yourself as an authority within your industry, Google is more likely to rank your pages higher on its SERPs. E-A-T, which stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness has been an important factor in Google ranking for some time now. However, the May 2019 Google update changed its importance by making it one overall ranking factor (rather than multiple) in determining page quality. Some niches require higher E-A-T than others. These include:
  • Medical websites
  • Newspapers and other journalistic articles
  • Pages that share scientific topics
  • Legal and tax advice websites
  • Financial platforms
  • Websites that share information on high-stake topics (parenting, home repair, etc.)
  • Websites that provide tips on hobbies that require a certain level of expertise (playing an instrument, videography, etc.)

Where Do You See Organic Traffic in Google Analytics 4?

While Google Analytics 4 is one of the most important tools in the SEO world, it is not the easiest to navigate when it comes to analyzing organic traffic. With the help of GA4, you can see how much organic traffic you’re getting and check which countries users come from and how they engage with your website, among other data.

Checking Organic Traffic

Google Analytics can identify the most popular search engines and collate traffic from these channels in the Traffic Acquisition section of your GA4 dashboard. Here’s how you can check the amount of organic traffic to your website:
Step 1: Head over to your Google Analytics 4 dashboard and click on "Reports"
Google Analytics dashboard
Step 2: Then, click on the ‘Acquisition’ drop-down list followed by ‘Traffic Acquisition’
Google Analytics organic traffic
Step 3: From this page, choose the date range for which you would like to see organic traffic and scroll down to the bottom of the page. Make sure that the drop-down on the top left of the table is set to ‘Session default channel grouping’. Under ‘Totals’, you will see an ‘Organic Search’ row where you will be able to analyze all of the data relevant to the organic traffic for your website.
Google Analytics increase

Checking Where Your Visitors Are Coming From

Knowing where your visitors are coming from could help you better target your content and other SEO efforts so that you reach your desired audience. To learn more about the demographic of your website visitors, you can follow these steps:
Step 1: Click on the ‘Demographics’ drop-down list on your dashboard followed by ‘Demographic details’.
Google Analytics Searching
Step 2: Next, scroll down a little, set your preferred date range in the top right-hand corner, and choose whether you would like to filter your table by country, region, city, language, age, gender, or interests. Your data will appear in the table, ready for you to analyze to your heart’s content.

What’s the Difference Between Organic Traffic & Direct Traffic?

Many website owners often confuse organic/search traffic with direct traffic. These two traffic sources are, in fact, completely different. While organic traffic refers to the traffic that comes from search engine result pages, direct traffic is traffic that comes from users directly typing your URL into their web browser.
Despite the fact that some web visitors within your target audience may arrive on your website by inputting your URL directly into their web browser, it is worth mentioning that direct traffic typically comes from website owners, employees, or existing customers logging into your website (if this is an option you offer).

Improving Organic Traffic

We’re yet to meet a website owner who doesn’t want more organic traffic to their pages. This is because an increase in organic traffic often equates to an increase in orders, turnover, and revenue. Here are some basic tips for increasing the organic traffic that comes to your website:

Focus Your Attention on SEO

Unlike paid advertising, SEO offers semi-permanent results. With this in mind, focusing your efforts and budget on SEO can provide you with growth in website visitors and, in turn, sales. But, SEO is a broad-spectrum industry, with even the most well-versed experts facing daily struggles.
One essential aspect of good SEO is keyword research and implementation. Tools such as AHREFs and SEMRush allow you to identify relevant keywords and their search volume so that you can implement them on your website. Strategically implementing keywords within your content will allow you to grow organically, however, it is important that you opt for the right balance of high and low competition alternatives in order to compete with other websites.

Content, Content, Content!

Blogging is a relatively affordable yet extremely impactful way of boosting your organic search traffic. By increasing the amount of content on your website, you can target more keywords, broadening your online reach. Be sure to write content that is relevant to your service and products, or that identifies and addresses customer questions and pain points.

Optimize Your Titles and Headlines

Google doesn’t only rank you based on the keywords you use, it also ranks you based on how you use them. It’s important that you add your primary keyword at the beginning of your title and meta descriptions in order to clearly mark the intent of your content.

Optimize Your Images

Images are just as important as content when it comes to SEO. After all, would you buy a product without at least seeing an image of it first? With this in mind, it’s important that you add images of your products. It’s also important that you illustrate and give life to your blogs with relevant imagery in order to improve engagement. Last but not least, be sure to optimize your images for SEO by correctly naming your image files and adding your keywords to the alt text of each image.

Other Traffic Sources…

Google Analytics 4 organizes traffic based on its source. In addition to organic traffic, you will see:
  • Direct traffic which, as mentioned previously, is when a website visitor arrives on your website by typing your URL directly into their internet browser.
  • Paid traffic is the traffic that comes from all of your paid sources, including Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns and any other ads you have launched on search engines as well as paid social media campaigns and media networks.
  • Referral traffic is when a website visitor enters your site via a link from another website. If a blog, article, or other web page links to your website and a person clicks on the link, this will be recorded as referral traffic.
  • Social traffic is the traffic that comes from social channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, and Pinterest, among others.

Get More Tips on How to Use Google Analytics 4 From Spark Traffic

Organic traffic makes up approximately 53.3% of website traffic across all industries today. With this in mind, it’s become more important than ever to know how to identify the organic traffic for your website so that you can take strides towards improving your SEO.

For more tips on improving organic traffic or how to use Google Analytics 4, email our friendly team at [email protected].
Cecilien Dambon
Cecilien Dambon
SEO & Growth Advisor
I once told my mum I have to deal with a "Panda", a "Hummingbird", a "Penguin" and even a "Pigeon" for a living, and make awesome content to keep everyone happy while building genuine connections. She still thinks I’m a therapist in a zoo 🤔