Is An Increase In Search Traffic Always The Result Of SEO?

Search traffic has become vital to any business with a website (which should by now be all of them!). However, while search traffic is important, so is getting the right kind of search traffic.
  • An increase in search traffic tends to be an important indicator of a successful SEO campaign.
  • What SEO campaigns are really good at doing is increasing non-branded traffic.
  • Often it makes more sense for an SEO campaign to target smaller traffic volumes.

Search traffic has become vital to any business with a website (which should really be all of them!)

Employing an effective search engine optimisation strategy is a great way to generate more search traffic to your business’s website. But is an increase in search traffic always the result of SEO, and is a large amount of search traffic always good for your website?

What is search traffic?

Search traffic is a term used to describe the number of visitors to your company’s website after conducting a search for your product, service or brand on a search engine (in the UK this will mostly be Google).

Therefore an increase in search traffic tends to be an important indicator of a successful SEO campaign.

The higher your SEO campaign can get you to rank in Google, the greater your search traffic is likely to be. And the greater your search traffic, the more people (it stands to reason) will want to purchase your products/services.

Other sources of traffic include paid traffic, direct traffic and referral traffic.

Paid traffic is the result of any online advertisements which your company purchased outright. These can include Google’s pay per click (PPC) ads and banners on 3rd party sites

Direct traffic comprises visits to your site which did not come via a search engine. In other words, a user will have typed the URL directly into the address bar or had a bookmark to your site which they clicked. These users would have already heard of your business and likely know what it does.

Referral traffic is any visit via a link on other sites that takes visitors directly to your site without them having to search for it.

There are several different types of search traffic

Search traffic, or organic traffic as it is often referred to, is a collective term for all users who are led to your site through search engine results and general web browsing.

When an SEO campaign improves your rankings in Google, it is your website’s organic traffic which should see an improvement. But this traffic can again be broken down into two distinct groups: branded and non-branded traffic.

Branded traffic is the result of users searching for your brand by name. Since your brand will already rank first in Google for branded search, SEO campaigns won’t need to devote much energy to your company’s branded keywords. The is is like a shopper going to a store and asking for a “Dyson Airblade”.

What SEO campaigns are really good at doing is increasing non-branded traffic. This comprises visits based on keywords that describe your products or services. In other words, this may be the visitor’s first encounter with your site. In this case the real world equivalent is a shopper asking for “a good fan” and the shopkeeper suggesting a number of options.

In the case of non-brand traffic it is the SEO campaign, through achieving visibility in non-branded search, that is marketing your service or product and driving traffic to it.

But an increase in search traffic isn’t always just the result of SEO

When a site receives a sudden influx in branded traffic this will reflect as organic traffic but may not necessarily be the exclusive result of SEO.

Since branded traffic relies on an existing familiarity with the brand, it is more likely to be a combination of other (offline) marketing activity or press coverage and some technical optimisation that allows a site to be visible in a branded query.

How to tell brand from non-brand traffic

Google’s Analytics console doesn’t distinguish between branded and non-branded traffic. This makes it difficult to get granular data on the kind of organic traffic you are receiving.

However, using Google’s Search Console it is possible to get a basic sense of the volume of brand-specific search your site is attracting. If you have access to your site’s Search Console, navigate to the Analytics View where you will get a breakdown of the popular search terms your site is ranking for, which position it ranks in and how many clicks your site has attracted:


At Go Up we use software that lets us track traffic from specific keywords thus allowing us to report separately on branded and non-branded visitors.

An increase in search traffic isn’t always a good thing

As would have become apparent in this article, not all traffic is the same.

Often it makes more sense for an SEO campaign to target smaller traffic volumes but in so doing to attract visitors who are truly looking for your service.

Attracting irrelevant traffic to your site can drive up your site’s bounce rate (the percentage of people who view your site and leave it quickly).

Though Google insists it does not take high bounce rates into account as a ranking factor, because it indicates poor user experience, it’s a good idea to try to keep bounce rates low, particularly on pages where you would normally expect users to dwell or to click on to a further link in the site (like on a product page where ideally the next click is “add to cart”). Bounce rates may be higher on contact pages where users get a phone number and leave immediately.

A high bounce rate can be an indicator that users haven’t found your website useful and there is strong evidence to suggest that there are at least correlations between a high bounce rate and reduced rankings.

This is why it’s important to know where your traffic is coming from and pursue quality visits at all times.

Someone working on an SEO campaign for your site will need to monitor your keywords and make sure they don’t give potential visitors to your sight the wrong idea of what your business does. Being visible for high volume keywords might well result in high search traffic, but it probably won’t always lead to a proportionate amount of conversions.

High quality SEO is still vital for generating high quality search traffic

Even though search traffic isn’t always the result of SEO, a properly executed SEO strategy will drive a marked increase in quality organic traffic with a strong potential for conversion (making a sale). Because SEO campaigns tend to target non-branded organic traffic, they remain vitally important marketing tools.