How Much Traffic Should Your Small Business Expect From Search, Referrals & Paid Search?

Don’t have a lot of money to invest in Search Engine Marketing?  Want to know where you’ll see your biggest return?  Small businesses often wonder where they get the most bang for their buck when it comes to Search Engine Marketing.  Well, this article clearly proves that if you have to choose, organic search is the obvious choice.

This article was originally published by Lily Zhu on the HubSpot Inbound Internet Marketing Blog.

Do you know where your website visits come from?

Here are three options: organic search, paid search, and referral sites.

Which source draws the most traffic to most small- and medium-sized businesses?

To answer this question, we looked at data from 2,100 HubSpot customers (mostly small- to medium-sized businesses). The chart below summarizes our finding: organic search avearges 67.2% more traffic than referral sites, which in turn draw 156% more traffic than does paid search.

A more in-depth industry analysis reveals similar trends. Despite the diversity of the types of industries included in the study, the mathematical inequality holds – organic search > referral sites > paid search.

A closer examination of the second chart shows that organic search traffic is significantly higher than that generated from the other two sources in manufacturing, medicine/health services, and retail. On the flip side, referral sites play an important role in technologically advanced industries such as technology, software, and online marketing as well as more customer-service-oriented industries such as consulting and financial services.

Given the empirical significance of referrals in increasing site traffic, we compiled a list of top referral sites for reference. Businesses that have paid little attention to referrals should consider new marketing strategies that utilize referrals more actively.


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