Think You Know What Your Organic Traffic Situation Is? I’ve Got Bad News …

Head over to your Google Analytics account and click on “Acquisition” in the left-hand navigation. Chances are you’ll see something like this:

For this particular business, 37 percent of all traffic during the last month was organic traffic, or traffic coming from search engines like Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo.

Now let’s look at the same business in Google Search Console, under “performance.” Here you can see the search queries bringing traffic to the site. See all those red boxes? That’s where I obscured the name of the company (to protect my client’s privacy).

In other words, the company’s name (or misspellings of the company name) is driving almost all of that organic traffic. I had to go down to the 22nd or 23rd most popular search query to find a keyword phrase that indicates an actual searcher looking for an actual service that this client provides.

Let me put it another way: Google Analytics says that 37 percent of the traffic is coming from search. If this business hired an SEO who was able to push that percentage higher, to (say, for example) 45 percent or 55 percent, is it fair to say the SEO has done his or her job?

Not necessarily. Because all those people searching the company name (or the name of an executive at the company, or the trademarked name of a specific product the company sells) are using Google the way we used to use the Yellow Pages. In other words, they’re not looking for a company that can meet their need, they’re specifically looking for you. They already know about you.


Your Google Search Console data may show that most of your impressions and clicks are driven by branded keywords (i.e. keywords that contain your business name or other brand terms in it). Branded keywords show up as “organic” traffic in Google Analytics and Search Console, but if the searcher has a specific company and its service in mind when using these terms, it doesn’t really count as bringing in new customers and acquanting them with your brand and services.

A healthy keyword mix is one where BOTH branded and non-branded keywords are driving traffic. You need to identify the non-branded keywords that will give you the best opportunity to plan the kind of content your target audience is seeking online, answer their questions, and acquaint them with your brand.