Affiliate Traffic Sources: Why Some Options Are Better

When you start to look at the ways you can get visitors to your website you have many options. The ...

When you start to look at the ways you can get visitors to your website you have many options. The primary three that nearly everyone will focus on are organic, from search engines, paid through ads, and then social with sites like Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and many others.

So, which traffic source is the best?

Well, it depends on your goals. If you’re looking to generate quick sales, then paid traffic sources are going to be your best bet. However, if you’re looking to build a long-term business, then you’ll want to focus on organic and referral traffic sources to grow passive income or more active income.

types of traffic in affiliate marketing

What are Traffic Sources?

Generally speaking, this is how you get visitors to your website. It’s the process and method that you use to bring traffic for affiliate marketing to your site so you can show what you have to offer whether affiliate links specifically or some form of informational product you offer.

For most content creators the focus will always be on organic traffic as this is consistent and unpaid for, earned through dedication to keyword research, SEO, and a tad bit of luck.

For organic traffic the issue is time, for many organic keywords you may write the post 3-9 months before you see any significant traffic from it, then for some it can be 12 months or longer.

This is why many of the bigger companies will choose to use paid traffic, like Google Ads, as these ads will jump the SERP list and get those heavily clicked first links.

They typically have a product or products and they know the cost they can bid to get those clicks and conversions due to some factors we will discuss next.

Why is Paid Traffic Better Than Organic Traffic?

Paid traffic is beneficial as it is far more likely to hit the intended audience that you are targeting as well as they tend to have a much higher overall conversion rate of becoming customers.

A study(1) showed that more than 67% of clicks occur within the first five results and Google has stated many times that most will not scroll past the first page of results meaning rank is vital to success.

Pairing this with mobile is even more vital as mobile users will tend to scroll through the SERP even less in the end so you want to get into those top spots for success.

This means that if your goal is to get sales, then you need to be on that first SERP, which can only really be done with immediacy through paid traffic as organic will take the time that you may not have.

Different Aspects of Traffic Sources

There are many aspects to your traffic which boil down to the costs, the sheer volume you can get, rules and restrictions, and many more we will dig into below:

The Cost of the Traffic Source

A key to any traffic source will be the cost to acquire it, where paid advertising is an immediate cost and traffic begins shortly after for organic the costs are front-loaded to create content with the benefits coming much later.

This means that you need to weigh out the costs with how quickly you need results, paid can be costly but if it brings in sales now it may be worth the investment.

Organic traffic is free after the post is written and published, however, that post will take time to rank meaning there may be opportunity costs as well as the time spent writing it in the first place.

The Amount of Traffic Available

The amount of traffic is different from source to source and can vary greatly based on the vertical you are in as well as the search queries, aka “keywords” you are targeting and the target audience.

Paid traffic can be increased on a whim and you can get results quickly, especially if you have the budget to spend, while organic traffic will take time to increase.

I always suggest looking at tools like Google Trends to get a look at the last 1 year and then five years to see if the trend is up or down and when the “peak” search interest is or was, is it fairly reliable each year, is it spiked in some specific time?

Restrictions, Regulations, and Rules

There are rules and restrictions with advertising specifically as a traffic source that you need to be aware of lest you get your account banned or suspended.

Paid traffic sources are much more strict on what types of links and offers you can promote, so make sure you read the terms and plan an approach that won’t get you banned.

This means that you need to be very careful with what types of offers and links you are promoting as well as how you are driving the traffic to your site.

Quality of the Traffic Sources

There are things like bots and similar that can make numbers look inflated on your stats but that won’t pay you for purchases, don’t pay for ads, or worst case as with AdSense get you limited or banned from their systems.

Quality of the visitors is important as you want conversions, not just clicks or views, and this can be a problem with some types of traffic sources.

The types of visitors that come from paid searches tend to be of higher quality than those who come from organic searches as they have been targeted specifically for what they are looking for.

This is due to the fact that they have searched for a specific keyword and clicked on an ad which means they are further down the buying cycle than those who are just browsing around.

The type of traffic you get from paid social media ads will tend to also be higher quality as these people have been targeted specifically through interest, demographics, or other types of targeting that Facebook or other networks provide.

While organic traffic is preferable it also converts far less as many are searching for information, not to buy things in many cases so without a solid approach to convert these visitors you will have lower affiliate numbers.

The Best Traffic Sources for Affiliate Marketing

There are only a few specific methods for most affiliate marketers, the primary being organic traffic from Google searches, and the second being social traffic from Facebook or other social media sites.

Organic Search Traffic

Organic traffic is going to be your bread and butter. This is the traffic that comes from search engines, and it can be incredibly powerful. The problem with organic traffic is that it takes time to build up.

Most content creators learn to use search engine optimization skills to find target keywords, many starting with low competition long-tailed keywords that are easy to rank for to get some quick results.

Organic traffic doesn’t often convert into sales the same as paid traffic, so the more work you put into learning the sales funnel(2), the better you can look at your target keywords and how you may work the blog posts into the higher-converting copy.


The second largest search available is for those willing to add a video component to their affiliate marketing adventure can see some amazing results from Youtube.

This method can take some time to get going as you need to grow an audience, and you need to create content regularly to keep them engaged, but once you have things going it can be a great income stream.

Social Media Traffic

Many will focus on Pinterest as it works on many hobby niches to get highly interested individuals to your website, but this takes time and a lot of content to get going.

The other method is Facebook, which you can use as simple as creating your own Facebook group where you invite people in and build a community in which you can then make affiliate offers.

Then you can also decide if “influencers” can help you increase reach or branding in the space, this can pay off huge or can just be a money pit.

This is a great way to get in front of new potential customers who may not have found you otherwise.

Email Marketing

Long a staple of affiliate marketers and affiliate marketing in general, email marketing can be a great way to get back in front of people who already found your content so intriguing that they wanted to get periodic updates.

The key here is to build an email list of people who have given you permission to contact them, and then provide value regularly, along with your affiliate links as appropriate.

This can be done by setting up a simple auto-responder series of emails, or by sending out a broadcast email when you have something new and interesting to share.

You can also use this to contact other bloggers in your niche and let them know about your content, many will be happy to link to you as it helps their audience as well.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

Paid traffic can be a good way to increase traffic to your website quickly. However, it is not a long-term solution because the costs will continue to increase as you bid on keywords.

PPC is also a good way to test different types of ads and campaigns to see which ones are most effective for your niche but it does have its limits.

Referral Traffic

The last would be referral traffic, this is when someone clicks on a link from another website that leads to yours. This can be a great way to get traffic from high-quality websites and grow a wider and much more loyal audience.

To get referral traffic, you need to promote your website on other websites and social media platforms. The simplest way to garner this traffic is to create helpful in-depth helpful resources that others will want to link to.

Final Thoughts on Choosing Traffic Sources for Affiliate Marketing

There is no easy answer when it comes to which traffic source is best. It really depends on your goals and what you’re looking to achieve and in what timeframe.

If you need quick results, then paid traffic sources are going to be your best bet. However, if you’re looking to build a long-term business, then organic traffic sources are going to be essential.

The most important thing is to experiment and test different traffic sources to see what works best for you. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so the best way to find out what works is to try a few different things and see what gives you the best results.

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Josh With Niche University
Josh is the owner of Niche University, a blog and free resource built specifically to help teach you how to build a side hustle and hopefully freedom in life.