The great advantage of search engines is that users are directed to certain websites for a product or service, regardless of the brand that offers it. This is a great opportunity for small businesses that do not have sufficient resources to promote brand awareness. However, if your positioning works well in search engines, they can compete on equal footing with larger companies, and not only attract more qualified traffic, but also promote brand awareness.

I think for agencies as far as how we appear in organic search ourselves, we are definitely going to need to leverage all 3 of the solutions you talk about and agencies who haven't branded their products/services are going to have to do that and are going to have to also employ branding strategies. In addition, we have to optimize for other search ares like you say in your point #2 and we must look at optimizing existing content for voice search and answers/featured snippets like you say in point #3.


Search engine marketing’s greatest strength is that it offers advertisers the opportunity to put their ads in front of motivated customers who are ready to buy at the precise moment they’re ready to make a purchase. No other advertising medium can do this, which is why search engine marketing is so effective and such an amazingly powerful way to grow your business.


For instance, before launching a new product or service, a business can create a simple landing page to gather feedback from the target audience. Or it can run a survey asking a bunch of targeted questions. Or it can even go a step further and create a minimum viable product to see how the target users are interacting with it. With a bit of creativity, PPC ads can help gather real-time feedback that can be used to improve the end product, or idea.
So for the last 19 years or 20 years that Google has been around, every month Google has had, at least seasonally adjusted, not just more searches, but they've sent more organic traffic than they did that month last year. So this has been on a steady incline. There's always been more opportunity in Google search until recently, and that is because of a bunch of moves, not that Google is losing market share, not that they're receiving fewer searches, but that they are doing things that makes SEO a lot harder.

Content is key. You’re trying to build an audience organically, and that means making content that is easy for people to find, that answers their questions, that they’re willing to share with friends, and that establishes your company as a source of information or entertainment that people want to return to again and again. Keywords are an integral part of any strategy, as they help to drive your content up the search rankings, so start by establishing keywords that are relevant to your business, and that you expect customers to search for.
Great analysis and tips, Rand. Your first tip was to focus on branded search... but when it comes to small-medium businesses, there's a limit on how much brand search-demand one can produce. Are you saying that google search will eventually become an engine made only for entities/businesses we already know of? Where does that leave the whole discovery process?
To give you an idea of just how much money is being spent on paid search, take a look at Google. Google's AdWords program is the most used pay-per-click (PPC) advertising program available today. While the tech giant owns YouTube and Android, among hundreds of other profitable brands, AdWords accounts for roughly 70% of their revenue -- which speaks wonders for its effectiveness.
SEM is the wider discipline that incorporates SEO. SEM includes both paid search results (using tools like Google Adwords or Bing Ads, formerly known as Microsoft adCenter) and organic search results (SEO). SEM uses paid advertising with AdWords or Bing Ads, pay per click (particularly beneficial for local providers as it enables potential consumers to contact a company directly with one click), article submissions, advertising and making sure SEO has been done. A keyword analysis is performed for both SEO and SEM, but not necessarily at the same time. SEM and SEO both need to be monitored and updated frequently to reflect evolving best practices.
Not all businesses will have the need or even the budgetary resources to deploy paid marketing campaigns. However, every business needs to embrace organic marketing. It’s not an option. Here’s why. A marketing strategy built only on paid is shallow; it won’t help you to build an authentic connection with your customers. If all they see are ads – with no educational content, informational emails, or even engaging social media posts to complement those ads – you lose the mindshare of your customers in two ways:

You may be wondering, why pay to show up in search engines and have people click on your website pages? Can’t you just improve your website’s SEO and get online visibility and organic clicks for free? The answer is that organic search isn’t actually free. SEO strategies are very beneficial to your business, but SEO takes time to take effect, (up to 6 months) and the tactics involve a lot of work toward producing quality content. With SEM/pay-per-click advertising, you see results right away, in the form of your business name on page one of a search.


Paid Search (PPC): Paid search results are advertisements. A business pays to have their ads displayed when users do a search containing specific keywords. The ads are typically displayed above and to the right of organic search results. The exact placement of the ads is determined by both a bidding process and quality score. The advantages and drawbacks of paid search are often the opposite of organic listings.
In order to optimize your SEO results, it’s important to measure the impact of your efforts on web site traffic and lead/sales generation. Google Webmaster Tools can give you important insight into how your site is functioning and identify potential errors you should correct. An analytics tool such as Google’s Universal Analytics is helpful for measuring changes in search traffic as well as tracking visitors interactions with your web site that are a direct result of SEO. Marketing automation tools and call tracking tools can help you tie leads and sales back to SEO.
BrightEdge is the only technology that allows marketers to get an accurate understanding of how organic search rankings are tied to business value. It allows customers to track actual placement among all types of search results. BrightEdge users can switch data and reports between blended and classic rank results to gain more visibility and insight into the effects of local, images, videos, and more. You can also see how your content is performing across device types, like mobile, and in different regions within the same country. The image below from BrightEdge StoryBuilder shows Classic Rank in blue and significantly different rank for Blended or Universal results, which include universal rank types such as quick answers, images, videos, and shopping.
Organic content marketing, on the other hand, finds ways to make customers look for you naturally. In effect, it means using any type of marketing method that doesn’t require a direct payment. But, there are still costs involved. These include paying for content creation and the time spent monitoring the campaign and responding to customers. This type of inbound marketing involves providing valuable content that customers need. Then, supporting it with a constant, online presence (often through social media).

As the number of sites on the Web increased in the mid-to-late 1990s, search engines started appearing to help people find information quickly. Search engines developed business models to finance their services, such as pay per click programs offered by Open Text[7] in 1996 and then Goto.com[8] in 1998. Goto.com later changed its name[9] to Overture in 2001, was purchased by Yahoo! in 2003, and now offers paid search opportunities for advertisers through Yahoo! Search Marketing. Google also began to offer advertisements on search results pages in 2000 through the Google AdWords program. By 2007, pay-per-click programs proved to be primary moneymakers[10] for search engines. In a market dominated by Google, in 2009 Yahoo! and Microsoft announced the intention to forge an alliance. The Yahoo! & Microsoft Search Alliance eventually received approval from regulators in the US and Europe in February 2010.[11]
In the end of the day it depends on the size of the website you are working with and how well known the brand is in the market. You can adapt some of the strategies listed above in the post on scale and it can have a highly positive impact on a web property, the property in question is a real content house so any thing is possible. What else do you suggest we should do I will advise you if it has been done already?

In 2007, U.S. advertisers spent US $24.6 billion on search engine marketing.[3] In Q2 2015, Google (73.7%) and the Yahoo/Bing (26.3%) partnership accounted for almost 100% of U.S. search engine spend.[4] As of 2006, SEM was growing much faster than traditional advertising and even other channels of online marketing.[5] Managing search campaigns is either done directly with the SEM vendor or through an SEM tool provider. It may also be self-serve or through an advertising agency. As of October 2016, Google leads the global search engine market with a market share of 89.3%. Bing comes second with a market share of 4.36%, Yahoo comes third with a market share of 3.3%, and Chinese search engine Baidu is fourth globally with a share of about 0.68%.[6]
A variety of methods can increase the prominence of a webpage within the search results. Cross linking between pages of the same website to provide more links to important pages may improve its visibility.[47] Writing content that includes frequently searched keyword phrase, so as to be relevant to a wide variety of search queries will tend to increase traffic.[47] Updating content so as to keep search engines crawling back frequently can give additional weight to a site. Adding relevant keywords to a web page's meta data, including the title tag and meta description, will tend to improve the relevancy of a site's search listings, thus increasing traffic. URL normalization of web pages accessible via multiple urls, using the canonical link element[48] or via 301 redirects can help make sure links to different versions of the url all count towards the page's link popularity score.
On April 24, 2012 many started to see that Google has started to penalize companies that are buying links for the purpose of passing off the rank. The Google Update was called Penguin. Since then, there have been several different Penguin/Panda updates rolled out by Google. SEM has, however, nothing to do with link buying and focuses on organic SEO and PPC management. As of October 20, 2014 Google has released three official revisions of their Penguin Update.

Additionally, there are many situations where PPC (a component of SEM) makes more sense than SEO. For example, if you are first launching a site and you want immediate visibility, it is a good idea to create a PPC campaign because it takes less time than SEO, but it would be unwise to strictly work with PPC and not even touch search engine optimization.
Online Marketing Challenge (OMC) is a unique opportunity for students to get real-world experience creating and executing online marketing campaigns for real nonprofits using a $10,000 USD monthly budget of in-kind Google Ads advertising credit through the Google Ad Grants program. This global academic program brings two worlds together, partnering students and nonprofits, to support digital skill development and drive positive change around the world.
If you want to be even remotely competitive in your space, SEO is non-negotiable. Chances are, your competitors are pouring time and money into their organic traffic. They’re targeting high-value keywords. And they’re doing everything they can to dominate the search engine results. On a  fundamental level, it means you can’t ignore SEO. But the competitive advantage of organic traffic is not just about playing catch up with your competitors.You can one-up them and secure your spot as the preeminent brand in your space. Here’s why.
What you are in fact talking about, are Google's death stars like the Shopping box, Knowledge Graph etc. It's fully understandable why many SEOs can't stand them 'cause whole categories of websites (price comparison platforms, for instance) have already fallen victim of such death stars, and there will be certainly numerous other portals, which will lose almost all of their traffic in the near future. Despite your (quite good) suggestions on how to circumvent such an issue, the situation for such an endangered portal can be hopeless when it's its whole business model, which a new Google feature makes obsolete. See geizhals.at for a very famous example.

Search engine marketing, or SEM, is one of the most effective ways to grow your business in an increasingly competitive marketplace. With millions of businesses out there all vying for the same eyeballs, it’s never been more important to advertise online, and search engine marketing is the most effective way to promote your products and grow your business.


With organic search engine optimization (as opposed to pay-per-click ads) people will more easily find your website on search engines while they are looking for a product or service you provide. Making it more likely that they will convert from visitor to customer. No one searches for a product or service that they don’t want, so they’re already in the mood to buy. You just have to stand out among the competition. Additionally, when you rank on the front page of a search engine, you are showing potential consumers the legitimacy of your products or services because of your high ranking.
To give you an idea of just how much money is being spent on paid search, take a look at Google. Google's AdWords program is the most used pay-per-click (PPC) advertising program available today. While the tech giant owns YouTube and Android, among hundreds of other profitable brands, AdWords accounts for roughly 70% of their revenue -- which speaks wonders for its effectiveness.
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