The objective of (SEM) is to drive traffic to your website with the intent of converting those visitors into customers. With SEM, it is important to have your business site listed near the top of the search engine rankings since very few internet users will actually look at search results beyond the first couple of pages. SEM can be divided into two categories: organic and paid. Both are important.
Getting seen by people who are interested in your niche or brand helps you boost your brand’s visibility. Which indirectly affects the amount of business you get. Even if a lot of people are not immediately clicking on your ads, they may search for your product in the future. Either way, the paid ads will help immensely in terms of getting in front of your target audience and filtering out anyone who is not a part of it.
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?

People use search engines to get more information about the products or services that they are interested in purchasing, as well as the businesses that they are interested in purchasing from. Consumers will turn to search engines before doing business with a large national company, and they will also utilize search engines when planning to make local purchases as well.
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.
And the other way to do that is really through status updates, very short simple things to start engaging your audience, talk about the things you’re learning in the business world. And when it comes to what that strategy can look like, what I always recommend is you sit down with whoever you think are going to be your thought leaders and figure out what part of the business do they really want to position themselves as a thought leader about.
‘There’s really two core strategies I always recommend. The first is looking after prospecting in groups. This one is a big one because I think this is one of the single best ways for sales and marketing to drum up new business on LinkedIn. But the caveat is I’ve also seen this go horribly wrong. And without getting into too much detail, there’s a few recommendations I have to avoid some of those pitfalls.
Traffic data is a great way to take the temperature of your website and marketing initiatives. When you are writing and promoting blog content on a regular basis, you can use traffic data to track results and correlate these efforts to actual ROI. Be sure to look at traffic numbers over long-term intervals to see trends and report on improvement over time.  
Hi Rand! Thanks for a really informative and thought provoking Whiteboard Friday. I agree with Namrata about the challenges to local and small businesses that all the rapid changes with little to know warning from Google as far as they're concerned. In many cases, they're just rapping their heads and marketing strategies around having someone create and optimize their website and content for how Google SERPs used to work, and even with basic GMB listings, they have been unaware or unsure of how to use them. Some have been taken advantage of because of lack of understanding and awareness of how Google listings and GMB work and that it's free.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine's unpaid results—often referred to as "natural", "organic", or "earned" results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a website appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine's users; these visitors can then be converted into customers.[1] SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, video search, academic search,[2] news search, and industry-specific vertical search engines. SEO differs from local search engine optimization in that the latter is focused on optimizing a business' online presence so that its web pages will be displayed by search engines when a user enters a local search for its products or services. The former instead is more focused on national or international searches.
An effective tactic to use to improve your SEO analysis is to measure the sources of your visitors and leads. By doing this, you will understand how impactful your tactics and strategy truly is. By using website tools such as Google Analytics and Adobe Omniture, you can learn about your traffic sources which can be helpful in learning if your SEO optimizations are effective. For example, are your users entering your website through your social media posts or are they finding your content through an organic search? Or maybe, you’ll find that your paid marketing tactics are more effective than you’d imagine. The bottom line is tracking your visitors and leads can provide many insights for both your paid and organic marketing strategies.
If you were to ask someone what the difference is between direct and organic website traffic, they would probably be able to warrant a good guess, purely based on the terms’ wording. They might tell you that direct traffic comes from going straight into a website by entering its URL into a browser or clicking a bookmark, while organic traffic comes from finding the site somewhere else, like through a search engine.

Utilizing keywords in your URLs will also help with your rankings. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to change the home page URL of your website without your domain authority being reset. However, each additional page you add is a place to insert a keyword, as long as it is relevant to the actual page content. We’ll go over blogging shortly, but URLs of blog posts are a great place to use your keywords.
Utilizing keywords in your URLs will also help with your rankings. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to change the home page URL of your website without your domain authority being reset. However, each additional page you add is a place to insert a keyword, as long as it is relevant to the actual page content. We’ll go over blogging shortly, but URLs of blog posts are a great place to use your keywords.
Social media is the easiest and most effective way to push out your SEO-based content. While the incoming links from your social media shares don’t have the same impact as authentic links from high-quality sites, they can influence your bounce rate and time-on-site engagement. If your content is good and people stick around to read it, those engagement metrics communicate value to search engines. Your goal should be to turn your best organic content into social media content so you can then encourage engagement and drive traffic back to your site.

11th point to me would be too look at your social media properties, work out how you can use them to assist your SEO strategy. I mean working on competitions via social channels to drive SEO benefit to your main site is great, working on re-doing your YouTube videos to assist the main site and also working on your content sharing strategy via these social sites back to the main site.
Some search engines have also reached out to the SEO industry, and are frequent sponsors and guests at SEO conferences, webchats, and seminars. Major search engines provide information and guidelines to help with website optimization.[18][19] Google has a Sitemaps program to help webmasters learn if Google is having any problems indexing their website and also provides data on Google traffic to the website.[20] Bing Webmaster Tools provides a way for webmasters to submit a sitemap and web feeds, allows users to determine the "crawl rate", and track the web pages index status.

These types of keywords each tell you something different about the user. For example, someone using an informational keyword is not in the same stage of awareness as someone employing a navigational keyword. Here’s the thing about awareness. Informational needs change as awareness progresses. You want your prospects to be highly aware. If you’re on a bare-bones budget, you can be resourceful and achieve that with one piece of content.

Paid advertising and sponsored social posts cost money but work fast, so they’re a good way to give an immediate boost to your traffic regardless of what stage your business is in. In fact, paid strategies are a good way for new companies to get their names out there while they work on their organic strategy. However, paid traffic drops as soon as the payments drop, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a healthy amount of organic content before ending a sponsored campaign.
The fee structure is both a filter against superfluous submissions and a revenue generator. Typically, the fee covers an annual subscription for one webpage, which will automatically be catalogued on a regular basis. However, some companies are experimenting with non-subscription based fee structures where purchased listings are displayed permanently. A per-click fee may also apply. Each search engine is different. Some sites allow only paid inclusion, although these have had little success. More frequently, many search engines, like Yahoo!,[18] mix paid inclusion (per-page and per-click fee) with results from web crawling. Others, like Google (and as of 2006, Ask.com[19][20]), do not let webmasters pay to be in their search engine listing (advertisements are shown separately and labeled as such).
Publishing quality content on a regular basis can help you attract targeted organic search traffic. But creating great content that gets ranked higher in the search engines isn’t easy. If your business doesn’t have the necessary resources, developing strong content assets can prove to be a challenge. Which affects your ability to have a working content strategy.
Like I said at the beginning, building organic traffic is hard. Anything that promises a shortcut to an avalanche of traffic will more than likely lead to a penalty down the road. Embrace the daily grind of creating great content that helps users and provides a solution to what they’re looking for. In the end that will drive more organic traffic than any shortcut ever will.
SEO techniques can be classified into two broad categories: techniques that search engine companies recommend as part of good design ("white hat"), and those techniques of which search engines do not approve ("black hat"). The search engines attempt to minimize the effect of the latter, among them spamdexing. Industry commentators have classified these methods, and the practitioners who employ them, as either white hat SEO, or black hat SEO.[49] White hats tend to produce results that last a long time, whereas black hats anticipate that their sites may eventually be banned either temporarily or permanently once the search engines discover what they are doing.[50]
While SEO seems to be the perfect plan for building your brand, one of the setbacks of this strategy is that it works in a slow-paced manner, and you might just be overwhelmed. Most keywords are usually already dominated by bigger brands. So if you are just starting up and are targeting to compete with other big brands, SEO services for small businesses like you might not be the perfect fit.
There is no one size fits all formula when it comes to social media marketing. For instance, a fast food chain restaurant could find a large number of people ordering food on their website with a single organic Facebook post, and on the other hand a medium-sized mobile app development company may see dramatic results with a promoted post on LinkedIn.
Another one of the benefits of SEM is that people who see your PPC ads are those most likely to want to buy your product or service. PPC ads require you to choose a geographic location and specific search queries to target. As a result, you can be sure that anyone who clicks on your ad is not arbitrarily surfing the web, but rather, is looking for your product or service and in a position to do so.

Writing blogs for your website not only helps with organic search engine optimization, but it provides valuable information for your potential customers and website visitors, among other things. Writing blogs about the industry you service will provide a place for you to insert your keywords plenty of times, while keeping the information relevant and helpful. On top of that, it makes your business look like an industry expert. A well-written blog makes you look more credible because of your level of expertise. Blogs that optimize for keywords will ideally be anywhere from 500 to 2,000 words, but not everyone has the time to crank out blogs that size every week. However, posting shorter blogs still provides value to your client base and potential customers.


hey james - congrats on your success here. just a question about removing crummy links. for my own website, there are hundreds of thousands of backlinks in webmaster tools pointing to my site. The site has no penalties or anything  - the traffic seems to be growing every week. would you recommend hiring someone to go through the link profile anyway to remove crummy links that just occur naturally?
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.
When the topic of SEO vs SEM arises, some experts may argue that SEO is the best way to go as it offers higher quality leads at a cheaper cost when compared to SEM. However, it isn’t so simple. Every business is different and has unique needs. For example, your small business may not have a big ad budget and it may also lack the resources needed for doing effective SEO.
Search engine marketing is the practice of marketing a business using paid advertisements that appear on search engine results pages (or SERPs). Advertisers bid on keywords that users of services such as Google and Bing might enter when looking for certain products or services, which gives the advertiser the opportunity for their ads to appear alongside results for those search queries.
Step #3: Calculate your ROI based on the right performance indicators The performance indicators will depend on the objective you selected in the first step. Want to generate leads? You could track your new subscribers. Want to increase engagement? You could track clicks, comments, shares, etc. Let’s go with the first example: Your goal is customer acquisition. You’ve already set up tracking for sales conversions. It’s time to dissect your organic search traffic.
In some contexts, the term SEM is used exclusively to mean pay per click advertising,[2] particularly in the commercial advertising and marketing communities which have a vested interest in this narrow definition. Such usage excludes the wider search marketing community that is engaged in other forms of SEM such as search engine optimization and search retargeting.

The Challenge is open to higher education students from undergraduate or graduate programs, regardless of major. Students must form teams of 2-5 members and register under a verified faculty member, lecturer or instructor currently employed by an accredited higher education institute. Google will partner student teams with select nonprofits that are a part of the Ad Grants program and have opted in to participate in the Challenge.
In the zero-results sets, Google was still willing to show AdWords, which means if we have customer targets, we can use remarketed lists for search advertising (RLSA), or we can run paid ads and still optimize for those. We could also try and claim some of the data that might show up in zero-result SERPs. We don't yet know what that will be after Google rolls it back out, but we'll find out in the future.
The Featured Snippet section appearing inside the first page of Google is an incredibly important section to have your content placed within. I did a study of over 5,000 keywords where HubSpot.com ranked on page 1 and there was a Featured Snippet being displayed. What I found was that when HubSpot.com was ranking in the Featured Snippet, the average click-through rate to the website increased by over 114%.
Traffic data is a great way to take the temperature of your website and marketing initiatives. When you are writing and promoting blog content on a regular basis, you can use traffic data to track results and correlate these efforts to actual ROI. Be sure to look at traffic numbers over long-term intervals to see trends and report on improvement over time.  
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