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.

You job is to make your fanbase feel part of a community. It’s equally important that you respond to all queries and complaints in a timely and polite manner. This will show your customers that you genuinely care. Address any concerns that your fans have about your product and/or service and do everything you can to address any issues they might have. Use a social media monitoring platform like Hootsuite to keep track of all of your social media interactions.


While organic search has the advantage of being free and can be influenced by your website content, it is limited to the number of people searching for your business or the products and services you offer. Paid search advertising allows you to reach a broader target audience which has more potential customers who may not be aware of your business, all while providing you full control over your messaging and costs.

The first way that social media can (indirectly) help your search engine ranking is through content promotion. We might write, film, or record tons of great quality, keyword-optimized content but still not get many eyes and ears consuming it. Social media allows you to take the quality content you have worked hard to produce and promote it on several channels.
Keywords may get eyes on your content, but they won’t hold a viewer’s interest. You need something that’s going to keep them engaged, and keyword stuffing won’t achieve that. This is where the quality of your content is essential. Well-written, well-researched content keeps people reading, as it provides the solution they need, even if that solution is just something funny to fill a spare five minutes. It’s possible to enhance the content in many ways, such as formatting to arrange material in easily digestible sections, using infographics that are visually appealing and easy to share across social media, or creating videos that express ideas instantly. And don’t forget links. Creating a network of related content keeps viewers engaged with a constant stream of relevant information, and increases the chance they make a purchase.
You’re not going to like this answer. But wouldn’t it be so simple if we would tell you to do one or the other and get stellar results? The truth is, an effective marketing campaign should include a bit of both strategies. For the short-term, a paid search campaign can give your business a quick boost, helping you gain exposure to customers searching for the relevant keywords in your campaign; however, sometimes consumers don’t trust—or even look at—paid ads. Using organic search methods, which consumers tend to see as trustworthy, will help drive traffic and increase revenue over the long haul, and solidify your position as a leader and authority in your niche.
The monthly volume of searches entered on keywords can be found with a few different methods. If you have a Google AdWords account, you can use Keyword Planner for this step. If you don’t, there are a few free sites out there that will give you similar numbers. Obviously, if a keyword has higher monthly searches you’ll want to keep it in mind. However, that also might mean that it has a higher keyword difficulty, and fiercer competition.
But if someone performs a search for Moz, well, guess what? I mean we can nail that sucker. We can definitely rank for that. Google is not going to take away our ability to rank for our own brand name. In fact, Google knows that, in the navigational search sense, they need to provide the website that the person is looking for front and center. So if we can create more demand for Moz than there is for SEO tools, which I think there's something like 5 or 10 times more demand already for Moz than there is tools, according to Google Trends, that's a great way to go. You can do the same thing through your content, through your social media, and through your email marketing. Even through search you can search and create demand for your brand rather than unbranded terms.

Usually, paid links will have an indicator next to them (in the example above, the words “Sponsored” and “Ad” fill this role) while organic links are left bare. You’ll likely remember seeing paid posts on other websites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You may have even seen sponsored posts on industry websites, where brands will pay a publication to write about their product or something related to their business.
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.
Billions of people search the web every day. Search engine marketing (SEM for short) is how you can get your ads in front of these future customers where it counts: in premium spots on the first page of search results. You set your own budget and are charged only when your ad is clicked. This makes SEM an affordable way to reach more customers for businesses of all sizes — including yours.

Lynn, it is so true that just talking about a brand in a blog post gets you noticed. I did a blog post a few years ago on a toy and mentioned that is was on the Parenting Magazine top 10 list. I did not link to the magazine, I just mentioned it and they sent me a free one year subscription to their magazine, and a whole box of coloring books for my kids. It wasn't monetary, but at least the company acknowledge that I referenced them.
Quick question. Do you ever click on the paid results when you conduct a search? It turns out, most users don’t. People typically bypass paid results and click on the top organic results. I get it. They’re looking for the most relevant and trustworthy answers to their problems. A top result that appears to be bought doesn’t appeal to them as much as an organic result. That’s where the credibility factor comes into play. It’s why 75% of clicks are organic.
Let’s assume that your goal is customer acquisition. You know you’ve acquired a customer when you make a sale. So, you’d set up a sales conversion goal. To do that, click on “New Goal.” In the goal setup section, you can either select “template” or “custom.” Custom gives you more flexibility, so go with that option. Go on to the “goal description.” This is where you define your goal by naming it and selecting the type. For customer acquisition, you want to select “Destination.”
Since there is an obvious barrier of entry for anyone trying to beat you once you’re established, you won’t have to worry about having competitors “buying” their way to the top. Their only option is pay per click ads, but then again, it isn’t the same as getting a higher position on the SERPs. Again, this is assuming that you took the right steps and were patient enough to solidify your place in the top search results. 
If you've never been on Product Hunt before, it's like a daily Reddit feed for new products. Products get submitted to the community and they're voted on. Each day products are stacked in descending order based on how many votes they've had. Ranking at the top of the daily list can result in thousands of conversion-focused traffic to your site, just as the creator of Nomad List found out.
So, closely monitor and analyze all yours, and your competitor’s social marketing activities. Find the kind of posts your followers and target audience find interesting by analyzing social channels, campaigns and posts.  Figure out what works best for your brand in a given scenario. Based on the inputs you gain from analyzing your social channels, craft the social media marketing strategies for your company.
AdWords is recognized as a web-based advertising utensil since it adopts keywords which can deliver adverts explicitly to web users looking for information in respect to a certain product or service. It is flexible and provides customizable options like Ad Extensions, access to non-search sites, leveraging the display network to help increase brand awareness. The project hinges on cost per click (CPC) pricing where the maximum cost per day for the campaign can be chosen, thus the payment of the service only applies if the advert has been clicked. SEM companies have embarked on AdWords projects as a way to publicize their SEM and SEO services. One of the most successful approaches to the strategy of this project was to focus on making sure that PPC advertising funds were prudently invested. Moreover, SEM companies have described AdWords as a practical tool for increasing a consumer’s investment earnings on Internet advertising. The use of conversion tracking and Google Analytics tools was deemed to be practical for presenting to clients the performance of their canvas from click to conversion. AdWords project has enabled SEM companies to train their clients on the utensil and delivers better performance to the canvass. The assistance of AdWord canvass could contribute to the growth of web traffic for a number of its consumer’s websites, by as much as 250% in only nine months.[30]

The value of this that it is natural. In this day and age, we have become incredibly immune to advertising. People see it everywhere. We have been trained to unconsciously identify and ignore advertising. However, organic marketing provides value-first content to people who want to consume it. When people are searching or browsing for information about your products and services you want to be there to provide exceptional content.
Retargeting: Each platform offers retargeting to help you reach people who’ve already visited your website. The benefit of retargeting is that a conversion is more likely when you know the prospect is interested. You might also upload an email list and use Facebook Custom Audiences to serve ads directly to subscribers. In the following example, we see two ads that show in the Facebook sidebar to reach former web visitors.

James, you give a great template for how a business needs to move forward in their chosen niche online.  Quite informative and the meeting of minds has been something a number of us have done online and in person to gain better insight into our small similar businesses.  Thank you for sharing your detailed approach to increasing organic traffic...content still is king.


Sometimes considered to be a part of SEM, social media sites like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Delicious have search fields and also pass authority to sites through links. Making sure your content and links are placed (where necessary) on these social media sites can increase your influence in user search engine queries. SMM is a rapidly growing area of Internet marketing but to discuss it further is beyond the scope of this Guide.
I agree with the point that a small or medium-sized business will have limits for budget and resources in generating brand search, but I wouldn't say that stops them from potentially producing huge growth there if they do something interesting/innovative etc. I can think of quite a few small to medium sized brands that have more name recognition than larger companies in their space. The challenge is that many of those brands are led by people who are very good at generating marketing and publicity - it's harder for small brands to be able to afford to pay for a top level consultant or agency.
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.

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.


The position of a link on a search results page is important. Depending on the search term, organic search results often make up only a small portion of the page. Since ads are at the top of the results page, on a device with a relatively small display -- such as a notebook, tablet or smartphone -- the visible organic search results may consist of only one or two items.
Think about this. Where do you first turn to when you have a problem or when you’re curious about a topic? Google, right? It’s a no-brainer. Search engines are the ideal matchmakers between you and potential customers. In fact, 93% of all online interactions begin with a search engine. To leave this prospects in the dust is to leave revenue on the table. But here’s where search engines and organic traffic give you a real marketing edge.

Whether it may be on social media or your blog, it’s important to publish evergreen posts that do not contain an expiration date. These posts should be engaging and stand out for your readers to stay intrigued. If you’re having trouble of thinking about what to post, consider content that is educational and fun. Statistics show that users tend to share more positive posts than negative ones.

Remember that users enter search words into search engines based on their interest. The matching keywords and phrases you choose for your campaigns help determine if your ad will display when users search online. But be aware, other advertisers may also be using the same keywords. That creates competition with your ad campaign. What can you do to win? One solution is keyword bidding.
You can then use the Data Cube to uncover topics relevant to prospects later in the buyer’s journey, such as your brand versus a competitor or case studies illustrating the value you provide for customers. Since your organic search research will help you understand what people are interested in reading, your emails will be more targeted and helpful, boosting your success rates.
Quick question. Do you ever click on the paid results when you conduct a search? It turns out, most users don’t. People typically bypass paid results and click on the top organic results. I get it. They’re looking for the most relevant and trustworthy answers to their problems. A top result that appears to be bought doesn’t appeal to them as much as an organic result. That’s where the credibility factor comes into play. It’s why 75% of clicks are organic.
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.
We're also going to have to both educate small businesses about how to optimize their GMB listings as well as why it's important and smart agencies will have to expand their GMB local listings services to include pakages that include optimizations, and monitoring of clients' GMB listings. I think the more areas of online marketing an agency that serves the small business and local business markets can have service offerings in and branded, proprietary products that help those small and local businesses compete with the larger companies, the more successful they'll be.

Let’s assume that your goal is customer acquisition. You know you’ve acquired a customer when you make a sale. So, you’d set up a sales conversion goal. To do that, click on “New Goal.” In the goal setup section, you can either select “template” or “custom.” Custom gives you more flexibility, so go with that option. Go on to the “goal description.” This is where you define your goal by naming it and selecting the type. For customer acquisition, you want to select “Destination.”


While inbound links are important, backlinks are just as important, but a little more difficult to acquire. We already went over how backlinks are important for building your domain authority, but the process to acquiring them can cost you hundreds. If you don’t have a budget for backlinks, try building relationships with other relevant quality websites that will link to your webpage.
That's why it's necessary to always stay abreast of developments in the SEO world, so that you can see these algorithm updates coming or you can determine what to do once they’ve been released. The WordStream blog is a great resource for SEO updates, but we also recommend Search Engine Land and Search Engine Roundtable for news on updates. Glenn Gabe of G-Squared Interactive is also a great resource for analyzing the causes and impact of algorithm updates.
Organic traffic, on the other hand, are those visits which are tracked by another entity — usually because they have arrived through search engines — but also from other sources. Hubspot’s definition emphasizes the term “non-paid visits,” because paid search ads are considered a category of their own. But this is where the lines between direct and organic start to get little blurry.
Here’s the thing. Your web visitors aren’t homogeneous. This means that everyone accesses your site by taking a different path. You may not even be able to track that first point of contact for every visitor. Maybe they first heard of you offline. But in most cases, you can track that first touch point. The benefit? You can meet your potential customers exactly where they are.

You can also make sure that you’re not bleeding revenue due to friction somewhere along that path. How does that work? When you focus on organic search traffic, you’re compelled to take the battle to multiple marketing fronts. While SEO outperforms all other channels regarding ROI, it doesn’t always work in isolation. Email marketing, content marketing, social media, and other channels can all serve your SEO strategy. I’ll tell you something about marketers who are truly worth their stuff.
As pointed out, they are certainly not the same, but it might not be a bad idea to track and report on the direct traffic. If there has been outreach done and the company is mentioned in print with a URL, direct traffic (along with some search traffic on the URL or business name itself) is likely to go up. If your email newsletters are not tagged, they're likely to show up under direct traffic. Depending on your role, some of what you do under the greater SEO/inbound marketing role can show up under the direct traffic.
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.

I'm thinking about "less to do" (linking-social media) sites with physical products … Amazon and other merchants. And adding a PPC campaign instead of using social media and constantly toiling away building links and writing articles. Is there an easy way to get sites like this to rank while profiting with some paid traffic? Your opinion on this dilemma .. SEO vs PAID traffic or both would be much appreciated.

According to a Google study, paid search ads with an accompanying organic search result only occur 19% of the time, on average. Nine percent of the time a search ad shows with an organic ad in the top rank. What is surprising to many of us is the growth in incremental clicks when they appear together. Even the first organic ranking can benefit from an accompanying ad. Google’s results showed that 50% of ad clicks did not replace the clicks on the first organic search listing when the ads didn’t appear. The study found that 82% of ad clicks are incremental when the associated organic result is ranked between 2 and 4, and 96% of clicks are incremental when the brand’s organic result was 5 or below.
While organic search has the advantage of being free and can be influenced by your website content, it is limited to the number of people searching for your business or the products and services you offer. Paid search advertising allows you to reach a broader target audience which has more potential customers who may not be aware of your business, all while providing you full control over your messaging and costs.
In addition to giving you insight into the search volume and competition level of keywords, most keyword research tools will also give you detailed information about the average or current estimated CPC for particular keywords are. This is particularly important for businesses with smaller ad budgets and this feature allows you to predict whether certain keywords will be truly beneficial to your ad campaigns or if they’ll cost too much.

In 1998, two graduate students at Stanford University, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, developed "Backrub", a search engine that relied on a mathematical algorithm to rate the prominence of web pages. The number calculated by the algorithm, PageRank, is a function of the quantity and strength of inbound links.[21] PageRank estimates the likelihood that a given page will be reached by a web user who randomly surfs the web, and follows links from one page to another. In effect, this means that some links are stronger than others, as a higher PageRank page is more likely to be reached by the random web surfer.


You can also use organic to increase audience engagement with your content. For example, let’s say you’re a ticketing website for sporting events and you know that some of your followers are rugby fanatics. If you have a new blog interviewing Dylan Hartley (current England captain), then it makes sense to personally contact them (or at least key influencers) via their preferred social network and tell them about the blog, and ask them to comment/share. It’s personal and increases the chance they’ll see/read your content.
But search ranking is competitive, so naturally, it’s not easy to claim that top spot in organic search. That’s why many marketers and website owners pay to play, and why so many people choose the Pay Per Click (PPC) route. It’s fast. It’s effective. It’s high-visibility for your business. The caveat? You stop paying, and your visibility goes **POOF**.

The piece on generating demand for branded queries rather than just product-based ones is particularly interesting here. It sounds as though it'll be more important than ever to have a strong brand in order to succeed (rather than just having a well-optimized site -- and ideally, having the strategic, technical, and creative sides all working together cohesively). Perhaps it's possible that brand exposure through things like answer boxes can still deliver some value too, even if it's difficult to measure, and CTRs are diminished?
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.
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