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?
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.

Organic search engine optimization (organic SEO) refers to the methods used to obtain a high placement (or ranking) on a search engine results page in unpaid, algorithm-driven results on a given search engine. Methods such as boosting keywords, backlinking and writing high-quality content can all improve a site’s page rank. Black hat SEO methods, such as the use of keyword stuffing and link farming, can also boost organic SEO.

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.


For our client: We rolled out a successful implementation of rel="author" for the three in-house content writers the company had. The client had over 300+ articles made by these content writers over the years and it was possible to implement rel="author" for all the aged articles. I advise anyone who has a large section of content to do so as it will only benefit the website. We were also in the process of rolling out further schema markup to the site's course content as it only has a benefit for CTR.
Guest blogging and infographic distribution are great ways to attract high quality links. Do not focus on the total number of links. Spend your time focused on quality links, from websites that are highly relevant to your business. If any SEO company tells you that they can rank your website virtually overnight you need to turn around and run away…fast. Google will continue to refresh their Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird updates, so make sure that you are focusing on quality rather than quantity.
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.

Organic Search: Organic search results are the listings of Web pages returned by the search engine’s algorithms that closely match the search string of keywords. Marketers use SEO and content assets to get high search engine rankings. The goal is to be on the first page and then move into the top three rankings for specific keywords. That’s because the advantages of organic search are dependent on visibility. The higher the ranking the more pronounced the advantages. They all but disappear if your listing is not on the first page.
An ideal keyword has high monthly searches and a relatively low keyword difficulty. Once you find some keywords that make sense for your business, have a relatively high search volume and a relatively low keyword difficulty, it’s time to research the competition. However, you’ll first want to understand how local searches affect organic search engine optimization.
To find the right people I downloaded a list of some of the most popular users within the community. To do this, I used Screaming Frog SEO Spider to gather a list of all the URLs on the website. I then exported this list into an Excel spreadsheet and filtered the URLs to only show those that were user profile pages. I could do this because all of the profile pages had /user/ within the URL.
With the advanced search feature, I always recommend that after you put in your demographic information, you check the option for second degree connection. And the reason for that is it’s really powerful to be able to ask whoever the mutual connection is to make an introduction, or to use them as a reference in your introduction. I know even for myself that I’m much more likely to respond to someone who knows someone that’s already within my network. And I’ve seen this and I’ve heard about this working really well for a lot of different sales folks, telling me how just even name dropping a single person got them that initial phone call.
The first one is pretty powerful and pretty awesome, which is investing in demand generation, rather than just demand serving, but demand generation for brand and branded product names. Why does this work? Well, because let's say, for example, I'm searching for SEO tools. What do I get? I get back a list of results from Google with a bunch of mostly articles saying these are the top SEO tools. In fact, Google has now made a little one box, card-style list result up at the top, the carousel that shows different brands of SEO tools. I don't think Moz is actually listed in there because I think they're pulling from the second or the third lists instead of the first one. Whatever the case, frustrating, hard to optimize for. Google could take away demand from it or click-through rate opportunity from it.
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]

Back end tools, including Web analytic tools and HTML validators, provide data on a website and its visitors and allow the success of a website to be measured. They range from simple traffic counters to tools that work with log files and to more sophisticated tools that are based on page tagging (putting JavaScript or an image on a page to track actions). These tools can deliver conversion-related information. There are three major tools used by EBSCO: (a) log file analyzing tool: WebTrends by NetiQ; (b) tag-based analytic tool: WebSideStory's Hitbox; and (c) transaction-based tool: TeaLeaf RealiTea. Validators check the invisible parts of websites, highlighting potential problems and many usability issues and ensuring websites meet W3C code standards. Try to use more than one HTML validator or spider simulator because each one tests, highlights, and reports on slightly different aspects of your website.
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.
I'm having a problem that I suspect many marketers share. Quite simply … SEO or just buy the traffic. I noticed that you switched to SEO because you like the passive income component. But when I consider ALL the work and ongoing moving parts to SEO .. visions of the hamster on a treadmill appear in place of couch potato cash. Have you noticed that there is always something new to do … now it's Google+ ect. and "more to do" is surly on it's way. It's reached the point where it's mind numbing.

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.


There are many reasons explaining why advertisers choose the SEM strategy. First, creating a SEM account is easy and can build traffic quickly based on the degree of competition. The shopper who uses the search engine to find information tends to trust and focus on the links showed in the results pages. However, a large number of online sellers do not buy search engine optimization to obtain higher ranking lists of search results, but prefer paid links. A growing number of online publishers are allowing search engines such as Google to crawl content on their pages and place relevant ads on it.[16] From an online seller's point of view, this is an extension of the payment settlement and an additional incentive to invest in paid advertising projects. Therefore, it is virtually impossible for advertisers with limited budgets to maintain the highest rankings in the increasingly competitive search market.
PPC (paid search marketing): PPC (pay per click) advertising involves paying to have search engines display your website offer in or alongside search results. For example, Google's Adwords program will display your ad at the top or right side of the search results page (placement depends on many factors including keywords and quality of ad). Google will also feed your ads to websites running its Adsense program. There are other types of PPC marketing, such as Facebook Ads. In PPC advertising, you pay each time someone clicks on your offer. Paid search differs from organize search in that you're paying to have your website or offer displayed higher in search results.

Like having a good book title, it’s always important to have a strong title for your content. According to Moz, having a strong SEO title is one of the most important on-page SEO element. A proven method to ensure that you’re writing the best possible title is to position the most important keyword first, followed by the second most important, and then the brand name. It’s also important to note that title tags should only be around 50-60 characters long and be very relevant to the content on the page. Apply this seo optimization can help you jump the ranks on search engines.
I’ve always been a believer that hard work gets the best results, and in practice it always ends up being true. On the web it’s no different. If you want more organic traffic, you have to work for it. That means giving your best effort every time, going after opportunities your competitors have missed, being consistent, guest blogging strategically, and staying on Google’s good side.

Of course, there is a lot more that needs to be considered but this is a simple example of how all of these things work together. I would recommend having no less than one page for each step of the organic marketing plan if you are a small business. The larger your business the more planning that you should do. If you do not think through all the details you will miss something that will cost you.

Everyone wants to rank for those broad two or three word key phrases because they tend to have high search volumes. The problem with these broad key phrases is they are highly competitive. So competitive that you may not stand a chance of ranking for them unless you devote months of your time to it. Instead of spending your time going after something that may not even be attainable, go after the low-hanging fruit of long-tail key phrases.


For our client: We rolled out numerous new pieces of content onto their blog and news section; we aimed to make the content creative and funny. As the client was in the careers space we made use of “funny interview questions” and “technical interview questions” style articles. It was amazing that one of the articles even made it to the first page of Reddit. We also pushed out content which was related to various holidays in that year and also specific to the client’s industry and also current trends in the market. 

Make sure you have some good analytics software installed on your website. You will want to know where your traffic is coming from. Is it coming from social media, referrals, search engine queries, or is it direct traffic? It will also help you determine where people are getting lost, or dropping out of the funnel. It can also help you determine what approaches, content, and CTAs are the most effective.
In December 2009, Google announced it would be using the web search history of all its users in order to populate search results.[32] On June 8, 2010 a new web indexing system called Google Caffeine was announced. Designed to allow users to find news results, forum posts and other content much sooner after publishing than before, Google caffeine was a change to the way Google updated its index in order to make things show up quicker on Google than before. According to Carrie Grimes, the software engineer who announced Caffeine for Google, "Caffeine provides 50 percent fresher results for web searches than our last index..."[33] Google Instant, real-time-search, was introduced in late 2010 in an attempt to make search results more timely and relevant. Historically site administrators have spent months or even years optimizing a website to increase search rankings. With the growth in popularity of social media sites and blogs the leading engines made changes to their algorithms to allow fresh content to rank quickly within the search results.[34]
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.

When you’re trying to drive traffic to your website, it’s crucial that you get only relevant people to see your listing. Or else there’s no use getting a ton of visitors. When you’re doing SEO, you may or may not get the right people to visit your website. But it’s not the same with PPC ads. Your ads are laser targeted towards users who are actually searching for your product or service.
So, Google has accepted the reconsideration request, you can now move forward with creating high-quality link building and a content creation strategy. I see every one creating threads about great content marketing examples, but the problem is that most of the time these are big business examples. SME’s and start-ups do not have big dollars to do such things, so the next best thing is to is to create a content market calendar for your clients. 
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.
Hi , the post is really nice , and it made me think if our current strategy is ok or not , 2 things are important " High quality content strategy " and " Good quality Links " now joining those correctly can pose some real challenges , say if we have n no of content writers who are writing for couple of websites, to be generic let’s consider , 1 writer @ 1 website . We have to write make a content strategy for in-house blog of the website to drive authentic traffic on it and a separate content strategy for grabbing  links from some authentic High PR website i.e. CS should be 2 ways , In-house / Outhouse .

Secure (https) to non-secure sites (http): Since Google began emphasizing the importance of having a secure site, more websites are securely hosted, as indicated by the “https” in their URLs. Per the security protocol, however, any traffic going from a secure site to a non-secure site will not pass referral information. For this issue, you can correct by updating your site to be secure through a third-party SSL certificate.
×