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?
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]
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.
Most organic sales (93 percent) take place through conventional and natural food supermarkets and chains, according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA). OTA estimates the remaining 7 percent of U.S. organic food sales occur through farmers' markets, foodservice, and marketing channels other than retail stores. One of the most striking differences between conventional and organic food marketing is the use of direct markets—Cornell University estimates that only about 1.6 percent of U.S. fresh produce sales are through direct sales. The number of farmers' markets in the United States has grown steadily from 1,755 markets in 1994, when USDA began to track them, to over 8,144 in 2013. Participating farmers are responding to heightened demand for locally grown organic product. A USDA survey of market managers. ERS research found that demand for organic products was strong or moderate in most of the farmers' markets surveyed around the country, and that managers felt more organic farmers were needed to meet consumer demand in many States. See the ERS report for more on this topic:
Social Media Marketing (SMM): Focuses on branding, reputation enhancement and enhanced customer service via social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Smaller SMM channels include Digg, Delicious, Wikipedia, StumbleUpon and MySpace. Social networks are visited by a collective total of over one-billion people. Thus, even the simplest marketing efforts, like paid advertising, reach potentially large audiences.

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By relying so much on factors such as keyword density which were exclusively within a webmaster's control, early search engines suffered from abuse and ranking manipulation. To provide better results to their users, search engines had to adapt to ensure their results pages showed the most relevant search results, rather than unrelated pages stuffed with numerous keywords by unscrupulous webmasters. This meant moving away from heavy reliance on term density to a more holistic process for scoring semantic signals.[13] Since the success and popularity of a search engine is determined by its ability to produce the most relevant results to any given search, poor quality or irrelevant search results could lead users to find other search sources. Search engines responded by developing more complex ranking algorithms, taking into account additional factors that were more difficult for webmasters to manipulate. In 2005, an annual conference, AIRWeb, Adversarial Information Retrieval on the Web was created to bring together practitioners and researchers concerned with search engine optimization and related topics.[14]


Organic products have shifted from being a lifestyle choice for a small share of consumers to being consumed at least occasionally by a majority of Americans. National surveys conducted by the Hartman Group and Food Marketing Institute during the early 2000s found that two-thirds of surveyed shoppers bought organically grown foods. For a literature review of organic consumer studies, see the ERS report:
With organic search, you don’t have to outspend your competitors to outrank them. Your competitors can’t recreate the content experience that you use to drive organic traffic.  This one is major. PPC is easy to replicate and reverse engineer. Many spy tools allow you to dissect paid campaigns to see what’s working and what’s not. You can get insight into what ad creatives generate the most clicks.

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.

Hubspot found that their articles up to 2500 words drive the most traffic. Similarly, posts with more than 2500 words generated more social shares and links. Naturally, it takes some investment to create that quality of content. The key is to come up with evergreen ideas. This way, your investment will more than pay for itself because your content will be serving your business goals years down the line. Put people first. The thing about search engines and how they rank content? It’s unpredictable. But one thing will remain constant. The job of a search engine is to connect users with the most relevant and useful information. If your content serves that purpose, you don’t have to fear algorithm changes.
Movies: a great movie experience gets people talking about it + public relations (TV show appearances or for example, People naming Gwyneth Paltrow the most beautiful woman in the world when Iron Man 3 came out). Advertising just helps to spark word of mouth. The point is to spark word of mouth, because people don’t often see movies alone. They take their family, friends or a date. Those people will base their decision either purely on their recommendation, or by going online and looking for a preview or reading about it, which is also organic marketing. The difference is this: paid advertising will only get the movie so far; organic marketing is what will multiply sales. Money only buys the ad spot, it doesn’t guarantee a return on that ad; the quality of the ad and the storytelling in it is what makes it effective or not.
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.
Those who communicate value, attract others who seek that value in that topic. Those who are in the know, have an edge over those who don’t know, and that’s valuable. It helps people get more of what they want and like, and reduce their risk and negative experiences. In business, it’s profitable to have more of the right information than your competitors ahead of time (as long as it’s done and used legally to avoid fines and reprimands like with insider trading). Having valuable information first means you can make moves and investments before competitors, to buy cheaper and/or sell higher.

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.
You could get even more specific by narrowing it down to customer base. Is there a specific group of clients you tend to serve? Try including that in your long-tail key phrase. For example: “SEO agency for non-profits in Albuquerque NM.” That’s a key phrase you’re a lot more likely to rank for. Not to mention it will also attract way more targeted, organic traffic than a broad key phrase like “SEO agency.”
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.
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.
Hi SEO 4 Attorneys, it could be any thing is this for your site for a clients site.It could be an attempt at negative SEO from a competitor? The thing is people may try to push 100's of spammy links to a site in hopes to knock it down. In the end of the day my best advice is to monitor your link profile on a weekly basis. Try to remove negative links where possible if you cant remove them then opt for the disavow tool as a last resort. 
The last thing you need to do is evaluate the results and simply do it all over again. You will need to be constantly reassessing your organic marketing plan. The situation, audience, and goals will be constantly changing. Your marketing plan will need to change to adapt to this flux. You should reevaluate your organic marketing strategy at least every quarter.
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.
New zero-result SERPs. We absolutely saw those for the first time. Google rolled them back after rolling them out. But, for example, if you search for the time in London or a Lagavulin 16, Google was showing no results at all, just a little box with the time and then potentially some AdWords ads. So zero organic results, nothing for an SEO to even optimize for in there.
This is a crucial area. If you do not have schema markup and rel="author", you are costing your business money. It is as simple as that. As an example, say I want to make spaghetti (pasta) for dinner I search for “Spaghetti Recipe” and instantly I see some great markup in play, but one competitor has no markup and no rel="author" they are losing business in my eyes. Wouldn't you agree?.
By 2014, people were seeing approximately 5,000 advertisements every day, according to statistics from the Content Marketing Institute. Faced with that kind of competition for an audience’s attention, there are two common approaches: paid marketing and organic marketing. Paid marketing involves assigning a budget to your advertising campaign and paying various platforms for the promotion.
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.

In 2014, BrightEdge published research that showed that 51% of channel traffic came from organic search and that it was far and away the largest channel. In the intervening years there were significant search algorithm changes that dramatically altered the layout and ranking of the search engine results pages and saw an increase in the space taken by Local, Videos, Images, Ads, and Quick Answers.
Search engines use complex mathematical algorithms to guess which websites a user seeks. In this diagram, if each bubble represents a website, programs sometimes called spiders examine which sites link to which other sites, with arrows representing these links. Websites getting more inbound links, or stronger links, are presumed to be more important and what the user is searching for. In this example, since website B is the recipient of numerous inbound links, it ranks more highly in a web search. And the links "carry through", such that website C, even though it only has one inbound link, has an inbound link from a highly popular site (B) while site E does not. Note: Percentages are rounded.
People are more receptive to hearing these marketing messages because they are more natural and organic. They’re not paid for and stuffed in their faces through interruption marketing. An indelible experience has intrinsic emotional and psychological value, as people enjoy it. They then feel emotionally compelled to share their experience with others that they have a close relationship with as part of relating, so that they can share in the emotional experience too. This is done through conversation, phone, text, email, Facebook shares, Tweets, and the like.
Organic search is the backbone of a strong digital marketing strategy. It not only drives people to your website, but the insights offered through search trends can help you properly plan and execute your broader marketing course. Brands that want to employ strong marketing tactics should not neglect the power of organic search and the Data Cube in guiding their success.
One of the reasons for a traffic drop can also be due to your site losing links. You may be seeing a direct loss of that referral traffic, but there could also be indirect effects. When your site loses inbound links, it tells Google that your site isn't as authoritative anymore, which leads to lower search rankings that in turn lead to traffic drops (because fewer people are finding your site if it's not ranked as highly and more).
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.

Though it can take a lot of time and effort to develop one, having an organic marketing strategy is important for any business to find success. Essentially, organic marketing is about growing your audience naturally versus using paid advertising and marketing tactics. To build a successful strategy, you’ll need to accumulate a variety of string organic marketing ideas that includes social media, search, and email marketing. But why should I look into organic marketing when I can just pay for everything? That’s a great question. The thing is organic marketing can bring a lot of benefits for your business including more authentic customer engagement and brand loyalty. Now, we’re not saying to cut paid advertising from your plan but a mix of organic and paid marketing strategies will be very effective. Here are some tips that you can use to improve your organic marketing strategy.

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.
The first step that I take is to do a quick Google search to find pages on my domain where I've mentioned the keyword in question so that I can add an internal link. To do this, I'll use the following search query, replacing DOMAIN with your domain name (e.g. matthewbarby.com) and KEYWORD with the keyword you're targeting (e.g. "social media strategy"):
Or, you could make up a fun game where the first person posts a picture illustrating their pet’s name. The next person has to guess their pet’s name based on the picture. So, if I had a dog named Spot, I might post a picture of a spot. (I did say to keep it simple!) Of course, it’s easy to guess, but it’s also fun and all you have left to do is sit back and watch the comments roll in.
You also should not underestimate the impact that organic search can have on the success of your website. Our research here at BrightEdge has found that about 51 percent of the traffic on the average site comes from the SERPs. In other words, more people land on your site because of the results pages for particular queries than because of your email, social media, and paid marketing efforts combined.
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