As a SEO analyst the fact that recent changes Google has made has made it hard for websites to rank scares me a bit but on a second thought I see a lot of opportunity here for growth. Because as SEO gets more challenging true meaningful strategies are now needed to optimize a site rather than just link building and basic on page. SEOrs really need to understand the nature of a client’s business, work on their buyer’s persona & understand their clients Goals. I am a big fan of Point #2 & #3 you highlighted under potential solutions. Local businesses (LB) really need to setup up and take full advantage of Google My Business (unfortunately I don’t see many LBs doing that). With point #1 i.e. demand generation, I am bit confused about how that strategy will unfold for small businesses. This would mean a lot more investment from their end on building their brand equity and brand awareness, but some businesses don’t really have that kind of funding. I mean yes, they can implement aggressive social media strategies and take advantage of GMB but that will still be very challenging I feel. Maybe a bit more information on how we can generate demand for small businesses be helpful!
Together is better! For many businesses, the best approach is a mix of both organic and paid search results. The advantage of this approach is that organic rankings give a business credibility and evergreen search results. Paid search (PPC) provides immediate top-of-the-page listings and greater click through rates, i.e., sales, when consumers are ready to purchase.

Well as noted in the post it is not just above the links that was only one key part of a wider strategy. This website in question has deep levels of content. So it is not just about a blog section, they have numerous high quality content sections we have developed over time. It would not be advisable ever to attack competitors sites with low quality links.
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:
Google has the larger market share by some way (in the UK it holds 98 per cent of the mobile search market and 90 per cent across all platforms) so it’s fair to say there is potential for more eyes on the ad. Bing’s interface is also less swanky than that of Google’s but, as mentioned, it’s worth giving Bing a shot and enabling yourself to be in two places instead of one.

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.
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).
Early versions of search algorithms relied on webmaster-provided information such as the keyword meta tag or index files in engines like ALIWEB. Meta tags provide a guide to each page's content. Using metadata to index pages was found to be less than reliable, however, because the webmaster's choice of keywords in the meta tag could potentially be an inaccurate representation of the site's actual content. Inaccurate, incomplete, and inconsistent data in meta tags could and did cause pages to rank for irrelevant searches.[10][dubious – discuss] Web content providers also manipulated some attributes within the HTML source of a page in an attempt to rank well in search engines.[11] By 1997, search engine designers recognized that webmasters were making efforts to rank well in their search engine, and that some webmasters were even manipulating their rankings in search results by stuffing pages with excessive or irrelevant keywords. Early search engines, such as Altavista and Infoseek, adjusted their algorithms to prevent webmasters from manipulating rankings.[12]
The term “organic” refers to something having the characteristics of an organism. Although black hat SEO methods may boost a website’s search engine page rank in the short term, these methods could also get the site banned from the search engines altogether. However, it is more likely that readers will recognize the low quality of sites employing black hat SEO at the expense of the reader experience, which will reduce the site’s traffic and page rank over time.
H1 and H2 title tags are names for the two most important types of titles in your website. H1 tags are your main titles – usually large or bolded on a website, and at the top – and H2 tags are secondary titles that clarify your main title, or might be the titles to different page sections. To utilize these sections effectively, you can use the format “Business | Keyword” as your H1 tag. For example, if my business name was “Emily’s Images” and my keyword was “Atlanta wedding photography,” my title would look like “Emily’s Images | Atlanta wedding photography”.

Anchor text is the visible words and characters that hyperlinks display when linking to another page. Using descriptive, relevant anchor text helps Google determine what the page being linked to is ?about. When you use internal links (links on web pages that point to other pages on the same web site), you should use anchor text that is a close variation of your target keywords for that page, instead of phrases like click here or download here . But at the same time, avoid overuse of exact match keywords. Using close variations will help you rank better for more keywords.
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.
Many people also search specifically for services within their area. Utilizing keywords such as “wedding photography Atlanta” instead of just “wedding photography” can help you face local competition better. Setting up a Google My Business page is also a tool that will help your business pop up in localized searches. It’s free to set up, and requires a physical address for your business.
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.
With more and more content being created on Facebook every day, organic reach is steadily declining. That’s why you might want to consider using Facebook’s paid advertising options to promote and increase the reach of your posts. While organic posts only get shown to your own Facebook fans, paid ads allow you to target people who have not liked your page but have similar interests and/or demographics.
The second is to really avoid promoting yourself, or your services, or your business, in these groups when you first join them. Like with any social network, you really need to build trust. And the best way to do that is to simply engage with the content that’s already there. Start replying and making genuine comments about the content being posted by people that could be prospects for you.
Organic is different. Matching keywords to user intent means you may be present in many searches. The user may find you consistently, and once they get to your site, they are more likely to stay. Organic users are still your best long-term customers. In my experience, they have lower bounce rates and more pages visited, and they are more likely to return.
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