In February 2011, Google announced the Panda update, which penalizes websites containing content duplicated from other websites and sources. Historically websites have copied content from one another and benefited in search engine rankings by engaging in this practice. However Google implemented a new system which punishes sites whose content is not unique.[35] The 2012 Google Penguin attempted to penalize websites that used manipulative techniques to improve their rankings on the search engine.[36] Although Google Penguin has been presented as an algorithm aimed at fighting web spam, it really focuses on spammy links[37] by gauging the quality of the sites the links are coming from. The 2013 Google Hummingbird update featured an algorithm change designed to improve Google's natural language processing and semantic understanding of web pages. Hummingbird's language processing system falls under the newly recognised term of 'Conversational Search' where the system pays more attention to each word in the query in order to better match the pages to the meaning of the query rather than a few words [38]. With regards to the changes made to search engine optimization, for content publishers and writers, Hummingbird is intended to resolve issues by getting rid of irrelevant content and spam, allowing Google to produce high-quality content and rely on them to be 'trusted' authors.
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.

Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is the most common form of paid SEM. PPC ads are the ones you see at the top of your Google search with the word “ad” written discreetly next to the link. Search engines such as Google sell keywords to the highest bidder. One of the nice things about this form of advertising is that – as the name suggests – you only pay for the ad when someone actually clicks on it.


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.
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.
On the other hand, structured data are also a real asset to increase your organic traffic and improve your CTR. They refers to values that help search engines categorize and index your content in a creative ways for the user. While there is no direct correlation between those data and a SEO improvement, structured data can really help you boost your visibility in SERPs.

Hi Matt, realizing now how difficult it is to run a blog, trying to promote it and carry on with your daily activities. I would say it's a full time job. Once you thing you done learning about something, something else is coming :). My blog is about preparing for an ironman so I need to add the training on top of it. Thanks a lot for sharing this article with us so we can keep focus!!!
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.
Organic search is a method businesses use when they want to rank high on a search engine’s results page without having to invest in an ad campaign. Usually, this method involves using optimization practices on web pages and blogs and linking strategies, and conducting industry keyword searches that search engines view as valuable. Search algorithms are not entirely known, but marketing experts carefully study results to gather insight into how Google and other search engines rank pages. Some of the organic search engine optimization practices also include using relevant keywords on a page title, regularly posting optimized-blog articles to your site, and engaging with customers on social media platforms. This process takes time. The more you post and optimize your pages, the higher your results, as search engines see your content as relevant and trustworthy.

Immediate results. Businesses want instant gratification, and that’s completely understandable. While there are no long term benefits to PPC, you will see immediate results – as soon as your ads are approved, they will begin to appear in search engine results. As long as you set up your ad campaign correctly, you can have traffic flowing to your website that same day.


SEO may generate an adequate return on investment. However, search engines are not paid for organic search traffic, their algorithms change, and there are no guarantees of continued referrals. Due to this lack of guarantees and certainty, a business that relies heavily on search engine traffic can suffer major losses if the search engines stop sending visitors.[60] Search engines can change their algorithms, impacting a website's placement, possibly resulting in a serious loss of traffic. According to Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, in 2010, Google made over 500 algorithm changes – almost 1.5 per day.[61] It is considered wise business practice for website operators to liberate themselves from dependence on search engine traffic.[62] In addition to accessibility in terms of web crawlers (addressed above), user web accessibility has become increasingly important for SEO.
This all sounds amazing right? unfortunately, organic marketing is also very difficult to implement and resource intensive. Ranking organically on Google and other search engines can be very hard, especially for competitive keywords such as “buy shoes.” Ultimately you want to rank within the first page, and possibly within the top 3 organic results, but this can be next to impossible when you are competing with large companies that have teams dedicated to ranking their keywords.
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.
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.
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.
To remain competitive on the SERPs, you need to not only have keen insight into your own marketing strategy, but also what others in your industry are doing. You need to be able to pinpoint keywords for which they rank that you are not. You also want to be able to gauge their performance, including their acquisition of Quick Answers and other special features.
Link building is a catchall term for the practice of creating new external links to your site. Beyond creating great content people want to share, guest blogging and asking webmasters from authoritative sites relevant to your business to link back to your pages are great ways to build links. When possible, use keywords are the anchor text for your links, as this will help send signals to Google that your pages are relevant for those terms.
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.

For a small business, it is better to start with Organic SEO because aside from it is a low-cost investment, it will build your internet presence gradually and eventually have a solid foundation in your own niche – provided that you are doing the right way. It is not bad to invest in non-organic. You just have to make sure that you are investing on the right campaigns and not on the overly artificial ways to gain traffic and rank. Avoid investing too much on paid advertising and instead invest on creating relevant and useful content.
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.
In order to optimize your SEO results, it’s important to measure the impact of your efforts on web site traffic and lead/sales generation. Google Webmaster Tools can give you important insight into how your site is functioning and identify potential errors you should correct. An analytics tool such as Google’s Universal Analytics is helpful for measuring changes in search traffic as well as tracking visitors interactions with your web site that are a direct result of SEO. Marketing automation tools and call tracking tools can help you tie leads and sales back to SEO.
Immediate results. Businesses want instant gratification, and that’s completely understandable. While there are no long term benefits to PPC, you will see immediate results – as soon as your ads are approved, they will begin to appear in search engine results. As long as you set up your ad campaign correctly, you can have traffic flowing to your website that same day.

And then on the flip side with partners, it is a little bit different. Again, you can do that education piece, but ultimately offering reciprocation is going to be your best bet. So finding out who the social media manager is for your partner, talking with them, figuring out, ‘Hey, we’re going to retweet you this many times this month, or is there any events that you have coming up that we can help promote?’ And that reciprocation is very natural. It also builds credibility for both organizations. I think there’s a lot of opportunity to engage with your partners as well as amplify their content.

Which one wins in a fight? If I were a betting man, I’d put my money of organic search traffic. As exciting as it is to see a quick surge in traffic from an effective PPC campaign, I’d take sustainability over a short-lived win any day. And that’s just the surface. I’ve gone over several of the benefits that organic search traffic can have on your business. I’m talking about the kind of results that correlate with cold hard ROI.Use the insights, implement the action steps, and stay competitive.


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.
Beyond organic and direct traffic, you must understand the difference between all of your traffic sources and how traffic is classified. Most web analytics platforms, like Google Analytics, utilize an algorithm and flow chart based on the referring website or parameters set within the URL that determine the source of traffic. Here is a breakdown of all sources:
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