Search engines reward you when sites link to yours – they assume that your site must be valuable and you’ll rank higher in search results. And the higher the “rank” of the sites that link to you, the more they count in your own ranking. You want links from popular industry authorities, recognized directories, and reputable companies and organizations.
Solid analysis on this tough topic Rand. It will definitely be interested to see what in-serp features Google continues to add to keep you on their site as opposed to clicking through to a website. I think SEOs need to take more consideration into branding and content marketing tactics in order to supplement potential lost organic traffic as time goes on.
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. 
If both page are closely related (lots of topical overlap), I would merge the unique content from the lower ranking article into the top ranking one, then 301 redirect the lower performing article into the top ranking one. This will make the canonical version more relevant, and give it an immediate authority boost. I would also fetch it right away, do some link building, and possibly a little paid promotion to seed some engagement. Update the time stamp.
Check out the average CPC for some top industries. These are the costs of one click. Mind you, that’s a click that is not guaranteed to convert a customer. With paid campaigns, you have to keep optimizing and testing the ad creative to lower your CPC and increase your CTR. You can imagine that it takes a massive budget to even set a paid campaign in motion. And it requires just as much to keep maintaining it.

Incidentally, according to a June 2013 study by Chitika, 9 out of 10 searchers don't go beyond Google's first page of organic search results, a claim often cited by the search engine optimization (SEO) industry to justify optimizing websites for organic search. Organic SEO describes the use of certain strategies or tools to elevate a website's content in the "free" search results.
It takes skill to drive and convert traffic. If you do it yourself, it takes a significant time investment. If you outsource it, it takes a considerable monetary investment. Either way, you need resources. And you’re doing all this in a highly competitive space. Driving organic traffic is no longer just about deploying keywords. SEO is a lot more nuanced and complex than just targeting keywords. You have to consider different keyword types, the search intent of the user and the stage of awareness of your prospects. It takes time to see results.
While there are several HTML tagging techniques that improve a page’s Google SEO results, creating relevant page content is still the best way to rank high. A big part of content creation is your use of targeted keywords. You should include important keywords in your first 50 words, since early placement can be a signal of relevance. And while you should never repeat keywords too often at the expense of good writing, you should repeat keywords in your content two or three times for short pages and four to six times for longer pages. Also, you may wish to use some keyword variation in your content – such as splitting keywords up – as this could potentially improve your ranking.
● Collect conversion related data from your PPC campaign and use it to convert your organic search visitors better. Also, keywords that worked for you in PPC are best to optimize your website for, so using them for SEO purposes makes sense. Your PPC campaign will end, but the rankings you achieve for the same keyword will remain for quite some time.
For our client: We took the top PPC terms based on conversion and worked these keywords into existing pages on the website. We also created new high-quality content-based pages from these conversion terms. This type of strategy can work very well in assisting overall conversions on the website and driving more revenue. We also conducted a large-scale keyword research project for the client which yielded in uncovering many areas of opportunity for content development and targeting. 
Social media is the easiest and most effective way to push out your SEO-based content. While the incoming links from your social media shares don’t have the same impact as authentic links from high-quality sites, they can influence your bounce rate and time-on-site engagement. If your content is good and people stick around to read it, those engagement metrics communicate value to search engines. Your goal should be to turn your best organic content into social media content so you can then encourage engagement and drive traffic back to your site.

Thanks for the comment, I would not say it is impossible to create high quality backlinks from scratch without content, you just need to do a review on competitor backlinks and see if their are any easy targets. We have had some good luck in the education space acquiring links on the same pages as competitor from PR5+ edu sites. It all revolves around the outreach strategy in which you put in place.
how is this good? What google is doing is atrocious. I’m not interested in what google decides is the right answer. I want to get to a website(s) and search for answers. When I look for a a local business I cannot even get to their website. There are no business phone numbers listed or hours of operations because small business do not have stafff or are not educated about latest google shanagans, time to change search engines.
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.
Guest blogging purely for inbound links is a flawed strategy because the value of those links are going down. However, guest blogging for traffic is still an incredibly viable strategy. While that inbound link you get at the end of a guest post doesn’t have as much SEO value as it used to, it still has the value of exposing your content to a new audience.
This community is full of opportunities if you're a fashion-based retailer. One of the major advantages is the fact that they add links to each of the products that they feature within their outfits - the links go directly to product pages. This is the holy grail for ecommerce SEO, and the traffic those links will bring through will convert at a very high rate.
Let’s say, for example, that you run a construction business that helps with home repairs after natural disasters and you want to advertise that service. The official term for the service is “fire restoration,” but keyword research may indicate that customers in your area search instead for “fire repair” or “repair fire damage to house.” By not optimizing for these two keywords, you’ll lose out on a lot of traffic and potential customers, even if “fire restoration” is technically more correct.
Anyone who types in a search query has a specific intent. And they’re expecting the content that they find in the SERPs to satisfy that intent. If you can understand the search intent of your prospective customers, it will transform your marketing in several ways. You’ll be able to predict what keywords your potential customers are likely to use.  It’s easy to start targeting keywords with no structure or strategy. But that’s a mistake.

An effective tactic to use to improve your SEO analysis is to measure the sources of your visitors and leads. By doing this, you will understand how impactful your tactics and strategy truly is. By using website tools such as Google Analytics and Adobe Omniture, you can learn about your traffic sources which can be helpful in learning if your SEO optimizations are effective. For example, are your users entering your website through your social media posts or are they finding your content through an organic search? Or maybe, you’ll find that your paid marketing tactics are more effective than you’d imagine. The bottom line is tracking your visitors and leads can provide many insights for both your paid and organic marketing strategies.
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?

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.
Before you dig into some of the more technical ways to improve SEO ranking, always remember that writing compelling, high-quality content that attracts interest and compels visitors to share it and link back to it is vital. Good content has the best chance of being viral content, and Google rewards content virality heavily in its rankings algorithm.
Although it may have changed slightly since BrightEdge published its report last year, the data still seem to hold true. Organic is simply better for delivering relevant traffic. The only channel that performs better in some capacities is paid search ads, but that is only for conversions, not overall traffic delivery (Paid Search only accounted for 10 percent of overall total traffic).
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