The piece on generating demand for branded queries rather than just product-based ones is particularly interesting here. It sounds as though it'll be more important than ever to have a strong brand in order to succeed (rather than just having a well-optimized site -- and ideally, having the strategic, technical, and creative sides all working together cohesively). Perhaps it's possible that brand exposure through things like answer boxes can still deliver some value too, even if it's difficult to measure, and CTRs are diminished?
Many page owners think that organic reach (the number of unique individuals who see your post pop up in their news feeds) is enough to make an impact. This was true in the first few years of Facebook but is no longer the case. Facebook, and many other social media networks is truly a pay-to-play network. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are all on algorithmic feeds, meaning posts are shown to the user based on past behavior and preferences instead of in chronological order. Organic posts from your Facebook page only reach about 2% of your followers, and that number is dropping. Facebook recently announced that, in order to correct a past metrics error, it is changing the way it reports viewable impressions, and organic reach will be 20% lower on average when this change takes effect.
That’s not to say that there isn’t the same kind of competitive intelligence where SEO is concerned. In fact, I’m a big fan of analyzing your competitor’s SEO landscape. You can check what keywords they’re targeting and their sources of referral traffic to strengthen your strategy. But the bottom line is this: Your competitors can’t steal your content. The experience that you provide to users is unique to you.The more organic traffic you have, the more currency you have in the online space.
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Nice post. I was wondering if all this content of your strategy was been writien in blog of the site, or if you added to content in some other specific parts of the sites. I don't believe 100% in the strategy of reomoving links. If Google just penalize you taking into account your inbound likes, It would be so easy to attack your competitors just by buying dirty link packages targeting to their sites.
Nathan Gotch is the founder of Gotch SEO, a white label SEO services provider and SEO training company based in St. Louis. Gotch SEO is now one of the top SEO blogs in the world and over 300 entrepreneurs have joined his SEO training platform, Gotch SEO Academy. Nathan’s SEO strategies and advice have also been featured on Forbes, Entrepreneur, Business.com, and Search Engine Journal.

Social media changes so quickly that it can be difficult to keep up with terminology and best practices. One of the biggest points of confusion that I see with business owners and marketers is the distinction and strategic balance between organic and paid social media. Understanding this is essential to creating a successful social media marketing strategy.  Organic and paid social media have distinct advantages but work best when implemented together. Every popular social media outlet has paid and organic elements, but since Facebook is the largest social network (both in terms of users and advertisers) I’m going to focus on that platform in this article.
Black hat SEO refers to the practice of trying to trick the search engines into giving you higher rankings by using unethical tactics, such as buying links. The risk is just too great. Even if you enjoy a temporary boost in rankings due to black hat tactics, it’s likely to be short lived. Google is getting better and better at spotting dirty tricks and sooner or later the progress you made will be wiped out by an algorithm update, or worse, your site will get removed from the index altogether.
Like I said at the beginning, building organic traffic is hard. Anything that promises a shortcut to an avalanche of traffic will more than likely lead to a penalty down the road. Embrace the daily grind of creating great content that helps users and provides a solution to what they’re looking for. In the end that will drive more organic traffic than any shortcut ever will.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Keyword research is one of the most important thing you need to do before producing any content. Understanding what your target audience is searching for and what content to produce for them is vital in getting your content found, read and shared. In this session, Sameen shares how to do a keyword research and her strategies for finding the best keywords for your brand.

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!

As small businesses arise, they start to think of ways on how to compete with bigger brands. One way to do this is to go digital. As internet and high-tech gadgets are highly accessible, consumers are now just one click away. Given this, once you go into the web, there is a high chance that you will be able to capture the market you are trying to reach. To help you decide whether to seek help from a professional SEO consultant or go the easy way of pay-per-click (PPC) or maybe even have both, we have laid down some pros and cons of both SEO and PPC.
Another one of the benefits of SEM is that people who see your PPC ads are those most likely to want to buy your product or service. PPC ads require you to choose a geographic location and specific search queries to target. As a result, you can be sure that anyone who clicks on your ad is not arbitrarily surfing the web, but rather, is looking for your product or service and in a position to do so.
I'm thinking about "less to do" (linking-social media) sites with physical products … Amazon and other merchants. And adding a PPC campaign instead of using social media and constantly toiling away building links and writing articles. Is there an easy way to get sites like this to rank while profiting with some paid traffic? Your opinion on this dilemma .. SEO vs PAID traffic or both would be much appreciated.

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.
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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