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.
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 is that you look at who are your current customers, who are your prospects, what groups are they in, and join those same groups if they’re relevant and not too title specific to a marketer or a different field that you’re not in. But really starting with the folks that you already are working with and using them to figure out which groups are most relevant. This is also especially important because I think it was about a year ago, LinkedIn now made all the groups private. So you can’t go in and look at what’s going on in the group. And it’s really hard to know which ones are the best ones to join just by doing simple searches on say the title of the group. So, start with the folks that you know.
hey james - congrats on your success here. just a question about removing crummy links. for my own website, there are hundreds of thousands of backlinks in webmaster tools pointing to my site. The site has no penalties or anything  - the traffic seems to be growing every week. would you recommend hiring someone to go through the link profile anyway to remove crummy links that just occur naturally?
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.
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.

Organic-search traffic is the only search traffic you should be interested in. This is the traffic you get without any direct action on your part. It’s not something you can achieve with ease, though. The statistics say that 83 percent of organic clicks go to the first four results under most categories on search engines. So, to see your site attain that status, lay the foundations well in advance for the traffic you want.
With the development of this system, the price is growing under the high level of competition. Many advertisers prefer to expand their activities, including increasing search engines and adding more keywords. The more advertisers are willing to pay for clicks, the higher the ranking for advertising, which leads to higher traffic.[15] PPC comes at a cost. The higher position is likely to cost $5 for a given keyword, and $4.50 for a third location. A third advertiser earns 10% less than the top advertiser, while reducing traffic by 50%.[15] The investors must consider their return on investment and then determine whether the increase in traffic is worth the increase.
Great topic Rand! I have found that being well-versed in PPC and Content Marketing have not only helped my expertise grow as an SEO, but are also great options to fall back on when offering solutions to clients, depending on the SEO opportunity available. It will be interesting to see if Organic Search Traffic will continue to drop or bounce back overall though. Solids tips and insight, and glad to see you back for a WBF!
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.
Nathan: You’ve mentioned status updates. One of the things I’ve been doing with the podcast is creating a video introduction. It was last fall that LinkedIn started having native uploads of videos. And I’ve been noticing anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 views per post that I upload, where nobody was checking out my videos or status updates when I was doing it in the past. That might be something people think about, too, is adding the video element into their thought leadership post or their status updates. What are your thoughts on that?
I would also advise to continue doing what works. If something you have rolled out generates great traffic and links bring out a new version of the content, for example the 2012 version worked effectively bring out the 2013 version of the content. Another effective strategy is to make the piece of content into an evergreen article which you add to over time so it is always up to date.

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.
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.
Page and Brin founded Google in 1998.[22] Google attracted a loyal following among the growing number of Internet users, who liked its simple design.[23] Off-page factors (such as PageRank and hyperlink analysis) were considered as well as on-page factors (such as keyword frequency, meta tags, headings, links and site structure) to enable Google to avoid the kind of manipulation seen in search engines that only considered on-page factors for their rankings. Although PageRank was more difficult to game, webmasters had already developed link building tools and schemes to influence the Inktomi search engine, and these methods proved similarly applicable to gaming PageRank. Many sites focused on exchanging, buying, and selling links, often on a massive scale. Some of these schemes, or link farms, involved the creation of thousands of sites for the sole purpose of link spamming.[24]
For our client: We monitored everything on a daily basis. If something came up, which needed to be fixed, we were quick to implement it with the development team at the business. We also rolled out numerous campaigns multiple times as they worked effectively the first time around in generating significant traffic so it was second nature to do the same thing twice.

However, with a properly created PPC campaign, results can be analyzed and any conversion-related problems can fixed within no time. It shouldn’t be surprising to see massive results from a PPC campaign that’s been running only for a few weeks. When and if you have the budget, getting quick results with PPC is not only possible, it’s completely doable.
Direct traffic is defined as visits with no referring website. When a visitor follows a link from one website to another, the site of origin is considered the referrer. These sites can be search engines, social media, blogs, or other websites that have links to other websites. Direct traffic categorizes visits that do not come from a referring URL.
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