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?

Paid Search (PPC): Paid search results are advertisements. A business pays to have their ads displayed when users do a search containing specific keywords. The ads are typically displayed above and to the right of organic search results. The exact placement of the ads is determined by both a bidding process and quality score. The advantages and drawbacks of paid search are often the opposite of organic listings.
This refers to your ability to rank for certain keywords. For instance, say you sell shoes online, you will need to optimize your site, backlinks, website speed and much more so that you can “rank” high for certain keywords that are highly relevant to your business. Relevant keywords may include “buy shoes,” “shoe sale,” “where to buy shoes,” and so on. Once you can rank high (top page) for these keywords, you will enjoy an increase in traffic and business as a result.
Chrys was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug at an early age. At age 10, she bought soccer cards in bulk and sold them in school. Later, she turned down a university scholarship and moved to Thailand to start an apparel business. By age 27, she started and ran two online businesses while living around the world. She now runs Chrys Media, an educational company that runs online conferences, courses, and workshops for entrepreneurs and marketers.
The Featured Snippet section appearing inside the first page of Google is an incredibly important section to have your content placed within. I did a study of over 5,000 keywords where HubSpot.com ranked on page 1 and there was a Featured Snippet being displayed. What I found was that when HubSpot.com was ranking in the Featured Snippet, the average click-through rate to the website increased by over 114%.
Organic search is the backbone of a strong digital marketing strategy. It not only drives people to your website, but the insights offered through search trends can help you properly plan and execute your broader marketing course. Brands that want to employ strong marketing tactics should not neglect the power of organic search and the Data Cube in guiding their success.
In 1998, two graduate students at Stanford University, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, developed "Backrub", a search engine that relied on a mathematical algorithm to rate the prominence of web pages. The number calculated by the algorithm, PageRank, is a function of the quantity and strength of inbound links.[21] PageRank estimates the likelihood that a given page will be reached by a web user who randomly surfs the web, and follows links from one page to another. In effect, this means that some links are stronger than others, as a higher PageRank page is more likely to be reached by the random web surfer.

Your keyword research will determine whether or not your search optimization effort will be a success or a failure. Many businesses make the mistake of basing their keywords on just the search volume. This often leads to attempting to rank for keywords that are very difficult and costly to move up, or even keywords that aren’t “buyer” keywords and just send useless traffic to the website.
It’s an investment. Whether you have a trusted Internet marketing company handle your SEO activities or you travel the journey solo, you are making a solid investment in your website. Every time you optimize a landing page or write a blog post, you’re introducing new and relevant content to your website. Search engines love recent, relevant content.
Facebook Ads and other social media ad platforms, for example, are pay-per-click platforms that do not fall under the SEM category. Instead of showing your ads to people who are searching for similar content like search ads do, social media sites introduce your product to people who happen to be just browsing through their feeds. These are two very, very different types of online advertising.
Every online marketer swears by search engine optimization and its effectiveness. Prior to the infamous Google Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates, SEO made a lot of black hat or unethical marketers rich. But things are no longer that easy. Google has upped the game, and now, it’s all about the kind of quality and the amount of value you’re able to deliver.
Hi , the post is really nice , and it made me think if our current strategy is ok or not , 2 things are important " High quality content strategy " and " Good quality Links " now joining those correctly can pose some real challenges , say if we have n no of content writers who are writing for couple of websites, to be generic let’s consider , 1 writer @ 1 website . We have to write make a content strategy for in-house blog of the website to drive authentic traffic on it and a separate content strategy for grabbing  links from some authentic High PR website i.e. CS should be 2 ways , In-house / Outhouse .
In the zero-results sets, Google was still willing to show AdWords, which means if we have customer targets, we can use remarketed lists for search advertising (RLSA), or we can run paid ads and still optimize for those. We could also try and claim some of the data that might show up in zero-result SERPs. We don't yet know what that will be after Google rolls it back out, but we'll find out in the future.
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.
To drive instant traffic to your website: Unlike organic social marketing, paid social ads instantly deliver results. The moment your ad goes live on social channels, you will get to see a large number of visitors on your web pages. Paid social ads are therefore ideal when you are planning to make a new announcement or if you are launching a new product/service for your brand.
To do this, I often align the launch of my content with a couple of guest posts on relevant websites to drive a load of relevant traffic to it, as well as some relevant links. This has a knock-on effect toward the organic amplification of the content and means that you at least have something to show for the content (in terms of ROI) if it doesn't do as well as you expect organically.
But search ranking is competitive, so naturally, it’s not easy to claim that top spot in organic search. That’s why many marketers and website owners pay to play, and why so many people choose the Pay Per Click (PPC) route. It’s fast. It’s effective. It’s high-visibility for your business. The caveat? You stop paying, and your visibility goes **POOF**.
However, you can use paid campaigns to reinforce core messages that you’ve shared via organic posts. For example, if the company has been involved in a public crisis (think Volkswagen and the emissions crisis), then information you’ve provided to people who have contacted you can be used as part of a wider educational marketing program with paid ads to extend the message reach.
And then when it comes to actually, ‘OK, so now I’m engaged in these groups, now what?’ What I always recommend doing is taking the conversation offline. So reaching out to the people who you responded to in the group via InMail, or taking it to email, or phone even, and really making that be the place where you do some of the investigating to figure out if they’re a good client fit for you.

As you can see by the example above, organic marketing tactics are natural, authentic, and value-based. The benefits that businesses reap from these tactics are cultivated over longer periods of time, ultimately helping you build a brand that customers want to visit regularly. And although you’re doing less “pushing” with organic marketing, when done right you can still generate a steady stream of loyal traffic. Remember, this is about building high-value brand equity and industry authority with your customers. You’re not just attempting to drive sales here; you’re working hard to engage and educate your target audiences.  
Using organic search data through Data Cube you can make your PPC campaign even stronger. You can research keywords that have the highest traffic and use the BrightEdge Recommendations engine to learn the types of sites that people are most likely targeting with specific queries. You can then create content for your PPC campaigns armed with this insight, positioning yourself well for paid search success.
The HTML tag is meant to be a concise explanation of a web page’s content. Google displays your meta description beneath the page title in their organic results. While meta descriptions aren’t as important as page titles in your Google ranking, they do play a big role in getting clicks from users. People read descriptions as a preview of your page and use it to determine if your content is worth visiting. You should keep your meta descriptions to under 150 characters since Google won’t display text beyond that. You should also include target keywords in your text, since any words matching a user’s search query will be displayed in bold.
In March 2006, KinderStart filed a lawsuit against Google over search engine rankings. KinderStart's website was removed from Google's index prior to the lawsuit and the amount of traffic to the site dropped by 70%. On March 16, 2007 the United States District Court for the Northern District of California (San Jose Division) dismissed KinderStart's complaint without leave to amend, and partially granted Google's motion for Rule 11 sanctions against KinderStart's attorney, requiring him to pay part of Google's legal expenses.[69][70]
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.
Quick question. Do you ever click on the paid results when you conduct a search? It turns out, most users don’t. People typically bypass paid results and click on the top organic results. I get it. They’re looking for the most relevant and trustworthy answers to their problems. A top result that appears to be bought doesn’t appeal to them as much as an organic result. That’s where the credibility factor comes into play. It’s why 75% of clicks are organic.
Think about this. Where do you first turn to when you have a problem or when you’re curious about a topic? Google, right? It’s a no-brainer. Search engines are the ideal matchmakers between you and potential customers. In fact, 93% of all online interactions begin with a search engine. To leave this prospects in the dust is to leave revenue on the table. But here’s where search engines and organic traffic give you a real marketing edge.
Paid social media is anything that is influenced by advertising dollars spent. Any post in your news feed that has the “Sponsored” tag is paid social media. If you then “like” that post, that is considered a paid reaction. Paid social media includes boosted posts, ads optimized for clicks, lead generation forms, video ads, among other objectives, and can be targeted by a variety of demographic and behavioral factors.
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]
Another tip you can use is just reach out to the prior agency and say something like the following: “We realise you were using link networks for our website which has resulted in a Google penalty and loss in business. Can you please remove my website from any link network you have built?”. If the prior agency is decent, they will remove the links from the network.
In the zero-results sets, Google was still willing to show AdWords, which means if we have customer targets, we can use remarketed lists for search advertising (RLSA), or we can run paid ads and still optimize for those. We could also try and claim some of the data that might show up in zero-result SERPs. We don't yet know what that will be after Google rolls it back out, but we'll find out in the future.

This topic seems actually quite controversial. Google answered the question by what could be taken as a denial. But their answer was kind of open to interpretations. And on the other hand, there are studies (one of them from Moz) that showed linking out has an impact. So, how can you be so assertive? Is it something that comes out from your own experiments?
Some ideas to keep your Facebook fans engaged include posting quality content, creating exciting competitions and sharing surveys that ask for their opinions. For example, you could create a survey and ask your fans what content they would like to read or what new products they would like to see in your new fashion line. Take your community’s advice on board and let them know when you’ve created their chosen item or have written that post they wanted. It’s also important to add images and/or video content to your posts to enhance the visual impact and help them stand out in your fans’ crowded newsfeed.
As of 2009, there are only a few large markets where Google is not the leading search engine. In most cases, when Google is not leading in a given market, it is lagging behind a local player. The most notable example markets are China, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the Czech Republic where respectively Baidu, Yahoo! Japan, Naver, Yandex and Seznam are market leaders.
Click through rate: Except for high purchase intent searches, users will click on paid search listings at a lower rate than organic search listings. Organic listings have more credibility with search engine users. In one UK study, published by Econsultancy, only 6% of clicks were the result of paid listings. In another study, it was 10%. The important thing to remember is that click through rate varies by purchase intent. Organic rankings will get more click through rates for “top of funnel” keyword search queries.

Web search is one of the most powerful tools we have today. Just like you, people from all walks of life use Google to find solutions, learn new things and understand the world around. One of those new things may be determining whether SEO vs SEM is best for your business. Whether you’re an online business or a local business, chances are that people are actively looking for you.

Amber Kemmis is the VP of Client Services at SmartBug Media. Having a psychology background in the marketing world has its perks, especially with inbound marketing. My past studies in human behavior and psychology have led me to strongly believe that traditional ad marketing only turns prospects away, and advertising spend never puts the right message in front of the right person at the right time. Thus, resulting in wasted marketing efforts and investment. I'm determined to help each and every one of our clients attract and retain new customers in a delightful and helpful way that leads to sustainable revenue growth. Read more articles by Amber Kemmis.
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