Lynn, it is so true that just talking about a brand in a blog post gets you noticed. I did a blog post a few years ago on a toy and mentioned that is was on the Parenting Magazine top 10 list. I did not link to the magazine, I just mentioned it and they sent me a free one year subscription to their magazine, and a whole box of coloring books for my kids. It wasn't monetary, but at least the company acknowledge that I referenced them.
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.

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.
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.

A meta description is a short blurb about the particular page of your website. This is a great place to insert keywords easily. However, you also want to include helpful information for potential site visitors to draw them into clicking on your website. This blurb will appear in search engine results pages under your H1 title tag and URL of your webpage.
In 2014, BrightEdge published research that showed that 51% of channel traffic came from organic search and that it was far and away the largest channel. In the intervening years there were significant search algorithm changes that dramatically altered the layout and ranking of the search engine results pages and saw an increase in the space taken by Local, Videos, Images, Ads, and Quick Answers.

When the topic of SEO vs SEM arises, some experts may argue that SEO is the best way to go as it offers higher quality leads at a cheaper cost when compared to SEM. However, it isn’t so simple. Every business is different and has unique needs. For example, your small business may not have a big ad budget and it may also lack the resources needed for doing effective SEO.

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.
Go to local events or Meetup events and connect with bloggers in your industry. An example of an event I run to connect with bloggers and people in the online marketing word is: http://www.meetup.com/Online-Marketing-Sydney/. Make friends first and then try to gain guest posts later. I am not really a fan of websites which are flooded with guest posts one after another; it is the type of thing which Google is just waiting to target.
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.
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.

Together is better! For many businesses, the best approach is a mix of both organic and paid search results. The advantage of this approach is that organic rankings give a business credibility and evergreen search results. Paid search (PPC) provides immediate top-of-the-page listings and greater click through rates, i.e., sales, when consumers are ready to purchase.
Good question, for most directories I use they ask for mobile number to send a message of verification, for the ones which phone you for verification inform the company before hand to tell their customer service people to be ready. I know the bigger the company the more tricky these things get you just have to find out what works best to answer the calls even if they give you a direct number to use. 
While farms and processing facilities for organic products are required to get organic certification, it’s optional for retailers. For certification, there are numerous steps and processes to insure organic integrity from when products arrive at a store until you put them in your basket. That integrity is important to us – and many of our shoppers – so we became the first national certified organic grocer.
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.
New zero-result SERPs. We absolutely saw those for the first time. Google rolled them back after rolling them out. But, for example, if you search for the time in London or a Lagavulin 16, Google was showing no results at all, just a little box with the time and then potentially some AdWords ads. So zero organic results, nothing for an SEO to even optimize for in there.
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?

Google doesn't always include a whole paragraph of text in the Featured Snippet. If you add "Step 1," "Step 2," "Step 3," etc. to the start of each HTML heading within your content (for example, within your H2 tags), Google will sometimes just list out your headings within the Featured Snippet. I've started to see this happen more and more in keywords beginning with "how to".
Most businesses are aware that the search engines can drive massive traffic to their web properties. Not just any traffic, but traffic that actually converts into leads and sales. Even though there are other ways to gain online exposure, Google still leads the pack when it comes to helping you get the best bang for your marketing buck. This is mainly due to its huge user base and market share.
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]
At our agency, we work with sites of varying sizes, from very large to quite small, and recently, we have noticed a trend at the enterprise level. These sites aren’t relying as much on Google for traffic any more. Not only are they not relying on Google traffic, but also, the sites are getting less than 10 percent (or slightly more) of their organic traffic from the search giant.
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