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.
Aggressive "answer" boxes. So you search for a question, and Google provides not just necessarily a featured snippet, which can earn you a click-through, but a box that truly answers the searcher's question, that comes directly from Google themselves, or a set of card-style results that provides a list of all the things that the person might be looking for.

Billions of people search the web every day. Search engine marketing (SEM for short) is how you can get your ads in front of these future customers where it counts: in premium spots on the first page of search results. You set your own budget and are charged only when your ad is clicked. This makes SEM an affordable way to reach more customers for businesses of all sizes — including yours.
So if you're in the local space and you're saying, "Gosh, Google has really taken away the ability for my website to get the clicks that it used to get from Google local searches," going into Google My Business and optimizing to provide information such that people who perform that query will be satisfied by Google's result, yes, they won't get to your website, but they will still come to your business, because you've optimized the content such that Google is showing, through Google My Business, such that those searchers want to engage with you. I think this sometimes gets lost in the SEO battle. We're trying so hard to earn the click to our site that we're forgetting that a lot of search experience ends right at the SERP itself, and we can optimize there too.

Even if you don’t have a website, you can still make sure customers can find you online by creating listings on sites like DexKnows and Yelp. Just be aware that your customer base will be relying more and more on the internet to learn about your company, and a website will better provide the information they seek, as well as helping you build their confidence in your business.
Unless you’re eBay or Amazon, PPC can prove to be an expensive affair. You may initially not feel the pinch of it, but overtime, the costs keep growing. If you’re not doing enough testing with your ads, you may end up losing a chunk of your ad budget without any great returns. Simply focusing on the wrong keywords or markets can make a huge dent in your wallet if you are lenient with your ad budget.

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.

Paid search advertising costs money, which at first may seem like a disadvantage, but these costs can easily be managed. With cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) campaigns, you spend as much or as little as you want. You can adjust your campaign budget at anytime, so if your business is going well, you can spend a little extra to drive traffic to your website and catch the attention of new customers.
Search engine marketing’s greatest strength is that it offers advertisers the opportunity to put their ads in front of motivated customers who are ready to buy at the precise moment they’re ready to make a purchase. No other advertising medium can do this, which is why search engine marketing is so effective and such an amazingly powerful way to grow your business.
Another way search engine marketing is managed is by contextual advertising. Here marketers place ads on other sites or portals that carry information relevant to their products so that the ads jump into the circle of vision of browsers who are seeking information from those sites. A successful SEM plan is the approach to capture the relationships amongst information searchers, businesses, and search engines. Search engines were not important to some industries in the past, but over the past years the use of search engines for accessing information has become vital to increase business opportunities.[31] The use of SEM strategic tools for businesses such as tourism can attract potential consumers to view their products, but it could also pose various challenges.[32] These challenges could be the competition that companies face amongst their industry and other sources of information that could draw the attention of online consumers.[31] To assist the combat of challenges, the main objective for businesses applying SEM is to improve and maintain their ranking as high as possible on SERPs so that they can gain visibility. Therefore, search engines are adjusting and developing algorithms and the shifting criteria by which web pages are ranked sequentially to combat against search engine misuse and spamming, and to supply the most relevant information to searchers.[31] This could enhance the relationship amongst information searchers, businesses, and search engines by understanding the strategies of marketing to attract business.
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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