Paid or sponsored ads usually charge you for a click, while SEO doesn’t require you to pay for impressions or clicks. But do keep in mind that quality SEO isn’t exactly free. Depending on the target market you are in, you will have to invest time and money into getting the desired results. And if you’re not an SEO expert, then you would have to work with a reputable SEO company do it for you.
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?
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.
What you are in fact talking about, are Google's death stars like the Shopping box, Knowledge Graph etc. It's fully understandable why many SEOs can't stand them 'cause whole categories of websites (price comparison platforms, for instance) have already fallen victim of such death stars, and there will be certainly numerous other portals, which will lose almost all of their traffic in the near future. Despite your (quite good) suggestions on how to circumvent such an issue, the situation for such an endangered portal can be hopeless when it's its whole business model, which a new Google feature makes obsolete. See geizhals.at for a very famous example.
Organic traffic, on the other hand, are those visits which are tracked by another entity — usually because they have arrived through search engines — but also from other sources. Hubspot’s definition emphasizes the term “non-paid visits,” because paid search ads are considered a category of their own. But this is where the lines between direct and organic start to get little blurry.
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.
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.
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?
BrightEdge is the only technology that allows marketers to get an accurate understanding of how organic search rankings are tied to business value. It allows customers to track actual placement among all types of search results. BrightEdge users can switch data and reports between blended and classic rank results to gain more visibility and insight into the effects of local, images, videos, and more. You can also see how your content is performing across device types, like mobile, and in different regions within the same country. The image below from BrightEdge StoryBuilder shows Classic Rank in blue and significantly different rank for Blended or Universal results, which include universal rank types such as quick answers, images, videos, and shopping.
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!
The thing about SEO in 2018 is that Google changes its algorithms more than once a day! Reports say that the company changes its algorithms up to 600 times a year. While the majority of those updates consist of smaller changes, among them is the occasional, major update like Hummingbird or Panda that can really wreak havoc with your traffic and search rankings.

I still believe that Facebook and Google are great platforms to promote your business, but only if you are willing to pay. If your goal is Organic growth, I recommend looking at newer platforms such as Quora, Reddit, Snapchat, Medium, Instagram, Tumblr and similar. These are all established platforms that still offer some opportunities for organic reach, because although popular, they are nowhere near the saturation levels of Facebook and Google. You can also look at startups that you feel will become very successful in the future, take a small gamble perhaps and try to establish a strong presence there.
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.
Audience insight.  The better you know your customers’ pain points, the more tailored your offers will be. The more you’re connected with how they feel, the more succinct and impactful your messaging will be. I can’t think of one aspect of marketing that isn’t strengthened by that depth of audience research.What does organic traffic have to do with it?  When you dissect your traffic, here’s what happens.
Keyword research and analysis involves three "steps": ensuring the site can be indexed in the search engines, finding the most relevant and popular keywords for the site and its products, and using those keywords on the site in a way that will generate and convert traffic. A follow-on effect of keyword analysis and research is the search perception impact.[13] Search perception impact describes the identified impact of a brand's search results on consumer perception, including title and meta tags, site indexing, and keyword focus. As online searching is often the first step for potential consumers/customers, the search perception impact shapes the brand impression for each individual.
One of the things that can slow-bleed the traffic from your site is the quality (or lack thereof) of the content you publish on your site. Previous Google updates like Panda have already been released specifically to deal with the issue of low-quality content on websites. Long story short: Panda intended to stop sites with bad content from appearing in the search results.

You job is to make your fanbase feel part of a community. It’s equally important that you respond to all queries and complaints in a timely and polite manner. This will show your customers that you genuinely care. Address any concerns that your fans have about your product and/or service and do everything you can to address any issues they might have. Use a social media monitoring platform like Hootsuite to keep track of all of your social media interactions.

Every one of those engagements can amplify a post tenfold depending on the size of their network. And really you’re educating them on, ‘Hey, when you engage with our content,  you’re not only just liking the content, but you’re opening that content up to all of your network, which can ultimately help with building the business’ bottom line, getting more awareness, which in turn drives more leads, and helps move people down the funnel, they build trust when they see your name more often.’
Search engine marketing, or SEM, is one of the most effective ways to grow your business in an increasingly competitive marketplace. With millions of businesses out there all vying for the same eyeballs, it’s never been more important to advertise online, and search engine marketing is the most effective way to promote your products and grow your business.

The value of this that it is natural. In this day and age, we have become incredibly immune to advertising. People see it everywhere. We have been trained to unconsciously identify and ignore advertising. However, organic marketing provides value-first content to people who want to consume it. When people are searching or browsing for information about your products and services you want to be there to provide exceptional content.

Look at the different search engines (sources) that drive traffic to your site to determine where you want to invest your resources. For example, if you're getting an overwhelming amount of visitors and revenue from a particular search engine, that's an obvious source of profitable traffic and an area in which you might want to make further investment; but you might also find another search engine that delivers only a few visitors, but ones who represent a very high Per Visit Value. In this latter case, you might want to increase your spend in that area to drive more of those high-value visitors to your site.
Search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns generate organic traffic. The goal of SEO is to improve website ranking for relevant keywords. You want your website to show up on the first page of organic search results – ‘organic’ refers to the middle section of results you see in search engines – for what you’re selling, and you’d probably be considered super human if you did that without organic SEO.
Here’s the thing. Your web visitors aren’t homogeneous. This means that everyone accesses your site by taking a different path. You may not even be able to track that first point of contact for every visitor. Maybe they first heard of you offline. But in most cases, you can track that first touch point. The benefit? You can meet your potential customers exactly where they are.
SEM is the wider discipline that incorporates SEO. SEM includes both paid search results (using tools like Google Adwords or Bing Ads, formerly known as Microsoft adCenter) and organic search results (SEO). SEM uses paid advertising with AdWords or Bing Ads, pay per click (particularly beneficial for local providers as it enables potential consumers to contact a company directly with one click), article submissions, advertising and making sure SEO has been done. A keyword analysis is performed for both SEO and SEM, but not necessarily at the same time. SEM and SEO both need to be monitored and updated frequently to reflect evolving best practices.
Utilizing keywords in your URLs will also help with your rankings. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to change the home page URL of your website without your domain authority being reset. However, each additional page you add is a place to insert a keyword, as long as it is relevant to the actual page content. We’ll go over blogging shortly, but URLs of blog posts are a great place to use your keywords.

In today’s complex organizations, IT departments are already overburdened and experiencing expertise gaps, shrinking budgets and only so many hours to get IT done. Migrating to O365 is a top priority for many organizations, but it can also be costlier, more complicated and more time-consuming than expected — especially when internal IT resources are already stretched … Continue Reading...
Getting seen by people who are interested in your niche or brand helps you boost your brand’s visibility. Which indirectly affects the amount of business you get. Even if a lot of people are not immediately clicking on your ads, they may search for your product in the future. Either way, the paid ads will help immensely in terms of getting in front of your target audience and filtering out anyone who is not a part of it.

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.
Paid search advertising focuses on investing in the right types of ads to achieve prominent positions on search engine results pages and drive traffic to the site. Well optimized search ads can sometimes achieve higher positions than organic search results, while others might be displayed on the right side of the browser page. The success of paid search campaign rests on targeting the right keywords and selecting optimal advertising channels.

Online Marketing Challenge (OMC) is a unique opportunity for students to get real-world experience creating and executing online marketing campaigns for real nonprofits using a $10,000 USD monthly budget of in-kind Google Ads advertising credit through the Google Ad Grants program. This global academic program brings two worlds together, partnering students and nonprofits, to support digital skill development and drive positive change around the world.
Good point,The thing with this client is they wanted to mitigate the risk of removing a large number of links so high quality link building was moved in early before keyword research. So it is on a case by case basis, but defiantly a good point for most new clients I work with who do not have pre-existing issues you want to do Keyword Research very early in the process. 
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.

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.

The home page of your site is usually a good place to start. It typically holds a wide array of information about your product or service and will lead the website visitor to where they want to go. However, if you have other informative pages on your site that you think would be more helpful, you may want to choose one of those pages in addition to, or instead of, the home page.
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.

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.
People use search engines to get more information about the products or services that they are interested in purchasing, as well as the businesses that they are interested in purchasing from. Consumers will turn to search engines before doing business with a large national company, and they will also utilize search engines when planning to make local purchases as well.
Within social media, there are a lot of various ways to optimize your targeting organically. While paying for social media marketing can be effective, adjusting the targeting on your posts can boost your organic reach. Within Facebook and Twitter, you can adjust for your posts to target the following criteria: gender, relationship, status, education level, age, location, language, interests, and post end date. With these targeting attributes available, you can better target your audience so the right people can see your content.
Optimize for opt-ins. Make sure you lead to something more than your content. What this means is that when people read your content, they must know where to go next. This may come in the form of a call to action or your offering of additional content, appearing perhaps as a PDF. Growing organic traffic is important, but it doesn’t matter if you are not converting those viewer into leads. Your business doesn’t pay its bills using raw traffic.
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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