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.
Incidentally, according to a June 2013 study by Chitika, 9 out of 10 searchers don't go beyond Google's first page of organic search results, a claim often cited by the search engine optimization (SEO) industry to justify optimizing websites for organic search. Organic SEO describes the use of certain strategies or tools to elevate a website's content in the "free" search results.

Usually, paid links will have an indicator next to them (in the example above, the words “Sponsored” and “Ad” fill this role) while organic links are left bare. You’ll likely remember seeing paid posts on other websites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You may have even seen sponsored posts on industry websites, where brands will pay a publication to write about their product or something related to their business.
Check out the average CPC for some top industries. These are the costs of one click. Mind you, that’s a click that is not guaranteed to convert a customer. With paid campaigns, you have to keep optimizing and testing the ad creative to lower your CPC and increase your CTR. You can imagine that it takes a massive budget to even set a paid campaign in motion. And it requires just as much to keep maintaining it.
Awareness and Branding. Visibility is one thing and being top of the line is another. The more that people see you, the higher your chances of being remembered and that keeps awareness among potential customers. Same goes with branding. Once you start linking your business with certain terms and keywords which are deemed positive for you, its effect will most likely be beneficial for your business and can, later on, lead to a sale.
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The last thing you need to do is evaluate the results and simply do it all over again. You will need to be constantly reassessing your organic marketing plan. The situation, audience, and goals will be constantly changing. Your marketing plan will need to change to adapt to this flux. You should reevaluate your organic marketing strategy at least every quarter.
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. 
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The great advantage of search engines is that users are directed to certain websites for a product or service, regardless of the brand that offers it. This is a great opportunity for small businesses that do not have sufficient resources to promote brand awareness. However, if your positioning works well in search engines, they can compete on equal footing with larger companies, and not only attract more qualified traffic, but also promote brand awareness.
As pointed out, they are certainly not the same, but it might not be a bad idea to track and report on the direct traffic. If there has been outreach done and the company is mentioned in print with a URL, direct traffic (along with some search traffic on the URL or business name itself) is likely to go up. If your email newsletters are not tagged, they're likely to show up under direct traffic. Depending on your role, some of what you do under the greater SEO/inbound marketing role can show up under the direct traffic.
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.
As a SEO analyst the fact that recent changes Google has made has made it hard for websites to rank scares me a bit but on a second thought I see a lot of opportunity here for growth. Because as SEO gets more challenging true meaningful strategies are now needed to optimize a site rather than just link building and basic on page. SEOrs really need to understand the nature of a client’s business, work on their buyer’s persona & understand their clients Goals. I am a big fan of Point #2 & #3 you highlighted under potential solutions. Local businesses (LB) really need to setup up and take full advantage of Google My Business (unfortunately I don’t see many LBs doing that). With point #1 i.e. demand generation, I am bit confused about how that strategy will unfold for small businesses. This would mean a lot more investment from their end on building their brand equity and brand awareness, but some businesses don’t really have that kind of funding. I mean yes, they can implement aggressive social media strategies and take advantage of GMB but that will still be very challenging I feel. Maybe a bit more information on how we can generate demand for small businesses be helpful!
Keyword difficulty is a number that lets you know how difficult it will be to rank for a certain keyword. The higher the number, the more difficult it will be to rank on that keyword. There are a few sites online that will tell you keyword difficulty of a word or phrase. Record these numbers in your Excel document or Google Sheet that you made earlier.
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.
The Google, Yahoo!, and Bing search engines insert advertising on their search results pages. The ads are designed to look similar to the search results, though different enough for readers to distinguish between ads and actual results. This is done with various differences in background, text, link colors, and/or placement on the page. However, the appearance of ads on all major search engines is so similar to genuine search results that a majority of search engine users cannot effectively distinguish between the two.[1]
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