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]

SEO techniques can be classified into two broad categories: techniques that search engine companies recommend as part of good design ("white hat"), and those techniques of which search engines do not approve ("black hat"). The search engines attempt to minimize the effect of the latter, among them spamdexing. Industry commentators have classified these methods, and the practitioners who employ them, as either white hat SEO, or black hat SEO.[49] White hats tend to produce results that last a long time, whereas black hats anticipate that their sites may eventually be banned either temporarily or permanently once the search engines discover what they are doing.[50]

Essentially, what distinguishes direct from organic traffic today is tracking. According to Business2Community, direct traffic is composed of website visits which have “no referring source or tracking information.” A referring source can be a search engine, or it can be a link from another website. Direct traffic can include visits that result from typing the URL directly into a browser, as the simple definition suggests.

Thanks for the comment Slava good too see your team is on top of things and happy you liked the post. The website in the case listed was a client who has taken on an agency who was doing lower quality SEO work which was affecting the site such as the huge link network and a strategy which only revolved around mainly head terms. We saw no long tail integration from the old agency's strategy, so we were able to yield great results to begin with. The clients site has 100's of high quality articles which we were able to re optimize and update as noted. Further to this they had a large index of high quality pages to work from. Sure enough the points listed above were key elements to a far wider strategy which could be 100's of points. I just wanted to include some of the biggest wins and easy to implement points.  

The piece on generating demand for branded queries rather than just product-based ones is particularly interesting here. It sounds as though it'll be more important than ever to have a strong brand in order to succeed (rather than just having a well-optimized site -- and ideally, having the strategic, technical, and creative sides all working together cohesively). Perhaps it's possible that brand exposure through things like answer boxes can still deliver some value too, even if it's difficult to measure, and CTRs are diminished?
If it’s someone that’s heading up products, they should probably talk a lot about product development, or product strategy, versus marketing. I think speaking to the core skill set of the executive or individual that you want to be a thought leader, and then similarly building out a content strategy and plan around the frequency and the topics that they plan to cover.
Remember when you used to rely solely on search engines for traffic? Remember when you worked on SEO and lived and died by your placement in Google? Were you #1? Assured success. Well, okay, maybe not assured. Success only came if the keywords were relevant to your site users, but it was the only real roadmap to generating site traffic and revenue.