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?
Organic Search: Organic search results are the listings of Web pages returned by the search engine’s algorithms that closely match the search string of keywords. Marketers use SEO and content assets to get high search engine rankings. The goal is to be on the first page and then move into the top three rankings for specific keywords. That’s because the advantages of organic search are dependent on visibility. The higher the ranking the more pronounced the advantages. They all but disappear if your listing is not on the first page.
And executives in particular, whether you’re getting help from an external coach like myself, or have an internal expert that can help them with their profile, this is really important because your executives are the key to really building thought leadership. I know even at Act-On, Bill Pierznik has been making some really amazing posts on LinkedIn around his thoughts on the business world, and it’s garnered a lot of engagement. So, the more you could have your executives be the voice for your company and really get their profiles up and running, the better.
In 2013, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held in Lens.com, Inc. v. 1-800 Contacts, Inc. that online contact lens seller Lens.com did not commit trademark infringement when it purchased search advertisements using competitor 1-800 Contacts' federally registered 1800 CONTACTS trademark as a keyword. In August 2016, the Federal Trade Commission filed an administrative complaint against 1-800 Contacts alleging, among other things, that its trademark enforcement practices in the search engine marketing space have unreasonably restrained competition in violation of the FTC Act. 1-800 Contacts has denied all wrongdoing and is scheduled to appear before an FTC administrative law judge in April 2017.[29]
That's why it's necessary to always stay abreast of developments in the SEO world, so that you can see these algorithm updates coming or you can determine what to do once they’ve been released. The WordStream blog is a great resource for SEO updates, but we also recommend Search Engine Land and Search Engine Roundtable for news on updates. Glenn Gabe of G-Squared Interactive is also a great resource for analyzing the causes and impact of algorithm updates.
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!

Not all businesses will have the need or even the budgetary resources to deploy paid marketing campaigns. However, every business needs to embrace organic marketing. It’s not an option. Here’s why. A marketing strategy built only on paid is shallow; it won’t help you to build an authentic connection with your customers. If all they see are ads – with no educational content, informational emails, or even engaging social media posts to complement those ads – you lose the mindshare of your customers in two ways:

You can also make sure that you’re not bleeding revenue due to friction somewhere along that path. How does that work? When you focus on organic search traffic, you’re compelled to take the battle to multiple marketing fronts. While SEO outperforms all other channels regarding ROI, it doesn’t always work in isolation. Email marketing, content marketing, social media, and other channels can all serve your SEO strategy. I’ll tell you something about marketers who are truly worth their stuff.
Anchor text is the visible words and characters that hyperlinks display when linking to another page. Using descriptive, relevant anchor text helps Google determine what the page being linked to is ?about. When you use internal links (links on web pages that point to other pages on the same web site), you should use anchor text that is a close variation of your target keywords for that page, instead of phrases like click here or download here . But at the same time, avoid overuse of exact match keywords. Using close variations will help you rank better for more keywords.
Guest blogging purely for inbound links is a flawed strategy because the value of those links are going down. However, guest blogging for traffic is still an incredibly viable strategy. While that inbound link you get at the end of a guest post doesn’t have as much SEO value as it used to, it still has the value of exposing your content to a new audience.

Use long tail keywords. Don’t just go with the most popular keywords in your market. Use keywords that are more specific to your product or service. In time, Google and other search engines will identify your website or blog as a destination for that particular subject, which will boost your content in search rankings and help your ideal customers find you. These tools will help.
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.
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