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.

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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]
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.
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?
Early versions of search algorithms relied on webmaster-provided information such as the keyword meta tag or index files in engines like ALIWEB. Meta tags provide a guide to each page's content. Using metadata to index pages was found to be less than reliable, however, because the webmaster's choice of keywords in the meta tag could potentially be an inaccurate representation of the site's actual content. Inaccurate, incomplete, and inconsistent data in meta tags could and did cause pages to rank for irrelevant searches.[10][dubious – discuss] Web content providers also manipulated some attributes within the HTML source of a page in an attempt to rank well in search engines.[11] By 1997, search engine designers recognized that webmasters were making efforts to rank well in their search engine, and that some webmasters were even manipulating their rankings in search results by stuffing pages with excessive or irrelevant keywords. Early search engines, such as Altavista and Infoseek, adjusted their algorithms to prevent webmasters from manipulating rankings.[12]
Melissa: I completely agree. And the other thing about them adding and the way they’re added in the LinkedIn video option is that there’s an auto play. So as folks are scrolling through their feed, they’re more likely to stop with this video that just kind of starts playing, as well. I think that’s a big opportunity to really get some more eyes on your content.
Facebook ads contain links back to your business’s page. Even if the goal of your ads is to get people to click on a link that takes them off of Facebook, there’s a chance they’ll go directly to your Facebook page to learn more about you. If your page is empty or outdated, that’s where their curiosity ends. If you’re spending the time and money to advertise on Facebook, make sure you follow through with an up-to-date Facebook page.
That’s a massive problem. And it’s one that organic search traffic solves. If you want to correlate your marketing efforts with a solid ROI, pay particular attention to where your customers are coming from. If you know where they’re coming from, you can calculate what you invest in each marketing channel, and what return it yields for your business. Some people believe that PPC is better for calculating ROI because it’s more measurable. That’s misguided. You CAN determine what an organic visit is worth to your business in terms of a hard dollar value.
Companies that employ overly aggressive techniques can get their client websites banned from the search results. In 2005, the Wall Street Journal reported on a company, Traffic Power, which allegedly used high-risk techniques and failed to disclose those risks to its clients.[15] Wired magazine reported that the same company sued blogger and SEO Aaron Wall for writing about the ban.[16] Google's Matt Cutts later confirmed that Google did in fact ban Traffic Power and some of its clients.[17]
Website saturation and popularity, or how much presence a website has on search engines, can be analyzed through the number of pages of the site that are indexed by search engines (saturation) and how many backlinks the site has (popularity). It requires pages to contain keywords people are looking for and ensure that they rank high enough in search engine rankings. Most search engines include some form of link popularity in their ranking algorithms. The following are major tools measuring various aspects of saturation and link popularity: Link Popularity, Top 10 Google Analysis, and Marketleap's Link Popularity and Search Engine Saturation.
Optimise for your personas, not search engines. First and foremost, write your buyer personas so you know to whom you’re addressing your content. By creating quality educational content that resonates with you>r ideal buyers, you’ll naturally improve your SEO. This means tapping into the main issues of your personas and the keywords they use in search queries. Optimising for search engines alone is useless; all you’ll have is keyword-riddled nonsense.
The fee structure is both a filter against superfluous submissions and a revenue generator. Typically, the fee covers an annual subscription for one webpage, which will automatically be catalogued on a regular basis. However, some companies are experimenting with non-subscription based fee structures where purchased listings are displayed permanently. A per-click fee may also apply. Each search engine is different. Some sites allow only paid inclusion, although these have had little success. More frequently, many search engines, like Yahoo!,[18] mix paid inclusion (per-page and per-click fee) with results from web crawling. Others, like Google (and as of 2006, Ask.com[19][20]), do not let webmasters pay to be in their search engine listing (advertisements are shown separately and labeled as such).

It’s an investment. Whether you have a trusted Internet marketing company handle your SEO activities or you travel the journey solo, you are making a solid investment in your website. Every time you optimize a landing page or write a blog post, you’re introducing new and relevant content to your website. Search engines love recent, relevant content.
Having large groups of content that all revolve around the same topic will build more relevance around keywords that you're trying to rank for within these topics, and it makes it much easier for Google to associate your content with specific topics. Not only that, but it makes it much easier to interlink between your content, pushing more internal links through your website.

Website ranking doesn't just come from what's on your website. Google, the number one search engine used today, uses a variety of other factors to rank websites. Things like your social media activity, appearances on other sites through interviews or guest blogging, and being listed as a resource on another site all increase your standing in Google's eyes.
While SEO seems to be the perfect plan for building your brand, one of the setbacks of this strategy is that it works in a slow-paced manner, and you might just be overwhelmed. Most keywords are usually already dominated by bigger brands. So if you are just starting up and are targeting to compete with other big brands, SEO services for small businesses like you might not be the perfect fit.
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!
Increase your real estate. When you show up in the first page of the organic AND paid search results, you’re doing something right. That’s not just something the marketing nerds like us will notice either – people realize (consciously or not) that it takes a successful, legitimate, intelligent company to show up twice in one search. A company that doesn’t know what they’re doing couldn’t do that… right?
For our client: We were lucky enough to remove most from the prior agency outreach, we also went directly to many webmasters in which we wanted to remove links. We did not use the Disavow tool as it was not around when we completed this link cleanup, but we all know it has been said that if you are going to use the Disavow Tool to use it with caution.
Student teams that demonstrate strong Google Ads knowledge, develop a thorough online marketing strategy, execute optimized Google Ads campaigns and provide a post-campaign analysis with future recommendations for their nonprofit partner will receive a personalized certificate from Google recognizing their academic achievement and social impact. Top performing teams also have the opportunity to submit their story to be featured in Google’s Social Impact Spotlight Series, as well as Hangout on Air with Googlers near and far.

Fix the meta description. Phil Tadros, leader of coworking space Space Doejo, emphasized the importance of the meta description. “I went out of my way to spend time tweaking and fine-tuning the meta description of my site," Tadros said, "because this is one of the first things people see. It’s vital that you make a promise you can keep.” Your meta description is your first chance to encourage people to click on to your website. There are plenty of plugins allowing you to edit the meta description if you don’t have a custom-made platform. A meta description may not impact SEO directly the way it used to, but it enhances the user experience.
Organic content marketing is a potential boon for your business, as it involves providing the material that online users are looking for. But it’s a slow process that involves a long-term commitment to producing high-quality material while constantly interacting with customers through various online platforms. It isn’t enough to post a few articles a month. If you want to benefit from potentially over three times as much traffic, you need to publish at least 16 articles a month. If you handle your campaign in the right manner, there’s a chance to see sustainable growth in your brand and a deeper level of engagement with your customers. But this resource-intensive approach may require that you outsource work to stay relevant and get the results you need.
In 2007, U.S. advertisers spent US $24.6 billion on search engine marketing.[3] In Q2 2015, Google (73.7%) and the Yahoo/Bing (26.3%) partnership accounted for almost 100% of U.S. search engine spend.[4] As of 2006, SEM was growing much faster than traditional advertising and even other channels of online marketing.[5] Managing search campaigns is either done directly with the SEM vendor or through an SEM tool provider. It may also be self-serve or through an advertising agency. As of October 2016, Google leads the global search engine market with a market share of 89.3%. Bing comes second with a market share of 4.36%, Yahoo comes third with a market share of 3.3%, and Chinese search engine Baidu is fourth globally with a share of about 0.68%.[6]
Paid search advertising has not been without controversy and the issue of how search engines present advertising on their search result pages has been the target of a series of studies and reports[23][24][25] by Consumer Reports WebWatch. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also issued a letter[26] in 2002 about the importance of disclosure of paid advertising on search engines, in response to a complaint from Commercial Alert, a consumer advocacy group with ties to Ralph Nader.
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.
There is absolutely no reason why your on-page optimization should not be perfect. It can mean the different between your website showing up on page three of the search results and your website being the top listing. We encounter so many local businesses that simply ignore their on-page optimization (or the prior SEO company didn’t optimize correctly).
To sum up all of this information, even organic traffic, like direct traffic, has some gray areas. For the most part, though, organic traffic is driven by SEO. The better you are ranking for competitive keywords, the more organic traffic will result. Websites that consistently create content optimized for search will see a steady increase in organic search traffic and improved positioning in the search results. As a marketer, it is important to look at your keywords and high-ranking pages to identify new SEO opportunities each month.  
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