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!
By 2004, search engines had incorporated a wide range of undisclosed factors in their ranking algorithms to reduce the impact of link manipulation. In June 2007, The New York Times' Saul Hansell stated Google ranks sites using more than 200 different signals.[25] The leading search engines, Google, Bing, and Yahoo, do not disclose the algorithms they use to rank pages. Some SEO practitioners have studied different approaches to search engine optimization, and have shared their personal opinions.[26] Patents related to search engines can provide information to better understand search engines.[27] In 2005, Google began personalizing search results for each user. Depending on their history of previous searches, Google crafted results for logged in users.[28]
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?
Those who communicate value, attract others who seek that value in that topic. Those who are in the know, have an edge over those who don’t know, and that’s valuable. It helps people get more of what they want and like, and reduce their risk and negative experiences. In business, it’s profitable to have more of the right information than your competitors ahead of time (as long as it’s done and used legally to avoid fines and reprimands like with insider trading). Having valuable information first means you can make moves and investments before competitors, to buy cheaper and/or sell higher.
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.
● Collect conversion related data from your PPC campaign and use it to convert your organic search visitors better. Also, keywords that worked for you in PPC are best to optimize your website for, so using them for SEO purposes makes sense. Your PPC campaign will end, but the rankings you achieve for the same keyword will remain for quite some time.
Nathan: You’ve mentioned status updates. One of the things I’ve been doing with the podcast is creating a video introduction. It was last fall that LinkedIn started having native uploads of videos. And I’ve been noticing anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 views per post that I upload, where nobody was checking out my videos or status updates when I was doing it in the past. That might be something people think about, too, is adding the video element into their thought leadership post or their status updates. What are your thoughts on that?
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]
Target all the relevant keywords for your industry. If you don’t actively go after the top keywords in your industry, there’s no way you’ll successfully create these customer touch points. The easy way to find these niche keywords? Use a tool like UberSuggest. Plug your queries into the keyword tool to get some more concrete terms. UberSuggest will give you a list of alphabetized queries. You can then use another tool like Google’s Keyword Planner to determine the competitiveness of these keywords.
If we can do that effectively, it is in the best interest of the search engine to serve our content to our target audience for us, providing highly targeted visitors to our pages at no incremental cost. This is the secret to the organic channel, and why organic search listings are so valuable. Other channels often come with additional cost for each new visitor provided.
The ad auction process takes place every single time someone enters a search query into Google. To be entered into the ad auction, advertisers identify keywords they want to bid on, and state how much they are willing to spend (per click) to have their ads appear alongside results relating to those keywords. If Google determines that the keywords you have bid on are contained within a user’s search query, your ads are entered into the ad auction.
Publishing quality content on a regular basis can help you attract targeted organic search traffic. But creating great content that gets ranked higher in the search engines isn’t easy. If your business doesn’t have the necessary resources, developing strong content assets can prove to be a challenge. Which affects your ability to have a working content strategy.
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.
Social media is the easiest and most effective way to push out your SEO-based content. While the incoming links from your social media shares don’t have the same impact as authentic links from high-quality sites, they can influence your bounce rate and time-on-site engagement. If your content is good and people stick around to read it, those engagement metrics communicate value to search engines. Your goal should be to turn your best organic content into social media content so you can then encourage engagement and drive traffic back to your site.
Let’s first take a quick look at what organic marketing is and what it is not. Organic marketing is an array of marketing disciplines that create a cohesive and comprehensive approach to inbound marketing. It is using the online search and traffic habits of potential clients to reach them by creating high-quality and high-visibility content for them to consume.
If you were to ask someone what the difference is between direct and organic website traffic, they would probably be able to warrant a good guess, purely based on the terms’ wording. They might tell you that direct traffic comes from going straight into a website by entering its URL into a browser or clicking a bookmark, while organic traffic comes from finding the site somewhere else, like through a search engine.

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.
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.

Think about this. Where do you first turn to when you have a problem or when you’re curious about a topic? Google, right? It’s a no-brainer. Search engines are the ideal matchmakers between you and potential customers. In fact, 93% of all online interactions begin with a search engine. To leave this prospects in the dust is to leave revenue on the table. But here’s where search engines and organic traffic give you a real marketing edge.
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.
Regarding Link Detox, links it diagnoses as Toxic are generally fine as they're either not indexed by Google or have malware/viruses/etc., but I recommend a manual review of any diagnosed as Suspicious. I used it recently to get started cleaning up our backlinks and some legit sites and blogs were under Suspicious simply because they didn't have many links pointing to them.

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.
James, you give a great template for how a business needs to move forward in their chosen niche online.  Quite informative and the meeting of minds has been something a number of us have done online and in person to gain better insight into our small similar businesses.  Thank you for sharing your detailed approach to increasing organic traffic...content still is king.
Ad groups allow for each campaign to be further subcategorized for relevance. In our hardware store example, one ad group could be for different types of rakes or varying models of leaf blowers. For the power tools campaign, one ad group might focus on power drills, while another could focus on circular saws. This level of organization might take slightly longer to set up initially, but the rewards – namely higher CTRs at lower cost – make this effort worthwhile in the long run.
New zero-result SERPs. We absolutely saw those for the first time. Google rolled them back after rolling them out. But, for example, if you search for the time in London or a Lagavulin 16, Google was showing no results at all, just a little box with the time and then potentially some AdWords ads. So zero organic results, nothing for an SEO to even optimize for in there.
Here users can find what services are around, or where to buy a particular product. Meanwhile, local searches provide instant information and specific data on customers’ needs, such as a telephone numbers, the address of a company or its public opening hours. Also, do not forget your smartphone as a tool to find information anywhere. 77% of the users of these devices use them to find information preferably in their immediate environment.

“Organic” is something of a buzz word. In the food sector, it carries connotations of healthy living, natural growth and honest, responsibly sourced products. Those connotations are just as relevant when the term relates to marketing campaigns. Companies encourage and maintain healthy growth through the use of carefully targeted organic content marketing. Doing so builds trust in the customer base while extending the brand’s reach. You may already be using organic marketing as part of your business strategy (perhaps without even realizing it). But, if you aren’t, it’s time to consider how to plant the seeds of a new campaign that helps your business to grow and flourish.
The first is that you look at who are your current customers, who are your prospects, what groups are they in, and join those same groups if they’re relevant and not too title specific to a marketer or a different field that you’re not in. But really starting with the folks that you already are working with and using them to figure out which groups are most relevant. This is also especially important because I think it was about a year ago, LinkedIn now made all the groups private. So you can’t go in and look at what’s going on in the group. And it’s really hard to know which ones are the best ones to join just by doing simple searches on say the title of the group. So, start with the folks that you know.
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Hubspot found that their articles up to 2500 words drive the most traffic. Similarly, posts with more than 2500 words generated more social shares and links. Naturally, it takes some investment to create that quality of content. The key is to come up with evergreen ideas. This way, your investment will more than pay for itself because your content will be serving your business goals years down the line. Put people first. The thing about search engines and how they rank content? It’s unpredictable. But one thing will remain constant. The job of a search engine is to connect users with the most relevant and useful information. If your content serves that purpose, you don’t have to fear algorithm changes.
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.
At our agency, we work with sites of varying sizes, from very large to quite small, and recently, we have noticed a trend at the enterprise level. These sites aren’t relying as much on Google for traffic any more. Not only are they not relying on Google traffic, but also, the sites are getting less than 10 percent (or slightly more) of their organic traffic from the search giant.