It works in a similar way as a canonical tag does to show when a duplicate version of a page exists. But in this case, it helps Google index local content easier within local search engines. It also helps to pass trust across sites and improve the way Google crawls these pages. To know more about how errors you should not make when it comes to hreflang tags, you can check our previous article.
For a long time, digital marketers summed up the properties of direct and organic traffic pretty similarly and simply. To most, organic traffic consists of visits from search engines, while direct traffic is made up of visits from people entering your company URL into their browser. This explanation, however, is too simplified and leaves most digital marketers short-handed when it comes to completely understanding and gaining insights from web traffic, especially organic and direct sources.
Apart from the above mentioned factors, analyzing your competitors’ social strategy, the industry your business falls into, and individual social platforms will also help you in deciding the right social strategy. For instance, last year Facebook reduced the exposure of organic content, so for exponential results on Facebook a brand must go for paid ads.
Search engine marketing encompasses a range of activities all centred around making your website more visible when someone uses a search engine. If someone is looking for your business on the internet, it is vital your website appears prominently in the search engines’ results pages, or it will never deliver the value to your business that today’s economy demands.

One of the reasons for a traffic drop can also be due to your site losing links. You may be seeing a direct loss of that referral traffic, but there could also be indirect effects. When your site loses inbound links, it tells Google that your site isn't as authoritative anymore, which leads to lower search rankings that in turn lead to traffic drops (because fewer people are finding your site if it's not ranked as highly and more).

Optimize for opt-ins. Make sure you lead to something more than your content. What this means is that when people read your content, they must know where to go next. This may come in the form of a call to action or your offering of additional content, appearing perhaps as a PDF. Growing organic traffic is important, but it doesn’t matter if you are not converting those viewer into leads. Your business doesn’t pay its bills using raw traffic.


In the zero-results sets, Google was still willing to show AdWords, which means if we have customer targets, we can use remarketed lists for search advertising (RLSA), or we can run paid ads and still optimize for those. We could also try and claim some of the data that might show up in zero-result SERPs. We don't yet know what that will be after Google rolls it back out, but we'll find out in the future.
To avoid undesirable content in the search indexes, webmasters can instruct spiders not to crawl certain files or directories through the standard robots.txt file in the root directory of the domain. Additionally, a page can be explicitly excluded from a search engine's database by using a meta tag specific to robots. When a search engine visits a site, the robots.txt located in the root directory is the first file crawled. The robots.txt file is then parsed and will instruct the robot as to which pages are not to be crawled. As a search engine crawler may keep a cached copy of this file, it may on occasion crawl pages a webmaster does not wish crawled. Pages typically prevented from being crawled include login specific pages such as shopping carts and user-specific content such as search results from internal searches. In March 2007, Google warned webmasters that they should prevent indexing of internal search results because those pages are considered search spam.[46]
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.
Overall, these were ten of the key elements which assisted our client in reaching this growth in organic SEO traffic. I hope this guide/case study can assist webmaster's who have been targeted by recent updates over the last 12 months. If you want to learn more about these tactics or have any questions feel free to contact me via Twitter @ https://twitter.com/connections8 or leave a comment below!
Additionally, there are many situations where PPC (a component of SEM) makes more sense than SEO. For example, if you are first launching a site and you want immediate visibility, it is a good idea to create a PPC campaign because it takes less time than SEO, but it would be unwise to strictly work with PPC and not even touch search engine optimization.

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?
As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work, the computer programmed algorithms which dictate search engine behavior, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines, and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience. Optimizing a website may involve editing its content, adding content, doing HTML, and associated coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines. Promoting a site to increase the number of backlinks, or inbound links, is another SEO tactic. By May 2015, mobile search had surpassed desktop search.[3] In 2015, it was reported that Google is developing and promoting mobile search as a key feature within future products. In response, many brands are beginning to take a different approach to their Internet marketing strategies.[4]

In February 2011, Google announced the Panda update, which penalizes websites containing content duplicated from other websites and sources. Historically websites have copied content from one another and benefited in search engine rankings by engaging in this practice. However Google implemented a new system which punishes sites whose content is not unique.[35] The 2012 Google Penguin attempted to penalize websites that used manipulative techniques to improve their rankings on the search engine.[36] Although Google Penguin has been presented as an algorithm aimed at fighting web spam, it really focuses on spammy links[37] by gauging the quality of the sites the links are coming from. The 2013 Google Hummingbird update featured an algorithm change designed to improve Google's natural language processing and semantic understanding of web pages. Hummingbird's language processing system falls under the newly recognised term of 'Conversational Search' where the system pays more attention to each word in the query in order to better match the pages to the meaning of the query rather than a few words [38]. With regards to the changes made to search engine optimization, for content publishers and writers, Hummingbird is intended to resolve issues by getting rid of irrelevant content and spam, allowing Google to produce high-quality content and rely on them to be 'trusted' authors.
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.
The home page of your site is usually a good place to start. It typically holds a wide array of information about your product or service and will lead the website visitor to where they want to go. However, if you have other informative pages on your site that you think would be more helpful, you may want to choose one of those pages in addition to, or instead of, the home page.

And then if that isn’t enough, what I’ve seen work well is provide some incentives. Have a social contest, a social engagement contest, where people can like content for an opportunity to win say $100 gift certificate, something small scale like that. I myself have been part of these sort of contests before for a number of organizations and see it really amplify the engagement, it gets it in front of your employees’ eyes and thinking about it. And then the beautiful part is after the contest is done, the habit’s built oftentimes. And you’ll notice those same people that were engaging initially for the contest continue to engage with your content and help amplify your message.
Hi Rand! Thanks for a really informative and thought provoking Whiteboard Friday. I agree with Namrata about the challenges to local and small businesses that all the rapid changes with little to know warning from Google as far as they're concerned. In many cases, they're just rapping their heads and marketing strategies around having someone create and optimize their website and content for how Google SERPs used to work, and even with basic GMB listings, they have been unaware or unsure of how to use them. Some have been taken advantage of because of lack of understanding and awareness of how Google listings and GMB work and that it's free.
Anyone who types in a search query has a specific intent. And they’re expecting the content that they find in the SERPs to satisfy that intent. If you can understand the search intent of your prospective customers, it will transform your marketing in several ways. You’ll be able to predict what keywords your potential customers are likely to use.  It’s easy to start targeting keywords with no structure or strategy. But that’s a mistake.
Black hat SEO refers to the practice of trying to trick the search engines into giving you higher rankings by using unethical tactics, such as buying links. The risk is just too great. Even if you enjoy a temporary boost in rankings due to black hat tactics, it’s likely to be short lived. Google is getting better and better at spotting dirty tricks and sooner or later the progress you made will be wiped out by an algorithm update, or worse, your site will get removed from the index altogether.
So for the last 19 years or 20 years that Google has been around, every month Google has had, at least seasonally adjusted, not just more searches, but they've sent more organic traffic than they did that month last year. So this has been on a steady incline. There's always been more opportunity in Google search until recently, and that is because of a bunch of moves, not that Google is losing market share, not that they're receiving fewer searches, but that they are doing things that makes SEO a lot harder.
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.
Unless you have an invite, you can’t comment or submit a new product to PH. Even then, if you were to submit yourself, the likelihood is that you’d miss out on a lot of traction compared to someone influential on PH submitting. You only get one chance to submit to Product Hunt so you’ll need to identify someone who would be interested in your startup that also has influence within the PH community. To do this, go to Twitter and search the following query in the search bar:
Black hat SEO attempts to improve rankings in ways that are disapproved of by the search engines, or involve deception. One black hat technique uses text that is hidden, either as text colored similar to the background, in an invisible div, or positioned off screen. Another method gives a different page depending on whether the page is being requested by a human visitor or a search engine, a technique known as cloaking. Another category sometimes used is grey hat SEO. This is in between black hat and white hat approaches, where the methods employed avoid the site being penalized, but do not act in producing the best content for users. Grey hat SEO is entirely focused on improving search engine rankings.
The term is intuitive; the definition of organic marketing refers to the act of getting your customers to come to you naturally over time, rather than ‘artificially’ via paid links or boosted posts. It includes any direct, instinctive, and , with the exception of paid marketing tools. Paid tools, such as artificial paid link-ads, are considered inorganic marketing. If you’ve been putting your blood, sweat and tears into revising and reinventing your user interface, maintaining Twitter and Facebook accounts, building your email lists, and improving your SEO, you’re doing it already. Now, let’s take a closer look at why it’s effective, and how you can do it better.
Paid search advertising focuses on investing in the right types of ads to achieve prominent positions on search engine results pages and drive traffic to the site. Well optimized search ads can sometimes achieve higher positions than organic search results, while others might be displayed on the right side of the browser page. The success of paid search campaign rests on targeting the right keywords and selecting optimal advertising channels.

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.
Paid search advertising focuses on investing in the right types of ads to achieve prominent positions on search engine results pages and drive traffic to the site. Well optimized search ads can sometimes achieve higher positions than organic search results, while others might be displayed on the right side of the browser page. The success of paid search campaign rests on targeting the right keywords and selecting optimal advertising channels.
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. 
Even though we think about it all the time, we usually take a “sit back and wait” approach to traffic. After all, you can’t force anyone to visit your website. But it’s not as simple as “if you build it, they will come.” And you need more traffic, and greater search engine visibility, if you want to get anywhere with your website and your business.
I think for agencies as far as how we appear in organic search ourselves, we are definitely going to need to leverage all 3 of the solutions you talk about and agencies who haven't branded their products/services are going to have to do that and are going to have to also employ branding strategies. In addition, we have to optimize for other search ares like you say in your point #2 and we must look at optimizing existing content for voice search and answers/featured snippets like you say in point #3.
Rand, by all these gated searches and search cards etc are google effectively taking our homework ( in this case in the form of webpages / content), scribbling out our name and claiming it for their own? And then stopping users getting to the actual page? and if they are planning on removing organic traffic would they not suffer with regards to their ad revenue? Or is all this tailored for "ok google" and providing a more friendly search result for voice commands etc? Love Whiteboard Friday BTW, James, UK
Social is no longer just about conversation and content; it’s now an established channel for customer acquisition, remarketing and engaging existing fans/customers to support retention programs. It may be relatively immature compared to search and email marketing but it’s a channel in which most ecommerce teams are ramping up investment (people and tools).
You can then use the Data Cube to uncover topics relevant to prospects later in the buyer’s journey, such as your brand versus a competitor or case studies illustrating the value you provide for customers. Since your organic search research will help you understand what people are interested in reading, your emails will be more targeted and helpful, boosting your success rates.
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.
With more and more content being created on Facebook every day, organic reach is steadily declining. That’s why you might want to consider using Facebook’s paid advertising options to promote and increase the reach of your posts. While organic posts only get shown to your own Facebook fans, paid ads allow you to target people who have not liked your page but have similar interests and/or demographics.
Organic search is the backbone of a strong digital marketing strategy. It not only drives people to your website, but the insights offered through search trends can help you properly plan and execute your broader marketing course. Brands that want to employ strong marketing tactics should not neglect the power of organic search and the Data Cube in guiding their success.

Social Media Marketing (SMM): Focuses on branding, reputation enhancement and enhanced customer service via social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Smaller SMM channels include Digg, Delicious, Wikipedia, StumbleUpon and MySpace. Social networks are visited by a collective total of over one-billion people. Thus, even the simplest marketing efforts, like paid advertising, reach potentially large audiences.
If you take full advantage of social media to promote your top quality content, you want to keep in mind that engagement matters for SEO. Engagement helps to not only improve your online reputation but also to make connections and generate leads for your business. Content that gets tons of engagement on social media platforms will rank for the topics they cover. According to Moz, “to determine success, an algorithm looks at whether users engaged. If more people engage that’s a clear sign that their algorithm is showing this right content; if not, their systems will audition other content instead to find something that generates that interest.”
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.

So for the last 19 years or 20 years that Google has been around, every month Google has had, at least seasonally adjusted, not just more searches, but they've sent more organic traffic than they did that month last year. So this has been on a steady incline. There's always been more opportunity in Google search until recently, and that is because of a bunch of moves, not that Google is losing market share, not that they're receiving fewer searches, but that they are doing things that makes SEO a lot harder.

In order to optimize your SEO results, it’s important to measure the impact of your efforts on web site traffic and lead/sales generation. Google Webmaster Tools can give you important insight into how your site is functioning and identify potential errors you should correct. An analytics tool such as Google’s Universal Analytics is helpful for measuring changes in search traffic as well as tracking visitors interactions with your web site that are a direct result of SEO. Marketing automation tools and call tracking tools can help you tie leads and sales back to SEO.
Even though we think about it all the time, we usually take a “sit back and wait” approach to traffic. After all, you can’t force anyone to visit your website. But it’s not as simple as “if you build it, they will come.” And you need more traffic, and greater search engine visibility, if you want to get anywhere with your website and your business.

Organic search should not be viewed as just one of many different marketing strategies. Instead, it should be the cornerstone of your efforts. Your materials should all be optimized to maximize their appearance on the SERPs. You should also be using the insights that can be gleaned from organic search to inform the rest of your marketing endeavors.
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