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

I'm having a problem that I suspect many marketers share. Quite simply … SEO or just buy the traffic. I noticed that you switched to SEO because you like the passive income component. But when I consider ALL the work and ongoing moving parts to SEO .. visions of the hamster on a treadmill appear in place of couch potato cash. Have you noticed that there is always something new to do … now it's Google+ ect. and "more to do" is surly on it's way. It's reached the point where it's mind numbing.


The social media landscape is constantly evolving. New networks rise to prominence (e.g. Snapchat), new technology increases user participation and real-time content (e.g. Periscope) and existing networks enhance their platform and product (e.g. Facebook,Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram launching ‘buy’ buttons). Organic reach is also shrinking as the leading networks ramp up their paid channels to monetise platform investment.
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.
Marketing strategies have evolved over the course of time. Back then, organic search, when hit right on the spot, would give you the right amount of exposure that your business needs. Apart from that, it used to give you a better deal at a lower cost compared to when you do pay per click. However, with the digital age coming in and small businesses are starting to become popular, they are now mostly leaning towards the fast-paced wonders of paid search.

In order to quickly identify the correct content and websites that will meet their needs almost all users will use a search engine such as Google. Typing a query into a search engine will generate a set of results that are a combination of paid and organic search listings. The user can then choose the most relevant link from these results or search again if the results are not helpful.
The monthly volume of searches entered on keywords can be found with a few different methods. If you have a Google AdWords account, you can use Keyword Planner for this step. If you don’t, there are a few free sites out there that will give you similar numbers. Obviously, if a keyword has higher monthly searches you’ll want to keep it in mind. However, that also might mean that it has a higher keyword difficulty, and fiercer competition.
One important thing to note is a website’s domain authority (DA) and page authority (PA). This is a number from 1 to 100 that indicates the strength of a website’s domain or a specific page. DA and PA are two of several factors that go into how a website will be ranked on a SERP. The higher the DA and PA, the better the chances are of that webpage ranking on the front page of a SERP (everyone’s dream!). This number is determined by a few things, such as the age of the website and number of links leading to it (backlinks).
H1 and H2 title tags are names for the two most important types of titles in your website. H1 tags are your main titles – usually large or bolded on a website, and at the top – and H2 tags are secondary titles that clarify your main title, or might be the titles to different page sections. To utilize these sections effectively, you can use the format “Business | Keyword” as your H1 tag. For example, if my business name was “Emily’s Images” and my keyword was “Atlanta wedding photography,” my title would look like “Emily’s Images | Atlanta wedding photography”.

The Platforms and Content: Because of all this information, your content should be step-by-step instructions with visual guides and images on how to create a wide variety of decorations for children’s rooms. This means that your platform would need to be both visual and instructional. Based on all this I would recommend creating social profiles on Pinterest, Instagram, a Youtube channel, and a blog. You will then want to create a wide variety of kid’s room decoration ideas. These should be posted widely and often on your social platforms.
I’ve always been a believer that hard work gets the best results, and in practice it always ends up being true. On the web it’s no different. If you want more organic traffic, you have to work for it. That means giving your best effort every time, going after opportunities your competitors have missed, being consistent, guest blogging strategically, and staying on Google’s good side.
When you’re truly faced with the dilemma, “Organic vs. paid search traffic?” don’t get too worked up. There’s always a solution to your specific situation – trust us, we deal with it all of the time! Every business is different and has different goals, so the perfect search marketing mix does exist for your company. First, think about each of these bullet points, and at the end ask yourself, “Am I willing to commit?”
Retargeting: Each platform offers retargeting to help you reach people who’ve already visited your website. The benefit of retargeting is that a conversion is more likely when you know the prospect is interested. You might also upload an email list and use Facebook Custom Audiences to serve ads directly to subscribers. In the following example, we see two ads that show in the Facebook sidebar to reach former web visitors.
Small business owners sometimes think that search engine marketing (SEM), also known as pay-per-click advertising (PPC), is not lucrative option for them. They may think they can’t afford it, or that their online presence is not important if they are a local or service-based business. The truth is, as search engines have undeniably become a part of our lifestyles as consumers, there are many ways to leverage them for businesses of any size. This post will introduce you to the basics and benefits of search engine marketing (SEM).
Search engines reward you when sites link to yours – they assume that your site must be valuable and you’ll rank higher in search results. And the higher the “rank” of the sites that link to you, the more they count in your own ranking. You want links from popular industry authorities, recognized directories, and reputable companies and organizations.
Search engines: Google vs. Bing. Google was the first search engine that provided better search results and people told others about it so it spread virally and became a verb “Google it”, whereas Bing is trying to buy it’s way into the market, doing ads, deals with Facebook and Yahoo, etc. Most people weren’t asking for a 2nd, “me-too” search engine, the first one solved their search pain and continues to do so, so trust was built and people have remained loyal to it.
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.
The stats tell the truth: the top ad spot gets about 2% of clicks (CTR) on average, whereas the top organic spot gets about 20 times that, 40%. Why? Because people trust it more. They trust the Google brand to deliver the most relevant results to their search query. Anyone paying for an ad might be perceived as just trying to hijack that process for a quick buck. It generally takes 3 months to earn the top organic spot with Google (there are exceptions to this), whereas it takes around 3 minutes to place an ad to get the top spot. Society values those who have earned their way to the top in any field, rather than bought their way.
The second is to really avoid promoting yourself, or your services, or your business, in these groups when you first join them. Like with any social network, you really need to build trust. And the best way to do that is to simply engage with the content that’s already there. Start replying and making genuine comments about the content being posted by people that could be prospects for you.
Keyword difficulty is a number that lets you know how difficult it will be to rank for a certain keyword. The higher the number, the more difficult it will be to rank on that keyword. There are a few sites online that will tell you keyword difficulty of a word or phrase. Record these numbers in your Excel document or Google Sheet that you made earlier.
Now in your reconsideration request make sure you are honest and tell Google everything that the prior agency was up too. Be sure to include all Excel information of removed links and say you are going to make an ongoing effort to remove everything negative. It is common knowledge that Google may not accept your first reconsideration request, so it may take a few times.
Organic search (SEO): When you enter a keyword or phrase into a search engine like Google or Yahoo!, the organic results are displayed in the main body of the page.When your prospects search for information about your products and services, you want to rank highly in search engine results. By “optimizing” your site, you can improve your ranking for important search terms and phrases (“keywords”). You can also improve your rank by getting other important sites to link to yours.

When used correctly, PPC can be highly efficient. Since you only pay when people click and you can target people looking for specific terms, it can be an excellent means of bringing people to your site. Even more importantly, PPC ads have been shown in some studies to even boost visibility and clicks, particularly if your organic result starts to slip further down the page. This can help improve brand reach and maintain a strong reputation.
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.

The first way that social media can (indirectly) help your search engine ranking is through content promotion. We might write, film, or record tons of great quality, keyword-optimized content but still not get many eyes and ears consuming it. Social media allows you to take the quality content you have worked hard to produce and promote it on several channels.


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?
The position of a link on a search results page is important. Depending on the search term, organic search results often make up only a small portion of the page. Since ads are at the top of the results page, on a device with a relatively small display -- such as a notebook, tablet or smartphone -- the visible organic search results may consist of only one or two items.
Like I said at the beginning, building organic traffic is hard. Anything that promises a shortcut to an avalanche of traffic will more than likely lead to a penalty down the road. Embrace the daily grind of creating great content that helps users and provides a solution to what they’re looking for. In the end that will drive more organic traffic than any shortcut ever will.
Content that ranks well in organic search – and does so for a long time – is particularly hard to out-rank due to the strong, positive signals it sends to the search engines and the subsequent authority it has developed. Gearing content to meet natural search intent is perfect for businesses looking to create a lasting presence and develop authority in relevant topics and/or industries. Focus on evergreen queries, question-based content and topic optimisation (where you look to cover every single facet of a topic) and you will be on your way.

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.
This is the number of views that you can test each month on your website.It's up to you how you choose to use them, either by allocating all the views to one test or to multiple test, either on one page or on multiple pages. If you have selected the 10.000 tested views plan and you run an experiment on your category page which is viewed 7000 times per month, then at the end of the month 7000 is what you'll be counted as tested views quota.

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.

I'm thinking about "less to do" (linking-social media) sites with physical products … Amazon and other merchants. And adding a PPC campaign instead of using social media and constantly toiling away building links and writing articles. Is there an easy way to get sites like this to rank while profiting with some paid traffic? Your opinion on this dilemma .. SEO vs PAID traffic or both would be much appreciated.
Use Facebook Insights to gain a better understanding of your Facebook fans. You can then target specific messages to meet the specific needs of subsets of your audience. For example, if you’re selling clothes and have written an article on the latest fashion trends for women, you can target your post to appear in the news feeds of women who have expressed an interest in clothes. Targeting options include Gender, Relationship Status, Location and Interests, etc. To target your Facebook post, simply click the targeting icon at the end of your post before you click Publish.

Social media is adopting its own form of SEO in a way that promotes a positive user experience. The way this algorithm works is by putting your posts in a pool as small as one percent of your followers. If those people engage with the content, then it gets introduced into a larger pool. Slowly but surely, more and more people see it, but only if it’s engaging.


What you are in fact talking about, are Google's death stars like the Shopping box, Knowledge Graph etc. It's fully understandable why many SEOs can't stand them 'cause whole categories of websites (price comparison platforms, for instance) have already fallen victim of such death stars, and there will be certainly numerous other portals, which will lose almost all of their traffic in the near future. Despite your (quite good) suggestions on how to circumvent such an issue, the situation for such an endangered portal can be hopeless when it's its whole business model, which a new Google feature makes obsolete. See geizhals.at for a very famous example.

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.
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.
Direct traffic is defined as visits with no referring website. When a visitor follows a link from one website to another, the site of origin is considered the referrer. These sites can be search engines, social media, blogs, or other websites that have links to other websites. Direct traffic categorizes visits that do not come from a referring URL.
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