Well as noted in the post it is not just above the links that was only one key part of a wider strategy. This website in question has deep levels of content. So it is not just about a blog section, they have numerous high quality content sections we have developed over time. It would not be advisable ever to attack competitors sites with low quality links.
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.
Audience insight.  The better you know your customers’ pain points, the more tailored your offers will be. The more you’re connected with how they feel, the more succinct and impactful your messaging will be. I can’t think of one aspect of marketing that isn’t strengthened by that depth of audience research.What does organic traffic have to do with it?  When you dissect your traffic, here’s what happens.
The most common form of organic SEM is search engine optimization (SEO). SEO refers to a variety of techniques designed to help your website rank higher in search engine results. Optimizing your website involves doing a little bit of research on what keywords or phrases your customers or potential customers are searching for when they are looking for your products or services online. It then involves writing web content using those keywords in a way that is both easy for search engines to pick up but still readable and pleasant for your website visitors.
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.

I agree with the point that a small or medium-sized business will have limits for budget and resources in generating brand search, but I wouldn't say that stops them from potentially producing huge growth there if they do something interesting/innovative etc. I can think of quite a few small to medium sized brands that have more name recognition than larger companies in their space. The challenge is that many of those brands are led by people who are very good at generating marketing and publicity - it's harder for small brands to be able to afford to pay for a top level consultant or agency.
On the other hand, structured data are also a real asset to increase your organic traffic and improve your CTR. They refers to values that help search engines categorize and index your content in a creative ways for the user. While there is no direct correlation between those data and a SEO improvement, structured data can really help you boost your visibility in SERPs.

Search engine marketing (SEM) is a form of Internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) primarily through paid advertising.[1] SEM may incorporate search engine optimization (SEO), which adjusts or rewrites website content and site architecture to achieve a higher ranking in search engine results pages to enhance pay per click (PPC) listings.[2]

With organic search, you don’t have to outspend your competitors to outrank them. Your competitors can’t recreate the content experience that you use to drive organic traffic.  This one is major. PPC is easy to replicate and reverse engineer. Many spy tools allow you to dissect paid campaigns to see what’s working and what’s not. You can get insight into what ad creatives generate the most clicks.
For our client: We monitored everything on a daily basis. If something came up, which needed to be fixed, we were quick to implement it with the development team at the business. We also rolled out numerous campaigns multiple times as they worked effectively the first time around in generating significant traffic so it was second nature to do the same thing twice.

Awareness and Branding. Visibility is one thing and being top of the line is another. The more that people see you, the higher your chances of being remembered and that keeps awareness among potential customers. Same goes with branding. Once you start linking your business with certain terms and keywords which are deemed positive for you, its effect will most likely be beneficial for your business and can, later on, lead to a sale.
Movies: a great movie experience gets people talking about it + public relations (TV show appearances or for example, People naming Gwyneth Paltrow the most beautiful woman in the world when Iron Man 3 came out). Advertising just helps to spark word of mouth. The point is to spark word of mouth, because people don’t often see movies alone. They take their family, friends or a date. Those people will base their decision either purely on their recommendation, or by going online and looking for a preview or reading about it, which is also organic marketing. The difference is this: paid advertising will only get the movie so far; organic marketing is what will multiply sales. Money only buys the ad spot, it doesn’t guarantee a return on that ad; the quality of the ad and the storytelling in it is what makes it effective or not.
In 2014, Cisco stated that video made 64% of all internet traffic. In 2015, Searchmetrics was releasing a white paper quoting that 55% of all keyword searches in the U.S. return at least one video blended into Google’s web search results and that 8 out 10 of those videos belonged to YouTube. And in 2016, Cisco was also sharing that online videos will account for more than 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2020.

RankBrain can have an impact on your keywords campaigns. When you are defining your keywords, you are looking for relevant terms that respond to customers queries. This is how a successful SEO strategy works. And logically, if you are picking keywords your audience is not searching for, you campaign will have no chance to succeed. This is where RankBrain can play a role.
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.
Organic is different. Matching keywords to user intent means you may be present in many searches. The user may find you consistently, and once they get to your site, they are more likely to stay. Organic users are still your best long-term customers. In my experience, they have lower bounce rates and more pages visited, and they are more likely to return.
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