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]

The great advantage of search engines is that users are directed to certain websites for a product or service, regardless of the brand that offers it. This is a great opportunity for small businesses that do not have sufficient resources to promote brand awareness. However, if your positioning works well in search engines, they can compete on equal footing with larger companies, and not only attract more qualified traffic, but also promote brand awareness.
Since there is an obvious barrier of entry for anyone trying to beat you once you’re established, you won’t have to worry about having competitors “buying” their way to the top. Their only option is pay per click ads, but then again, it isn’t the same as getting a higher position on the SERPs. Again, this is assuming that you took the right steps and were patient enough to solidify your place in the top search results. 
Guest blogging and infographic distribution are great ways to attract high quality links. Do not focus on the total number of links. Spend your time focused on quality links, from websites that are highly relevant to your business. If any SEO company tells you that they can rank your website virtually overnight you need to turn around and run away…fast. Google will continue to refresh their Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird updates, so make sure that you are focusing on quality rather than quantity.
This community is full of opportunities if you're a fashion-based retailer. One of the major advantages is the fact that they add links to each of the products that they feature within their outfits - the links go directly to product pages. This is the holy grail for ecommerce SEO, and the traffic those links will bring through will convert at a very high rate.
Keywords may get eyes on your content, but they won’t hold a viewer’s interest. You need something that’s going to keep them engaged, and keyword stuffing won’t achieve that. This is where the quality of your content is essential. Well-written, well-researched content keeps people reading, as it provides the solution they need, even if that solution is just something funny to fill a spare five minutes. It’s possible to enhance the content in many ways, such as formatting to arrange material in easily digestible sections, using infographics that are visually appealing and easy to share across social media, or creating videos that express ideas instantly. And don’t forget links. Creating a network of related content keeps viewers engaged with a constant stream of relevant information, and increases the chance they make a purchase.
Understanding the working mechanism of social algorithms is not a piece of cake. The algorithm for each social platform works differently. For instance, on Facebook, a core factor that affects the rankings of a post is its relevancy score, whereas on YouTube the total watch time of the video per session decides whether a video enters a ‘Recommended Video’ section or not.
Make your content longer. Despite video marketing's rise seeming to point to consumers' desire for shorter content, that implication couldn’t be further from the truth. Google wants content that’s longer and more detailed. Studies have shown that this is what ranks higher in the search engines. Don’t artificially inflate your word count, though. You should hone in on topics that naturally require more words to write about.

Knowing which pages visitors go to directly gives you an opportunity to design those pages so they accurately and quickly address visitors' needs. For example, if you sell clothing and your new-arrivals page is a popular destination, you want to be sure the content is always fresh, and you want to provide easy access to the full department represented by each new item. Who wants to see the same items week after week on a page that is supposed to represent the cutting edge of your inventory? And if you're featuring a new raincoat or bathing suit, you want to let visitors also easily see your whole line of raincoats or bathing suits."

In short, press request alerts are requests for sources of information from journalists. Let's say you're a journalist putting together an article on wearable technology for The Guardian. Perhaps you need a quote from an industry expert or some products that you can feature within your article? Well, all you need to do is send out a request to a press service and you can wait for someone to get back to you.
11th point to me would be too look at your social media properties, work out how you can use them to assist your SEO strategy. I mean working on competitions via social channels to drive SEO benefit to your main site is great, working on re-doing your YouTube videos to assist the main site and also working on your content sharing strategy via these social sites back to the main site.
Organic search engine optimization (organic SEO) refers to the methods used to obtain a high placement (or ranking) on a search engine results page in unpaid, algorithm-driven results on a given search engine. Methods such as boosting keywords, backlinking and writing high-quality content can all improve a site’s page rank. Black hat SEO methods, such as the use of keyword stuffing and link farming, can also boost organic SEO.
As you build out your marketing strategy, it’s important to consider how you can best address all of your business goals through a combination of organic and paid marketing tactics. Some goals will lend themselves to one or the other. Other goals may require a combination of the two working hand-in-hand. Either way, both types of marketing will help you achieve your business goals in with impact and efficiency.
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?
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.

I would also advise to continue doing what works. If something you have rolled out generates great traffic and links bring out a new version of the content, for example the 2012 version worked effectively bring out the 2013 version of the content. Another effective strategy is to make the piece of content into an evergreen article which you add to over time so it is always up to date.
As you build out your marketing strategy, it’s important to consider how you can best address all of your business goals through a combination of organic and paid marketing tactics. Some goals will lend themselves to one or the other. Other goals may require a combination of the two working hand-in-hand. Either way, both types of marketing will help you achieve your business goals in with impact and efficiency.
Lynn, it is so true that just talking about a brand in a blog post gets you noticed. I did a blog post a few years ago on a toy and mentioned that is was on the Parenting Magazine top 10 list. I did not link to the magazine, I just mentioned it and they sent me a free one year subscription to their magazine, and a whole box of coloring books for my kids. It wasn't monetary, but at least the company acknowledge that I referenced them.
Thanks for the comment, I would not say it is impossible to create high quality backlinks from scratch without content, you just need to do a review on competitor backlinks and see if their are any easy targets. We have had some good luck in the education space acquiring links on the same pages as competitor from PR5+ edu sites. It all revolves around the outreach strategy in which you put in place.

Use images. Images are vital for breaking up the monotony of a string of paragraphs. You also need to use a featured image ito make your content stand out in a list. This is like erecting a virtual billboard. If you don't include one, people won’t realize that your content exists. Think about how these images will look in thumbnail form, as that’s what will appear on your social media feed.

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.
At the end of the day, webmasters just need to know their sites: chances are your analytics tool is more like a person than a software package, and will classify traffic in irrational ways. I’ve stumbled across website traffic originating from diverse and confusing sources being classed as direct — often requiring a considerable amount of thought and exploration to work out what is happening.
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.
Hi Lynn, WOW another well written and informative post. I only use PPC to make sure my copy converts, otherwise I use organic traffic only. I have printed off this post and will have by my computer, as another tool to read everyday to make sure I am keeping on track. You are 1 of 3 people I keep subscribed to, because you help, you keep me motivated, you tell it like it is. You give great content, which is a lesson for us all to remember, it is OK to drive traffic to your site, but if you do not have what the seeker wants, then they leave, giving you a horrendous bounce rate and no conversions.
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.
Not every single ad will appear on every single search. This is because the ad auction takes a variety of factors into account when determining the placement of ads on the SERP, and because not every keyword has sufficient commercial intent to justify displaying ads next to results. However, the two main factors that Google evaluates as part of the ad auction process are your maximum bid and the Quality Score of your ads.

With the advanced search feature, I always recommend that after you put in your demographic information, you check the option for second degree connection. And the reason for that is it’s really powerful to be able to ask whoever the mutual connection is to make an introduction, or to use them as a reference in your introduction. I know even for myself that I’m much more likely to respond to someone who knows someone that’s already within my network. And I’ve seen this and I’ve heard about this working really well for a lot of different sales folks, telling me how just even name dropping a single person got them that initial phone call.
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!

Paid search is a great option for anyone targeting transactional queries. The people behind these types of queries have already researched and decided what they want, and are often one click away from getting their credit cards out. In fact, these “high commercial intent” searches for product or brand-specific keyphrases receive more clicks via paid ads than organic results, by a margin of nearly 2:1 It is worth noting however that 94 per cent of web users prefer organic results to paid results so it is best not to put all of your eggs in one basket.

In today’s complex organizations, IT departments are already overburdened and experiencing expertise gaps, shrinking budgets and only so many hours to get IT done. Migrating to O365 is a top priority for many organizations, but it can also be costlier, more complicated and more time-consuming than expected — especially when internal IT resources are already stretched … Continue Reading...

Lynn, you have one of the best sites for affiliate marketing that I've ever seen. Just read your interview with Rosalind Gardner and found some interesting nuggets. Marketers should note the intuitive and spontaneous way you approached a niche and keywords. This is usually where "paralysis analysis" begins … some spend weeks with keyword and research tools until there is no "creative energy" left to build the site.
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.

Anyone with a website can greatly benefit from understanding organic search engine optimization. Also called organic SEO, organic search engine optimization is a process of optimizing your website copy and HTML in order to help your website rank higher on search engines like Google and Bing. This way potential customers can find you quickly and easily.
Organic search is a method businesses use when they want to rank high on a search engine’s results page without having to invest in an ad campaign. Usually, this method involves using optimization practices on web pages and blogs and linking strategies, and conducting industry keyword searches that search engines view as valuable. Search algorithms are not entirely known, but marketing experts carefully study results to gather insight into how Google and other search engines rank pages. Some of the organic search engine optimization practices also include using relevant keywords on a page title, regularly posting optimized-blog articles to your site, and engaging with customers on social media platforms. This process takes time. The more you post and optimize your pages, the higher your results, as search engines see your content as relevant and trustworthy.
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