You’re not going to like this answer. But wouldn’t it be so simple if we would tell you to do one or the other and get stellar results? The truth is, an effective marketing campaign should include a bit of both strategies. For the short-term, a paid search campaign can give your business a quick boost, helping you gain exposure to customers searching for the relevant keywords in your campaign; however, sometimes consumers don’t trust—or even look at—paid ads. Using organic search methods, which consumers tend to see as trustworthy, will help drive traffic and increase revenue over the long haul, and solidify your position as a leader and authority in your niche.
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!
Incidentally, according to a June 2013 study by Chitika, 9 out of 10 searchers don't go beyond Google's first page of organic search results, a claim often cited by the search engine optimization (SEO) industry to justify optimizing websites for organic search. Organic SEO describes the use of certain strategies or tools to elevate a website's content in the "free" search results.
While there are several HTML tagging techniques that improve a page’s Google SEO results, creating relevant page content is still the best way to rank high. A big part of content creation is your use of targeted keywords. You should include important keywords in your first 50 words, since early placement can be a signal of relevance. And while you should never repeat keywords too often at the expense of good writing, you should repeat keywords in your content two or three times for short pages and four to six times for longer pages. Also, you may wish to use some keyword variation in your content – such as splitting keywords up – as this could potentially improve your ranking.
It takes skill to drive and convert traffic. If you do it yourself, it takes a significant time investment. If you outsource it, it takes a considerable monetary investment. Either way, you need resources. And you’re doing all this in a highly competitive space. Driving organic traffic is no longer just about deploying keywords. SEO is a lot more nuanced and complex than just targeting keywords. You have to consider different keyword types, the search intent of the user and the stage of awareness of your prospects. It takes time to see results.
Look to successful brands to see how they keep customers engaged. Do you need to constantly update content, as Home Depot does with its seasonal DIY tips? Or do you need to position yourself as a lifestyle brand, following in Red Bull’s footsteps by running a series of videos on YouTube? Whatever method you adopt, it’s important to have some quantifiable way to measure how successful you are, so keep your ultimate goal in mind as you evaluate your return on investment.
Your keyword research will determine whether or not your search optimization effort will be a success or a failure. Many businesses make the mistake of basing their keywords on just the search volume. This often leads to attempting to rank for keywords that are very difficult and costly to move up, or even keywords that aren’t “buyer” keywords and just send useless traffic to the website.
Web search is one of the most powerful tools we have today. Just like you, people from all walks of life use Google to find solutions, learn new things and understand the world around. One of those new things may be determining whether SEO vs SEM is best for your business. Whether you’re an online business or a local business, chances are that people are actively looking for you.
In March 2006, KinderStart filed a lawsuit against Google over search engine rankings. KinderStart's website was removed from Google's index prior to the lawsuit and the amount of traffic to the site dropped by 70%. On March 16, 2007 the United States District Court for the Northern District of California (San Jose Division) dismissed KinderStart's complaint without leave to amend, and partially granted Google's motion for Rule 11 sanctions against KinderStart's attorney, requiring him to pay part of Google's legal expenses.[69][70]
Another ethical controversy associated with search marketing has been the issue of trademark infringement. The debate as to whether third parties should have the right to bid on their competitors' brand names has been underway for years. In 2009 Google changed their policy, which formerly prohibited these tactics, allowing 3rd parties to bid on branded terms as long as their landing page in fact provides information on the trademarked term.[27] Though the policy has been changed this continues to be a source of heated debate.[28]

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.

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.


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.
Paid advertising and sponsored social posts cost money but work fast, so they’re a good way to give an immediate boost to your traffic regardless of what stage your business is in. In fact, paid strategies are a good way for new companies to get their names out there while they work on their organic strategy. However, paid traffic drops as soon as the payments drop, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a healthy amount of organic content before ending a sponsored campaign.
And executives in particular, whether you’re getting help from an external coach like myself, or have an internal expert that can help them with their profile, this is really important because your executives are the key to really building thought leadership. I know even at Act-On, Bill Pierznik has been making some really amazing posts on LinkedIn around his thoughts on the business world, and it’s garnered a lot of engagement. So, the more you could have your executives be the voice for your company and really get their profiles up and running, the better.
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.
Companies with stronger SEO efforts on increasing performance emphasised the development of content and updating content on the website as a relatively easy task to perform. However, they start to get lost when it comes to the management of keywords and the construction of external links as the tactics become more difficult to perform. Blogging and the integration of social media were mentioned as simple enough tasks to perform in-house.
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.
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.
The Featured Snippet section appearing inside the first page of Google is an incredibly important section to have your content placed within. I did a study of over 5,000 keywords where HubSpot.com ranked on page 1 and there was a Featured Snippet being displayed. What I found was that when HubSpot.com was ranking in the Featured Snippet, the average click-through rate to the website increased by over 114%.
And the other way to do that is really through status updates, very short simple things to start engaging your audience, talk about the things you’re learning in the business world. And when it comes to what that strategy can look like, what I always recommend is you sit down with whoever you think are going to be your thought leaders and figure out what part of the business do they really want to position themselves as a thought leader about.

We are an experienced and talented team of passionate consultants who live and breathe search engine marketing. We have developed search strategies for leading brands to small and medium sized businesses across many industries in the UK and worldwide. We believe in building long-term relationships with our clients, based upon shared ideals and success. Our search engine marketing agency provides the following and more:
Encourage incoming links. Google prioritises sites that have a lot of incoming links, especially from other trustworthy sites. Encourage clients, friends, family members, partners, suppliers, industry mavens and friendly fellow bloggers to link to your site. The more incoming links you have the higher your site will rank. But beware SEO snake oil salesmen who try to trick Google with spammy links from low-reputation sites. Some links can actually damage your SEO.
Organic products have shifted from being a lifestyle choice for a small share of consumers to being consumed at least occasionally by a majority of Americans. National surveys conducted by the Hartman Group and Food Marketing Institute during the early 2000s found that two-thirds of surveyed shoppers bought organically grown foods. For a literature review of organic consumer studies, see the ERS report:
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.

Great topic Rand! I have found that being well-versed in PPC and Content Marketing have not only helped my expertise grow as an SEO, but are also great options to fall back on when offering solutions to clients, depending on the SEO opportunity available. It will be interesting to see if Organic Search Traffic will continue to drop or bounce back overall though. Solids tips and insight, and glad to see you back for a WBF!


We're also going to have to both educate small businesses about how to optimize their GMB listings as well as why it's important and smart agencies will have to expand their GMB local listings services to include pakages that include optimizations, and monitoring of clients' GMB listings. I think the more areas of online marketing an agency that serves the small business and local business markets can have service offerings in and branded, proprietary products that help those small and local businesses compete with the larger companies, the more successful they'll be.
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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