SEO is not an appropriate strategy for every website, and other Internet marketing strategies can be more effective like paid advertising through pay per click (PPC) campaigns, depending on the site operator's goals. Search engine marketing (SEM), is practice of designing, running, and optimizing search engine ad campaigns.[55] Its difference from SEO is most simply depicted as the difference between paid and unpaid priority ranking in search results. Its purpose regards prominence more so than relevance; website developers should regard SEM with the utmost importance with consideration to PageRank visibility as most navigate to the primary listings of their search.[56] A successful Internet marketing campaign may also depend upon building high quality web pages to engage and persuade, setting up analytics programs to enable site owners to measure results, and improving a site's conversion rate.[57] In November 2015, Google released a full 160 page version of its Search Quality Rating Guidelines to the public,[58] which now shows a shift in their focus towards "usefulness" and mobile search. In recent years the mobile market has exploded, overtaking the use of desktops as shown in by StatCounter in October 2016 where they analysed 2.5 million websites and 51.3% of the pages were loaded by a mobile device [59]. Google has been one of the companies that have utilised the popularity of mobile usage by encouraging websites to use their Google Search Console, the Mobile-Friendly Test, which allows companies to measure up their website to the search engine results and how user-friendly it is.
Google is moving into more and more aggressively commercial spaces, like jobs, flights, products, all of these kinds of searches where previously there was opportunity and now there's a lot less. If you're Expedia or you're Travelocity or you're Hotels.com or you're Cheapflights and you see what's going on with flight and hotel searches in particular, Google is essentially saying, "No, no, no. Don't worry about clicking anything else. We've got the answers for you right here."
The piece on generating demand for branded queries rather than just product-based ones is particularly interesting here. It sounds as though it'll be more important than ever to have a strong brand in order to succeed (rather than just having a well-optimized site -- and ideally, having the strategic, technical, and creative sides all working together cohesively). Perhaps it's possible that brand exposure through things like answer boxes can still deliver some value too, even if it's difficult to measure, and CTRs are diminished?
A few links down and I've noticed that Brian has a link from WordPress.org. Not bad! Turns out that his content has been referenced within one of WordPress's codex posts. If I were to reach out and offer some additional insight, citing one of my articles, there's a chance I could bag a similar link, especially considering they have a 'Useful Resources' section.
If the first era of social was engagement, the new era is acquisition and conversion. Social commerce is growing much faster than retail ecommerce, although it’s early days. The top 500 retailers earned $3.3bn from social commerce in 2014, up 26%. Many retailers I work with are seeing social driving bigger % increases in retail traffic than any other channel.
Facebook ads contain links back to your business’s page. Even if the goal of your ads is to get people to click on a link that takes them off of Facebook, there’s a chance they’ll go directly to your Facebook page to learn more about you. If your page is empty or outdated, that’s where their curiosity ends. If you’re spending the time and money to advertise on Facebook, make sure you follow through with an up-to-date Facebook page.
On April 24, 2012 many started to see that Google has started to penalize companies that are buying links for the purpose of passing off the rank. The Google Update was called Penguin. Since then, there have been several different Penguin/Panda updates rolled out by Google. SEM has, however, nothing to do with link buying and focuses on organic SEO and PPC management. As of October 20, 2014 Google has released three official revisions of their Penguin Update.

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!

Organic search is extremely important for online retailers, as many studies suggest it drives around 50% of website traffic. When it comes to search engine optimization for eCommerce, marketers get obsessive about testing all methods available to them to try and achieve higher rankings. The logic is very simple: higher positions on SERPs automatically result in higher impressions and a significantly better click-through rate. More people visiting your store should ultimately translate into better conversions and higher revenues.  
Think about this. Where do you first turn to when you have a problem or when you’re curious about a topic? Google, right? It’s a no-brainer. Search engines are the ideal matchmakers between you and potential customers. In fact, 93% of all online interactions begin with a search engine. To leave this prospects in the dust is to leave revenue on the table. But here’s where search engines and organic traffic give you a real marketing edge.

Although it may have changed slightly since BrightEdge published its report last year, the data still seem to hold true. Organic is simply better for delivering relevant traffic. The only channel that performs better in some capacities is paid search ads, but that is only for conversions, not overall traffic delivery (Paid Search only accounted for 10 percent of overall total traffic).
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