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.

In February 2011, Google announced the Panda update, which penalizes websites containing content duplicated from other websites and sources. Historically websites have copied content from one another and benefited in search engine rankings by engaging in this practice. However Google implemented a new system which punishes sites whose content is not unique.[35] The 2012 Google Penguin attempted to penalize websites that used manipulative techniques to improve their rankings on the search engine.[36] Although Google Penguin has been presented as an algorithm aimed at fighting web spam, it really focuses on spammy links[37] by gauging the quality of the sites the links are coming from. The 2013 Google Hummingbird update featured an algorithm change designed to improve Google's natural language processing and semantic understanding of web pages. Hummingbird's language processing system falls under the newly recognised term of 'Conversational Search' where the system pays more attention to each word in the query in order to better match the pages to the meaning of the query rather than a few words [38]. With regards to the changes made to search engine optimization, for content publishers and writers, Hummingbird is intended to resolve issues by getting rid of irrelevant content and spam, allowing Google to produce high-quality content and rely on them to be 'trusted' authors.
Unless you’re eBay or Amazon, PPC can prove to be an expensive affair. You may initially not feel the pinch of it, but overtime, the costs keep growing. If you’re not doing enough testing with your ads, you may end up losing a chunk of your ad budget without any great returns. Simply focusing on the wrong keywords or markets can make a huge dent in your wallet if you are lenient with your ad budget.
If you’ve seen ads appear at the top or right of search engines, then you already know what SEM is. When your ads display in these optimal, highly visible positions, your business can have an edge over your competition. Plus, most searchers only click on the first few results, which gives these premium ad spots a visual advantage to catch the attention of your future customers.
I think for agencies as far as how we appear in organic search ourselves, we are definitely going to need to leverage all 3 of the solutions you talk about and agencies who haven't branded their products/services are going to have to do that and are going to have to also employ branding strategies. In addition, we have to optimize for other search ares like you say in your point #2 and we must look at optimizing existing content for voice search and answers/featured snippets like you say in point #3.
Many people know which search results are paid versus natural and often give precedence to natural search options. On the other hand, if your website shows up on later pages of the search results, you might have better luck using PPC to get seen. Because PPC costs money, you might consider using it for items that you sell, as opposed to promoting a free offer or your blog. With that said, many people have successfully used PPC marketing to promote a free lead magnet.
The last thing you need to do is evaluate the results and simply do it all over again. You will need to be constantly reassessing your organic marketing plan. The situation, audience, and goals will be constantly changing. Your marketing plan will need to change to adapt to this flux. You should reevaluate your organic marketing strategy at least every quarter.

Together is better! For many businesses, the best approach is a mix of both organic and paid search results. The advantage of this approach is that organic rankings give a business credibility and evergreen search results. Paid search (PPC) provides immediate top-of-the-page listings and greater click through rates, i.e., sales, when consumers are ready to purchase.
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.
BrightEdge is the only technology that allows marketers to get an accurate understanding of how organic search rankings are tied to business value. It allows customers to track actual placement among all types of search results. BrightEdge users can switch data and reports between blended and classic rank results to gain more visibility and insight into the effects of local, images, videos, and more. You can also see how your content is performing across device types, like mobile, and in different regions within the same country. The image below from BrightEdge StoryBuilder shows Classic Rank in blue and significantly different rank for Blended or Universal results, which include universal rank types such as quick answers, images, videos, and shopping.

People find their way to your website in many different ways. If someone is already familiar with your business and knows where to find your website, they might just navigate straight to your website by typing in your domain. If someone sees a link to a blog you wrote in their Facebook newsfeed, they might click the link and come to your website that way.

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.

You job is to make your fanbase feel part of a community. It’s equally important that you respond to all queries and complaints in a timely and polite manner. This will show your customers that you genuinely care. Address any concerns that your fans have about your product and/or service and do everything you can to address any issues they might have. Use a social media monitoring platform like Hootsuite to keep track of all of your social media interactions.
Now, it is not that these sites are not interested in Google users. In fact, they have hired us to help them increase their share. However, they are getting so much traffic from sites like Facebook that it seems there is less urgency about attracting this traffic and less willingness to change the site to meet organic standards. Not long ago, sites would urgently and unquestioningly abide by Google’s standards to court that traffic.
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