Those who communicate value, attract others who seek that value in that topic. Those who are in the know, have an edge over those who don’t know, and that’s valuable. It helps people get more of what they want and like, and reduce their risk and negative experiences. In business, it’s profitable to have more of the right information than your competitors ahead of time (as long as it’s done and used legally to avoid fines and reprimands like with insider trading). Having valuable information first means you can make moves and investments before competitors, to buy cheaper and/or sell higher.
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.
For our client: We rolled out numerous new pieces of content onto their blog and news section; we aimed to make the content creative and funny. As the client was in the careers space we made use of “funny interview questions” and “technical interview questions” style articles. It was amazing that one of the articles even made it to the first page of Reddit. We also pushed out content which was related to various holidays in that year and also specific to the client’s industry and also current trends in the market. 
Website saturation and popularity, or how much presence a website has on search engines, can be analyzed through the number of pages of the site that are indexed by search engines (saturation) and how many backlinks the site has (popularity). It requires pages to contain keywords people are looking for and ensure that they rank high enough in search engine rankings. Most search engines include some form of link popularity in their ranking algorithms. The following are major tools measuring various aspects of saturation and link popularity: Link Popularity, Top 10 Google Analysis, and Marketleap's Link Popularity and Search Engine Saturation.
The response rate here was huge because this is a mutually beneficial relationship. The bloggers get free products to use within their outfits (as well as more clothes for their wardrobe!) and I was able to drive traffic through to my site, get high-quality backlinks, a load of social media engagement and some high-end photography to use within my own content and on product pages.

The term “organic traffic” is used for referring to the visitors that land on your website as a result of unpaid (“organic”) search results. Organic traffic is the opposite of paid traffic, which defines the visits generated by paid ads. Visitors who are considered organic find your website after using a search engine like Google or Bing, so they are not “referred” by any other website.
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.
If we can do that effectively, it is in the best interest of the search engine to serve our content to our target audience for us, providing highly targeted visitors to our pages at no incremental cost. This is the secret to the organic channel, and why organic search listings are so valuable. Other channels often come with additional cost for each new visitor provided.
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]

Of course, there is a lot more that needs to be considered but this is a simple example of how all of these things work together. I would recommend having no less than one page for each step of the organic marketing plan if you are a small business. The larger your business the more planning that you should do. If you do not think through all the details you will miss something that will cost you.
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.
Probably the most well-known Integrated Vertical Search is  Google’s “Universal Search” –  although all of the major search engines have now adopted similar search formats. This is the practice of incorporating different types of results in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), such as news releases, images, videos, etc., depending on the query.  This was a game changer for SEO when it was first introduced – it became necessary to create and optimize many different types of content because they all show up on SERPs. The term for this comprehensive approach is referred to as Digital Asset Optimization (DAO).
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.
Those who communicate value, attract others who seek that value in that topic. Those who are in the know, have an edge over those who don’t know, and that’s valuable. It helps people get more of what they want and like, and reduce their risk and negative experiences. In business, it’s profitable to have more of the right information than your competitors ahead of time (as long as it’s done and used legally to avoid fines and reprimands like with insider trading). Having valuable information first means you can make moves and investments before competitors, to buy cheaper and/or sell higher.
Good point,The thing with this client is they wanted to mitigate the risk of removing a large number of links so high quality link building was moved in early before keyword research. So it is on a case by case basis, but defiantly a good point for most new clients I work with who do not have pre-existing issues you want to do Keyword Research very early in the process. 
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.

Cost and Sustainability. While it’s not totally free and easy, SEO can be more cost-effective in the long run as it will give you a targeted and relevant results that you are aiming for your business. With regards to sustainability, even with the smallest of a budget, you can still develop a plan that will still give you the quality of results and still keep the traffic that your business is getting.
Website owners recognized the value of a high ranking and visibility in search engine results,[6] creating an opportunity for both white hat and black hat SEO practitioners. According to industry analyst Danny Sullivan, the phrase "search engine optimization" probably came into use in 1997. Sullivan credits Bruce Clay as one of the first people to popularize the term.[7] On May 2, 2007,[8] Jason Gambert attempted to trademark the term SEO by convincing the Trademark Office in Arizona[9] that SEO is a "process" involving manipulation of keywords and not a "marketing service."
Additionally, there are many situations where PPC (a component of SEM) makes more sense than SEO. For example, if you are first launching a site and you want immediate visibility, it is a good idea to create a PPC campaign because it takes less time than SEO, but it would be unwise to strictly work with PPC and not even touch search engine optimization.
On October 17, 2002, SearchKing filed suit in the United States District Court, Western District of Oklahoma, against the search engine Google. SearchKing's claim was that Google's tactics to prevent spamdexing constituted a tortious interference with contractual relations. On May 27, 2003, the court granted Google's motion to dismiss the complaint because SearchKing "failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted."[67][68]
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You may be wondering, why pay to show up in search engines and have people click on your website pages? Can’t you just improve your website’s SEO and get online visibility and organic clicks for free? The answer is that organic search isn’t actually free. SEO strategies are very beneficial to your business, but SEO takes time to take effect, (up to 6 months) and the tactics involve a lot of work toward producing quality content. With SEM/pay-per-click advertising, you see results right away, in the form of your business name on page one of a search.
In 2013, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held in Lens.com, Inc. v. 1-800 Contacts, Inc. that online contact lens seller Lens.com did not commit trademark infringement when it purchased search advertisements using competitor 1-800 Contacts' federally registered 1800 CONTACTS trademark as a keyword. In August 2016, the Federal Trade Commission filed an administrative complaint against 1-800 Contacts alleging, among other things, that its trademark enforcement practices in the search engine marketing space have unreasonably restrained competition in violation of the FTC Act. 1-800 Contacts has denied all wrongdoing and is scheduled to appear before an FTC administrative law judge in April 2017.[29]

Developing an organic content marketing system means putting content in the right places. It’s important to understand the core demographics your content reaches. Social media platforms provide a vibrant and instantly engaged audience. These audiences comprise a staggering 42 percent of the world population. But, not all platforms are equal in terms of their marketing potential. For example, Facebook commands the lion’s share of users, with 2.167 billion active users as of January 2018. Instagram and Snapchat are where the younger audience hangs out. Statistics from 2016 reveal 59 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds use Instagram. And 56 percent of under-30s use auto-delete apps.
Once you've set up an alert within Mention, go to your settings and then 'Manage Notifications'. From here you can select the option to get a daily digest email of any mentions (I'd recommend doing this). You also have the option of getting desktop alerts - I personally find them annoying, but if you really want to stay on the ball then they could be a good idea.

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?

Beyond organic and direct traffic, you must understand the difference between all of your traffic sources and how traffic is classified. Most web analytics platforms, like Google Analytics, utilize an algorithm and flow chart based on the referring website or parameters set within the URL that determine the source of traffic. Here is a breakdown of all sources: