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.
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.

Each paid ad will likely point to a product page, a specific landing page, or something that has the potential to drive financial results. As paid marketing would suggest by its name alone, you’re spending money on ads to drive specific actions. You need to determine ROAS beyond vanity metrics alone (like engagement or total leads). Say you drove five leads but spent $5,000 on your paid campaign. Your ROAS would be $1,000 per lead, which is a bit steep (depending on your industry). In this case, you’d want to adjust your strategy to avoid wasting money.
Paid marketing, on the other hand, allows business to target, reach, engage, and convert their audiences quickly and directly. Instead of waiting – or hoping – for someone to find your blog post in organic search or on social, paid marketing has you “pushing” content – mainly in the form of ads – directly to your target audiences. As such, it’s much more sales-forward and focused on driving specific actions, like making a purchase or attending a webinar. Here’s an example of this in action:
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.
Use long tail keywords. Don’t just go with the most popular keywords in your market. Use keywords that are more specific to your product or service. In time, Google and other search engines will identify your website or blog as a destination for that particular subject, which will boost your content in search rankings and help your ideal customers find you. These tools will help.
Always striving to learn, Don Dao is driven by new adventures and challenges. His love for media and social interactions has led him to pursue a career in marketing. Over the years, he has developed a broad skill set in all aspects of marketing, specifically in event organization, social media marketing, and content marketing. He enjoys working with passionate people to bring visions to life and inspire the world.
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.
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.
A variety of methods can increase the prominence of a webpage within the search results. Cross linking between pages of the same website to provide more links to important pages may improve its visibility.[47] Writing content that includes frequently searched keyword phrase, so as to be relevant to a wide variety of search queries will tend to increase traffic.[47] Updating content so as to keep search engines crawling back frequently can give additional weight to a site. Adding relevant keywords to a web page's meta data, including the title tag and meta description, will tend to improve the relevancy of a site's search listings, thus increasing traffic. URL normalization of web pages accessible via multiple urls, using the canonical link element[48] or via 301 redirects can help make sure links to different versions of the url all count towards the page's link popularity score.
So for the last 19 years or 20 years that Google has been around, every month Google has had, at least seasonally adjusted, not just more searches, but they've sent more organic traffic than they did that month last year. So this has been on a steady incline. There's always been more opportunity in Google search until recently, and that is because of a bunch of moves, not that Google is losing market share, not that they're receiving fewer searches, but that they are doing things that makes SEO a lot harder.
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!
In addition to giving you insight into the search volume and competition level of keywords, most keyword research tools will also give you detailed information about the average or current estimated CPC for particular keywords are. This is particularly important for businesses with smaller ad budgets and this feature allows you to predict whether certain keywords will be truly beneficial to your ad campaigns or if they’ll cost too much.
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.
Now in your reconsideration request make sure you are honest and tell Google everything that the prior agency was up too. Be sure to include all Excel information of removed links and say you are going to make an ongoing effort to remove everything negative. It is common knowledge that Google may not accept your first reconsideration request, so it may take a few times.
Retargeting: Each platform offers retargeting to help you reach people who’ve already visited your website. The benefit of retargeting is that a conversion is more likely when you know the prospect is interested. You might also upload an email list and use Facebook Custom Audiences to serve ads directly to subscribers. In the following example, we see two ads that show in the Facebook sidebar to reach former web visitors.
Basically, what I’m talking about here is finding websites that have mentioned your brand name but they haven’t actually linked to you. For example, someone may have mentioned my name in an article they wrote (“Matthew Barby did this…”) but they didn’t link to matthewbarby.com. By checking for websites like this you can find quick opportunities to get them to add a link.
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.
There’s also a lot of stuff even just around how much having a few simple images in your LinkedIn Pulse or blog post can really increase engagement. We’re becoming a much more visual society as it is. If you look at every social network, there’s now the ability to do video, to add photos. And so the more that you can capitalize on that, the better.
You can also use organic to increase audience engagement with your content. For example, let’s say you’re a ticketing website for sporting events and you know that some of your followers are rugby fanatics. If you have a new blog interviewing Dylan Hartley (current England captain), then it makes sense to personally contact them (or at least key influencers) via their preferred social network and tell them about the blog, and ask them to comment/share. It’s personal and increases the chance they’ll see/read your content.
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:
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