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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?
hey james - congrats on your success here. just a question about removing crummy links. for my own website, there are hundreds of thousands of backlinks in webmaster tools pointing to my site. The site has no penalties or anything  - the traffic seems to be growing every week. would you recommend hiring someone to go through the link profile anyway to remove crummy links that just occur naturally?
Fresh fruits and vegetables have been the top selling category of organically grown food since the organic food industry started retailing products over 3 decades ago, and they are still outselling other food categories, according to the Nutrition Business Journal. Produce accounted for 43 percent of U.S. organic food sales in 2012, followed by dairy (15 percent), packaged/prepared foods (11 percent), beverages (11 percent), bread/grains (9 percent), snack foods (5 percent), meat/fish/poultry (3 percent), and condiments (3 percent).
Traffic data is a great way to take the temperature of your website and marketing initiatives. When you are writing and promoting blog content on a regular basis, you can use traffic data to track results and correlate these efforts to actual ROI. Be sure to look at traffic numbers over long-term intervals to see trends and report on improvement over time.  

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.


Organic and paid social media—you shouldn’t have one without the other. A solid organic strategy improves your online presence and reputation, and a paid strategy increases your brand’s reach and awareness to targeted audiences. Managing both aspects of social media takes time and planning, but the results of a well-executed campaign are worth the effort. No time to handle it on your own? We’ve got you covered.
In 2007, Google announced a campaign against paid links that transfer PageRank.[29] On June 15, 2009, Google disclosed that they had taken measures to mitigate the effects of PageRank sculpting by use of the nofollow attribute on links. Matt Cutts, a well-known software engineer at Google, announced that Google Bot would no longer treat nofollowed links in the same way, to prevent SEO service providers from using nofollow for PageRank sculpting.[30] As a result of this change the usage of nofollow led to evaporation of PageRank. In order to avoid the above, SEO engineers developed alternative techniques that replace nofollowed tags with obfuscated Javascript and thus permit PageRank sculpting. Additionally several solutions have been suggested that include the usage of iframes, Flash and Javascript.[31]
Search engines may penalize sites they discover using black hat methods, either by reducing their rankings or eliminating their listings from their databases altogether. Such penalties can be applied either automatically by the search engines' algorithms, or by a manual site review. One example was the February 2006 Google removal of both BMW Germany and Ricoh Germany for use of deceptive practices.[53] Both companies, however, quickly apologized, fixed the offending pages, and were restored to Google's list.[54]
Website ranking doesn't just come from what's on your website. Google, the number one search engine used today, uses a variety of other factors to rank websites. Things like your social media activity, appearances on other sites through interviews or guest blogging, and being listed as a resource on another site all increase your standing in Google's eyes.
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?
Local SERPs that remove almost all need for a website. Then local SERPs, which have been getting more and more aggressively tuned so that you never need to click the website, and, in fact, Google has made it harder and harder to find the website in both mobile and desktop versions of local searches. So if you search for Thai restaurant and you try and find the website of the Thai restaurant you're interested in, as opposed to just information about them in Google's local pack, that's frustratingly difficult. They are making those more and more aggressive and putting them more forward in the results.
SEM is the wider discipline that incorporates SEO. SEM includes both paid search results (using tools like Google Adwords or Bing Ads, formerly known as Microsoft adCenter) and organic search results (SEO). SEM uses paid advertising with AdWords or Bing Ads, pay per click (particularly beneficial for local providers as it enables potential consumers to contact a company directly with one click), article submissions, advertising and making sure SEO has been done. A keyword analysis is performed for both SEO and SEM, but not necessarily at the same time. SEM and SEO both need to be monitored and updated frequently to reflect evolving best practices.

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.

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.
Hi Rand! Thanks for a really informative and thought provoking Whiteboard Friday. I agree with Namrata about the challenges to local and small businesses that all the rapid changes with little to know warning from Google as far as they're concerned. In many cases, they're just rapping their heads and marketing strategies around having someone create and optimize their website and content for how Google SERPs used to work, and even with basic GMB listings, they have been unaware or unsure of how to use them. Some have been taken advantage of because of lack of understanding and awareness of how Google listings and GMB work and that it's free.
Fix the meta description. Phil Tadros, leader of coworking space Space Doejo, emphasized the importance of the meta description. “I went out of my way to spend time tweaking and fine-tuning the meta description of my site," Tadros said, "because this is one of the first things people see. It’s vital that you make a promise you can keep.” Your meta description is your first chance to encourage people to click on to your website. There are plenty of plugins allowing you to edit the meta description if you don’t have a custom-made platform. A meta description may not impact SEO directly the way it used to, but it enhances the user experience.
Another way search engine marketing is managed is by contextual advertising. Here marketers place ads on other sites or portals that carry information relevant to their products so that the ads jump into the circle of vision of browsers who are seeking information from those sites. A successful SEM plan is the approach to capture the relationships amongst information searchers, businesses, and search engines. Search engines were not important to some industries in the past, but over the past years the use of search engines for accessing information has become vital to increase business opportunities.[31] The use of SEM strategic tools for businesses such as tourism can attract potential consumers to view their products, but it could also pose various challenges.[32] These challenges could be the competition that companies face amongst their industry and other sources of information that could draw the attention of online consumers.[31] To assist the combat of challenges, the main objective for businesses applying SEM is to improve and maintain their ranking as high as possible on SERPs so that they can gain visibility. Therefore, search engines are adjusting and developing algorithms and the shifting criteria by which web pages are ranked sequentially to combat against search engine misuse and spamming, and to supply the most relevant information to searchers.[31] This could enhance the relationship amongst information searchers, businesses, and search engines by understanding the strategies of marketing to attract business.
Nathan Gotch is the founder of Gotch SEO, a white label SEO services provider and SEO training company based in St. Louis. Gotch SEO is now one of the top SEO blogs in the world and over 300 entrepreneurs have joined his SEO training platform, Gotch SEO Academy. Nathan’s SEO strategies and advice have also been featured on Forbes, Entrepreneur, Business.com, and Search Engine Journal.

Apart from the above mentioned factors, analyzing your competitors’ social strategy, the industry your business falls into, and individual social platforms will also help you in deciding the right social strategy. For instance, last year Facebook reduced the exposure of organic content, so for exponential results on Facebook a brand must go for paid ads.

It’s not going to run up your grocery bill. In fact, investing time and energy in developing an organic marketing strategy is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure the long-term success of your business’s digital presence. I’ve helped businesses design and run organic marketing campaigns for years. It’s one of the most effective ways to build an authentic audience and fan base for your product or service. It takes more time, consistency and patience to pull off, but it’s worth the extra effort.
Network marketing: Network marketing companies have a great business model (for those who own the company), because they only pay their sales people (a.k.a. “independent business owners”) when they make a sale or recruit another person. They only pay on performance. So to sell a bunch of product, the direct sales company really doesn’t go directly to the consumer through TV or magazine ads or similar methods that could easily cost millions; instead they go indirectly through their sales people and only pay for the word of mouth advertising as a commission on a product sale. It’s really savvy business strategy that’s low-risk and high-reward, if it spreads far and fast enough by emotionally exciting the distributors. Distributors are heavily using social media like Facebook, YouTube, blogging and the like to generate sales and grow their network online.
Organic search is a method businesses use when they want to rank high on a search engine’s results page without having to invest in an ad campaign. Usually, this method involves using optimization practices on web pages and blogs and linking strategies, and conducting industry keyword searches that search engines view as valuable. Search algorithms are not entirely known, but marketing experts carefully study results to gather insight into how Google and other search engines rank pages. Some of the organic search engine optimization practices also include using relevant keywords on a page title, regularly posting optimized-blog articles to your site, and engaging with customers on social media platforms. This process takes time. The more you post and optimize your pages, the higher your results, as search engines see your content as relevant and trustworthy.

Understanding the working mechanism of social algorithms is not a piece of cake. The algorithm for each social platform works differently. For instance, on Facebook, a core factor that affects the rankings of a post is its relevancy score, whereas on YouTube the total watch time of the video per session decides whether a video enters a ‘Recommended Video’ section or not.
One of the things that can slow-bleed the traffic from your site is the quality (or lack thereof) of the content you publish on your site. Previous Google updates like Panda have already been released specifically to deal with the issue of low-quality content on websites. Long story short: Panda intended to stop sites with bad content from appearing in the search results.
So, Google has accepted the reconsideration request, you can now move forward with creating high-quality link building and a content creation strategy. I see every one creating threads about great content marketing examples, but the problem is that most of the time these are big business examples. SME’s and start-ups do not have big dollars to do such things, so the next best thing is to is to create a content market calendar for your clients. 

Use social media. Build a presence on social media networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ etc. All of these activities help to get your name out and website address out on the internet. Read about how we doubled our social media audience in a week. Add share buttons to your site to make it easy for people to share your content. And write content worthy of sharing.
PPC (paid search marketing): PPC (pay per click) advertising involves paying to have search engines display your website offer in or alongside search results. For example, Google's Adwords program will display your ad at the top or right side of the search results page (placement depends on many factors including keywords and quality of ad). Google will also feed your ads to websites running its Adsense program. There are other types of PPC marketing, such as Facebook Ads. In PPC advertising, you pay each time someone clicks on your offer. Paid search differs from organize search in that you're paying to have your website or offer displayed higher in search results.
Ad groups allow for each campaign to be further subcategorized for relevance. In our hardware store example, one ad group could be for different types of rakes or varying models of leaf blowers. For the power tools campaign, one ad group might focus on power drills, while another could focus on circular saws. This level of organization might take slightly longer to set up initially, but the rewards – namely higher CTRs at lower cost – make this effort worthwhile in the long run.
Organic marketing, of course, is different from outbound or paid marketing. Outbound marketing seeks to place advertising and promotional content in front of people who are not looking for it. In our era of big data, the ability to target advertising has blurred the line between in and outbound marketing slightly. Paid marketing is good at generating traffic when it is needed. However, organic marketing will continue to provide leads over time without the need to continue to spend on advertising.

These types of keywords each tell you something different about the user. For example, someone using an informational keyword is not in the same stage of awareness as someone employing a navigational keyword. Here’s the thing about awareness. Informational needs change as awareness progresses. You want your prospects to be highly aware. If you’re on a bare-bones budget, you can be resourceful and achieve that with one piece of content.


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.

In today’s complex organizations, IT departments are already overburdened and experiencing expertise gaps, shrinking budgets and only so many hours to get IT done. Migrating to O365 is a top priority for many organizations, but it can also be costlier, more complicated and more time-consuming than expected — especially when internal IT resources are already stretched … Continue Reading...

PPC gives you the ability to fix your daily budget depending on how much you’re willing to spend. And since you can start off with a small amount, you don’t have to put a heavy investment at stake before testing the waters. Once you know a certain campaign is giving you a good return on investment, you can ramp up your budget and increase your ad spendings without worrying about incurring losses.
‘There’s really two core strategies I always recommend. The first is looking after prospecting in groups. This one is a big one because I think this is one of the single best ways for sales and marketing to drum up new business on LinkedIn. But the caveat is I’ve also seen this go horribly wrong. And without getting into too much detail, there’s a few recommendations I have to avoid some of those pitfalls.
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.
SEO may generate an adequate return on investment. However, search engines are not paid for organic search traffic, their algorithms change, and there are no guarantees of continued referrals. Due to this lack of guarantees and certainty, a business that relies heavily on search engine traffic can suffer major losses if the search engines stop sending visitors.[60] Search engines can change their algorithms, impacting a website's placement, possibly resulting in a serious loss of traffic. According to Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, in 2010, Google made over 500 algorithm changes – almost 1.5 per day.[61] It is considered wise business practice for website operators to liberate themselves from dependence on search engine traffic.[62] In addition to accessibility in terms of web crawlers (addressed above), user web accessibility has become increasingly important for SEO.

In 1998, two graduate students at Stanford University, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, developed "Backrub", a search engine that relied on a mathematical algorithm to rate the prominence of web pages. The number calculated by the algorithm, PageRank, is a function of the quantity and strength of inbound links.[21] PageRank estimates the likelihood that a given page will be reached by a web user who randomly surfs the web, and follows links from one page to another. In effect, this means that some links are stronger than others, as a higher PageRank page is more likely to be reached by the random web surfer.
While inbound links are important, backlinks are just as important, but a little more difficult to acquire. We already went over how backlinks are important for building your domain authority, but the process to acquiring them can cost you hundreds. If you don’t have a budget for backlinks, try building relationships with other relevant quality websites that will link to your webpage.
Click through rate: Except for high purchase intent searches, users will click on paid search listings at a lower rate than organic search listings. Organic listings have more credibility with search engine users. In one UK study, published by Econsultancy, only 6% of clicks were the result of paid listings. In another study, it was 10%. The important thing to remember is that click through rate varies by purchase intent. Organic rankings will get more click through rates for “top of funnel” keyword search queries.
Thanks for the comment, I would not say it is impossible to create high quality backlinks from scratch without content, you just need to do a review on competitor backlinks and see if their are any easy targets. We have had some good luck in the education space acquiring links on the same pages as competitor from PR5+ edu sites. It all revolves around the outreach strategy in which you put in place.
Those who provide the valuable information, which reduces risk and increases reward to those receiving it, are rewarded if what they say is true and creates a good experience. This is law of reciprocity (as mentioned in the book Influence) basically says give to receive, which is a universal truth. This sense of indebtedness, of owing someone, is tracked in our brains and feelings, in most part hidden from society. It can be explicitly tracked and accounted for using technology, like affiliate links. Affiliate links are provided to referrers to refer others to a product or service. When potential buyer completes an action leading to or completing a transaction, the referrer receives an affiliate commission. As simple as that sounds, there are a lot of risks that can happen along the way, such as refunds, frozen funds, and click fraud. xDSpot handles these risks better than any other affiliate tracking system out there, making it the preferred brand for those in the know.

So, you have downloaded your links profiles on a CSV and you now have an extensive list of all your linked domains. If you have been doing SEO for 8+ years like me you can probably just know from analysis which links are bad from a TLD and URL point of view. If you do not know too much you can use tools such as Link Detox: http://www.linkdetox.com/ to complete analysis of your link profile. I would always consult the advice of an expert SEO in this instance because it is easy for these tools to mistake good and bad links.

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.


With organic search engine optimization (as opposed to pay-per-click ads) people will more easily find your website on search engines while they are looking for a product or service you provide. Making it more likely that they will convert from visitor to customer. No one searches for a product or service that they don’t want, so they’re already in the mood to buy. You just have to stand out among the competition. Additionally, when you rank on the front page of a search engine, you are showing potential consumers the legitimacy of your products or services because of your high ranking.
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