Google claims their users click (organic) search results more often than ads, essentially rebutting the research cited above. A 2012 Google study found that 81% of ad impressions and 66% of ad clicks happen when there is no associated organic search result on the first page.[2] Research has shown that searchers may have a bias against ads, unless the ads are relevant to the searcher's need or intent [3]
Web search is one of the most powerful tools we have today. Just like you, people from all walks of life use Google to find solutions, learn new things and understand the world around. One of those new things may be determining whether SEO vs SEM is best for your business. Whether you’re an online business or a local business, chances are that people are actively looking for you.
An important thing to note is the effect that localized searches will have on search engines. For example, say you’re in Atlanta and you’re looking for a photographer for your wedding. When you search “wedding photography” it wouldn’t be helpful to see results of photographers in Los Angeles. This is why Google takes into account where you are when you search for certain words, and shows you listings from businesses that are close in proximity to you.
Clients often ask me the difference and I give them a simple answer that normally puts an end to the conversation and their questions, much like the answer shane thomas gave, but less detailed.  Direct is people putting in your url in the top and organic is people searching for you.  Here is an example: If I want to buy a book i type in amazon.com (direct traffic) but if i forgot where to buy a book online i search for "where to buy a book online" which directs me to amazon.com (organic traffic).  When i explain it like this, a light bulb goes off and they understand.  Hope that helps.

ALT tags are HTML elements used to specify alternative text to display when the element they are applied to (such as images) can’t be rendered. ALT tags can have a strong correlation with Google SEO rankings, so when you have images and other elements on your web pages, be sure to always use a descriptive ALT tag with targeted keywords for that page.

People are more receptive to hearing these marketing messages because they are more natural and organic. They’re not paid for and stuffed in their faces through interruption marketing. An indelible experience has intrinsic emotional and psychological value, as people enjoy it. They then feel emotionally compelled to share their experience with others that they have a close relationship with as part of relating, so that they can share in the emotional experience too. This is done through conversation, phone, text, email, Facebook shares, Tweets, and the like.

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.
So, closely monitor and analyze all yours, and your competitor’s social marketing activities. Find the kind of posts your followers and target audience find interesting by analyzing social channels, campaigns and posts.  Figure out what works best for your brand in a given scenario. Based on the inputs you gain from analyzing your social channels, craft the social media marketing strategies for your company.
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.
When people hear organic/non-organic, they’d most likely envision the produce section at their local supermarket. Society has become not only aware but educated on the differences between the two and how it affects their personal lives. Although the familiarity with these options has grown significantly, many business owners are completely in the dark when it comes to organic vs. non-organic Search Engine Optimization or SEO. If you have a business online or just a website that you’re looking to draw more attention to, read on to learn more about how to make the best, cost-effective decisions to boost your search engine ranking.
Small business owners sometimes think that search engine marketing (SEM), also known as pay-per-click advertising (PPC), is not lucrative option for them. They may think they can’t afford it, or that their online presence is not important if they are a local or service-based business. The truth is, as search engines have undeniably become a part of our lifestyles as consumers, there are many ways to leverage them for businesses of any size. This post will introduce you to the basics and benefits of search engine marketing (SEM).
When you’re truly faced with the dilemma, “Organic vs. paid search traffic?” don’t get too worked up. There’s always a solution to your specific situation – trust us, we deal with it all of the time! Every business is different and has different goals, so the perfect search marketing mix does exist for your company. First, think about each of these bullet points, and at the end ask yourself, “Am I willing to commit?”
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.

So just how much of the traffic that finds itself labeled as direct is actually organic? Groupon conducted an experiment to try to find out, according to Search Engine Land. They de-indexed their site for the better part of a day and looked at direct and organic traffic, by hour and by browser, to pages with long URLs, knowing that pages with shorter URLs actually do get a large amount of direct traffic, as they can be typed quickly and easily into a browser. The results showed a 50% drop in direct traffic, clearly demonstrating how all of these other factors come into play during the analytics process.

This is one of the more apparent benefits of organic search traffic. If your website ranks for a relevant keyword, you’ll enjoy regular targeted traffic. This consistent flow of traffic will open the floodgates for new leads and customers. That alone is a sweet deal. But here’s the thing about an organic audience: You have no choice but to create a rich content experience.
Search engines: Google vs. Bing. Google was the first search engine that provided better search results and people told others about it so it spread virally and became a verb “Google it”, whereas Bing is trying to buy it’s way into the market, doing ads, deals with Facebook and Yahoo, etc. Most people weren’t asking for a 2nd, “me-too” search engine, the first one solved their search pain and continues to do so, so trust was built and people have remained loyal to it.
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.
Organic search should not be viewed as just one of many different marketing strategies. Instead, it should be the cornerstone of your efforts. Your materials should all be optimized to maximize their appearance on the SERPs. You should also be using the insights that can be gleaned from organic search to inform the rest of your marketing endeavors.
Before you dig into some of the more technical ways to improve SEO ranking, always remember that writing compelling, high-quality content that attracts interest and compels visitors to share it and link back to it is vital. Good content has the best chance of being viral content, and Google rewards content virality heavily in its rankings algorithm.
For our client: We rolled out a successful implementation of rel="author" for the three in-house content writers the company had. The client had over 300+ articles made by these content writers over the years and it was possible to implement rel="author" for all the aged articles. I advise anyone who has a large section of content to do so as it will only benefit the website. We were also in the process of rolling out further schema markup to the site's course content as it only has a benefit for CTR.
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?
In my opinion, for many business owners new to the world of digital marketing, there is often a common misconception that SEO and social media are separate entities, each operating in their own world with distinct goals. SEO and organic social media marketing work together to create value and provide relevance for your audience. Any good digital marketing strategy should do its best to have both SEO and social media working together, in tandem.
Conversely, if your business is in a tight spot, you can decrease your budget or stop spending altogether. You can also specify when you advertise, so if you are having a sale this month and want to reach a larger audience, you can run a campaign focused on the sale just during this month. Or, if you offer special deals on Tuesdays, you can schedule your ads to run only on Tuesdays.
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.
When people hear organic/non-organic, they’d most likely envision the produce section at their local supermarket. Society has become not only aware but educated on the differences between the two and how it affects their personal lives. Although the familiarity with these options has grown significantly, many business owners are completely in the dark when it comes to organic vs. non-organic Search Engine Optimization or SEO. If you have a business online or just a website that you’re looking to draw more attention to, read on to learn more about how to make the best, cost-effective decisions to boost your search engine ranking.
Since there is an obvious barrier of entry for anyone trying to beat you once you’re established, you won’t have to worry about having competitors “buying” their way to the top. Their only option is pay per click ads, but then again, it isn’t the same as getting a higher position on the SERPs. Again, this is assuming that you took the right steps and were patient enough to solidify your place in the top search results. 
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. 

Often the line between pay per click advertising and paid inclusion is debatable. Some have lobbied for any paid listings to be labeled as an advertisement, while defenders insist they are not actually ads since the webmasters do not control the content of the listing, its ranking, or even whether it is shown to any users. Another advantage of paid inclusion is that it allows site owners to specify particular schedules for crawling pages. In the general case, one has no control as to when their page will be crawled or added to a search engine index. Paid inclusion proves to be particularly useful for cases where pages are dynamically generated and frequently modified.
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.

Well, yes and no. Sure, you can get hit with an algorithm change or penalty that destroys all your traffic. However, if you have good people who know what they are doing, this is not likely to happen, and if it does, it is easy (in most cases) to get your visits back. Panda and Penguin are another story, but if you get hit by those it is typically not accidental.
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