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?
Facebook ads contain links back to your business’s page. Even if the goal of your ads is to get people to click on a link that takes them off of Facebook, there’s a chance they’ll go directly to your Facebook page to learn more about you. If your page is empty or outdated, that’s where their curiosity ends. If you’re spending the time and money to advertise on Facebook, make sure you follow through with an up-to-date Facebook page.
In the zero-results sets, Google was still willing to show AdWords, which means if we have customer targets, we can use remarketed lists for search advertising (RLSA), or we can run paid ads and still optimize for those. We could also try and claim some of the data that might show up in zero-result SERPs. We don't yet know what that will be after Google rolls it back out, but we'll find out in the future.
Because so few ordinary users (38% according to Pew Research Center) realized that many of the highest placed "results" on search engine results pages (SERPs) were ads, the search engine optimization industry began to distinguish between ads and natural results.[citation needed] The perspective among general users was that all results were, in fact, "results." So the qualifier "organic" was invented to distinguish non-ad search results from ads.[citation needed]
Organic is what people are looking for; the rest of these simply put things in front of people who may or may not be seeking what you offer. We know that approximately X number of people are looking for Y every day. So if we can get on front of those people, we have a much greater opportunity to create long-term relationships and increase our overall ROI.

Regarding Link Detox, links it diagnoses as Toxic are generally fine as they're either not indexed by Google or have malware/viruses/etc., but I recommend a manual review of any diagnosed as Suspicious. I used it recently to get started cleaning up our backlinks and some legit sites and blogs were under Suspicious simply because they didn't have many links pointing to them.
Paid advertising and sponsored social posts cost money but work fast, so they’re a good way to give an immediate boost to your traffic regardless of what stage your business is in. In fact, paid strategies are a good way for new companies to get their names out there while they work on their organic strategy. However, paid traffic drops as soon as the payments drop, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a healthy amount of organic content before ending a sponsored campaign.
Clients turn to search engines because they really need a product or service. They have already created a need; it only remains to find a company that suits their interests. It is a medium that can easily encourage conversion, if the company offers what the customer is looking for; the visit will result in action by the customer, either a direct purchase, request for a quote, or more information for a later purchase.
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.
For a long time, digital marketers summed up the properties of direct and organic traffic pretty similarly and simply. To most, organic traffic consists of visits from search engines, while direct traffic is made up of visits from people entering your company URL into their browser. This explanation, however, is too simplified and leaves most digital marketers short-handed when it comes to completely understanding and gaining insights from web traffic, especially organic and direct sources.
A meta description is a short blurb about the particular page of your website. This is a great place to insert keywords easily. However, you also want to include helpful information for potential site visitors to draw them into clicking on your website. This blurb will appear in search engine results pages under your H1 title tag and URL of your webpage.

To do this, I often align the launch of my content with a couple of guest posts on relevant websites to drive a load of relevant traffic to it, as well as some relevant links. This has a knock-on effect toward the organic amplification of the content and means that you at least have something to show for the content (in terms of ROI) if it doesn't do as well as you expect organically.
Paid advertising and sponsored social posts cost money but work fast, so they’re a good way to give an immediate boost to your traffic regardless of what stage your business is in. In fact, paid strategies are a good way for new companies to get their names out there while they work on their organic strategy. However, paid traffic drops as soon as the payments drop, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a healthy amount of organic content before ending a sponsored campaign.
And executives in particular, whether you’re getting help from an external coach like myself, or have an internal expert that can help them with their profile, this is really important because your executives are the key to really building thought leadership. I know even at Act-On, Bill Pierznik has been making some really amazing posts on LinkedIn around his thoughts on the business world, and it’s garnered a lot of engagement. So, the more you could have your executives be the voice for your company and really get their profiles up and running, the better.

On April 24, 2012 many started to see that Google has started to penalize companies that are buying links for the purpose of passing off the rank. The Google Update was called Penguin. Since then, there have been several different Penguin/Panda updates rolled out by Google. SEM has, however, nothing to do with link buying and focuses on organic SEO and PPC management. As of October 20, 2014 Google has released three official revisions of their Penguin Update.
Solid analysis on this tough topic Rand. It will definitely be interested to see what in-serp features Google continues to add to keep you on their site as opposed to clicking through to a website. I think SEOs need to take more consideration into branding and content marketing tactics in order to supplement potential lost organic traffic as time goes on.

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.
Hey, Matt! Thank you for your sharing, and I learned much from it, but I still have a question. We began to do SEO work for our site 2 years ago, and our organic traffic grew 5 times ( from 8K to 40K every day). But two years later, it is very difficult to get it grow more, even it drop to 3.2K every day. So can you give me any advice to make our site's traffic grow again? Thank you in advance!
I’ve always been a believer that hard work gets the best results, and in practice it always ends up being true. On the web it’s no different. If you want more organic traffic, you have to work for it. That means giving your best effort every time, going after opportunities your competitors have missed, being consistent, guest blogging strategically, and staying on Google’s good side.
Craft or improve your email marketing strategy. Consider implementing Calls to Action that engage your readership in immediate ways. This works whether you’re selling a product, hosting an event, or delivering new content for your subscribers to enjoy. Set time aside to regularly draft emails–consider making a goal to write a set number of email drafts per week.
All your content, social media, brand, and other online assets that you develop in that process are there to stay. And they keep going up in value as time goes by. Even if you stopped investing in organic search, these assets would still be working for your business. You’d get traffic because you’ve built an ecosystem that fuels itself. Now imagine that you’re generating traffic and you’re paying little to no money for it. Your cost per organic visitor will decrease by many factors as your return increases. Bear in mind that this is a cumulative effect that happens over time. Still, it’s a fantastic position to be in.
Or, you could make up a fun game where the first person posts a picture illustrating their pet’s name. The next person has to guess their pet’s name based on the picture. So, if I had a dog named Spot, I might post a picture of a spot. (I did say to keep it simple!) Of course, it’s easy to guess, but it’s also fun and all you have left to do is sit back and watch the comments roll in.
That said, ground-up marketing works because it’s work. There’s no substitute for careful attention to your website’s content and careful curation of your business’s social media presence. Paid ads can be an effective tool within a high-budget marketing strategy, but if the consumer arrives at your website and doesn’t find what they’re looking for, how is that investment working for you? It’s not. If a sponsored tweet draws them in but a discrepancy in expectation chases them away, what’s the benefit there? It’s absent. Organic marketing is a long process, but ultimately it will yield more authentic customer engagement and more accurate SEO.

In 2014, BrightEdge published research that showed that 51% of channel traffic came from organic search and that it was far and away the largest channel. In the intervening years there were significant search algorithm changes that dramatically altered the layout and ranking of the search engine results pages and saw an increase in the space taken by Local, Videos, Images, Ads, and Quick Answers.

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."
It increases relevancy: Siloing ensures all topically related content is connected, and this in turn drives up relevancy. For example, linking to each of the individual yoga class pages (e.g. Pilates, Yoga RX, etc) from the “Yoga classes” page helps confirm—to both visitors and Google—these pages are in fact different types of yoga classes. Google can then feel more confident ranking these pages for related terms, as it is clearer the pages are relevant to the search query.
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.

Within social media, there are a lot of various ways to optimize your targeting organically. While paying for social media marketing can be effective, adjusting the targeting on your posts can boost your organic reach. Within Facebook and Twitter, you can adjust for your posts to target the following criteria: gender, relationship, status, education level, age, location, language, interests, and post end date. With these targeting attributes available, you can better target your audience so the right people can see your content.

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."

It means that every piece of content that leads searchers to you is extending your brand equity. Not only that, you’re creating multiple touch points, so potential customers have every opportunity to discover your business. It takes on average of 6-8 touch points with a brand before someone becomes “sales-ready.” Too many? Well, for some industries, it’s way more. One woman’s car-buying journey took 900 digital touch points spanning three months.

Let’s first take a quick look at what organic marketing is and what it is not. Organic marketing is an array of marketing disciplines that create a cohesive and comprehensive approach to inbound marketing. It is using the online search and traffic habits of potential clients to reach them by creating high-quality and high-visibility content for them to consume.
Social is no longer just about conversation and content; it’s now an established channel for customer acquisition, remarketing and engaging existing fans/customers to support retention programs. It may be relatively immature compared to search and email marketing but it’s a channel in which most ecommerce teams are ramping up investment (people and tools).
Melissa: I think with thought leadership there’s a variety of different ways that you can go about this. But one of the best ways is really just utilizing that blog feature, the LinkedIn Pulse, part of LinkedIn, because you are already connected with the best audience possible. This is your business network, right? And then every time someone in your network likes or engages with your blog post, it amplifies it to their network. It’s like having a built in audience for your blog without all of that groundwork of creating your own blog.
The first one is pretty powerful and pretty awesome, which is investing in demand generation, rather than just demand serving, but demand generation for brand and branded product names. Why does this work? Well, because let's say, for example, I'm searching for SEO tools. What do I get? I get back a list of results from Google with a bunch of mostly articles saying these are the top SEO tools. In fact, Google has now made a little one box, card-style list result up at the top, the carousel that shows different brands of SEO tools. I don't think Moz is actually listed in there because I think they're pulling from the second or the third lists instead of the first one. Whatever the case, frustrating, hard to optimize for. Google could take away demand from it or click-through rate opportunity from it.
Because so few ordinary users (38% according to Pew Research Center) realized that many of the highest placed "results" on search engine results pages (SERPs) were ads, the search engine optimization industry began to distinguish between ads and natural results.[citation needed] The perspective among general users was that all results were, in fact, "results." So the qualifier "organic" was invented to distinguish non-ad search results from ads.[citation needed]
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