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. 
Paid search advertising has not been without controversy and the issue of how search engines present advertising on their search result pages has been the target of a series of studies and reports[23][24][25] by Consumer Reports WebWatch. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also issued a letter[26] in 2002 about the importance of disclosure of paid advertising on search engines, in response to a complaint from Commercial Alert, a consumer advocacy group with ties to Ralph Nader.
In 2007, U.S. advertisers spent US $24.6 billion on search engine marketing.[3] In Q2 2015, Google (73.7%) and the Yahoo/Bing (26.3%) partnership accounted for almost 100% of U.S. search engine spend.[4] As of 2006, SEM was growing much faster than traditional advertising and even other channels of online marketing.[5] Managing search campaigns is either done directly with the SEM vendor or through an SEM tool provider. It may also be self-serve or through an advertising agency. As of October 2016, Google leads the global search engine market with a market share of 89.3%. Bing comes second with a market share of 4.36%, Yahoo comes third with a market share of 3.3%, and Chinese search engine Baidu is fourth globally with a share of about 0.68%.[6]
In addition to helping you find keywords you should be bidding on, thorough keyword research can also help you identify negative keywords – search terms that you should exclude from your campaigns. Negative keywords aren’t terms with negative connotations, but rather irrelevant terms that are highly unlikely to result in conversions. For example, if you sell ice cream, you might want to exclude the keyword “ice cream recipes”, as users searching for ice cream recipes are unlikely to be in the market for your product.
Another part of SEM is social media marketing (SMM). SMM is a type of marketing that involves exploiting social media to influence consumers that one company’s products and/or services are valuable.[22] Some of the latest theoretical advances include search engine marketing management (SEMM). SEMM relates to activities including SEO but focuses on return on investment (ROI) management instead of relevant traffic building (as is the case of mainstream SEO). SEMM also integrates organic SEO, trying to achieve top ranking without using paid means to achieve it, and pay per click SEO. For example, some of the attention is placed on the web page layout design and how content and information is displayed to the website visitor. SEO & SEM are two pillars of one marketing job and they both run side by side to produce much better results than focusing on only one pillar.
Utilizing keywords in your URLs will also help with your rankings. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to change the home page URL of your website without your domain authority being reset. However, each additional page you add is a place to insert a keyword, as long as it is relevant to the actual page content. We’ll go over blogging shortly, but URLs of blog posts are a great place to use your keywords.
Hi Chris, "Good content" means a couple of things - good for readers and good for Google. Good content for readers means that the content answers questions, provides value, offers solutions, and is engaging. You want to keep the reader on the page and on your website for as long as possible. To make good content for Google, you have to provide the search engine with a set of signals - e.g., keywords, backlinks, low bounce rates, etc... The idea is that if you make good content for readers (engaging, valuable, actionable, and informative), your content will get more engagement. When your content gets more engagement Google will see it as good content too and put it higher in the SERPs. Making "good content" is about striking that balance. Let us know if that answered your question!

‘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.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine's unpaid results—often referred to as "natural", "organic", or "earned" results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a website appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine's users; these visitors can then be converted into customers.[1] SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, video search, academic search,[2] news search, and industry-specific vertical search engines. SEO differs from local search engine optimization in that the latter is focused on optimizing a business' online presence so that its web pages will be displayed by search engines when a user enters a local search for its products or services. The former instead is more focused on national or international searches.
Let’s assume that your goal is customer acquisition. You know you’ve acquired a customer when you make a sale. So, you’d set up a sales conversion goal. To do that, click on “New Goal.” In the goal setup section, you can either select “template” or “custom.” Custom gives you more flexibility, so go with that option. Go on to the “goal description.” This is where you define your goal by naming it and selecting the type. For customer acquisition, you want to select “Destination.”
Early versions of search algorithms relied on webmaster-provided information such as the keyword meta tag or index files in engines like ALIWEB. Meta tags provide a guide to each page's content. Using metadata to index pages was found to be less than reliable, however, because the webmaster's choice of keywords in the meta tag could potentially be an inaccurate representation of the site's actual content. Inaccurate, incomplete, and inconsistent data in meta tags could and did cause pages to rank for irrelevant searches.[10][dubious – discuss] Web content providers also manipulated some attributes within the HTML source of a page in an attempt to rank well in search engines.[11] By 1997, search engine designers recognized that webmasters were making efforts to rank well in their search engine, and that some webmasters were even manipulating their rankings in search results by stuffing pages with excessive or irrelevant keywords. Early search engines, such as Altavista and Infoseek, adjusted their algorithms to prevent webmasters from manipulating rankings.[12]

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.
Whether it may be on social media or your blog, it’s important to publish evergreen posts that do not contain an expiration date. These posts should be engaging and stand out for your readers to stay intrigued. If you’re having trouble of thinking about what to post, consider content that is educational and fun. Statistics show that users tend to share more positive posts than negative ones.
Aggressive "answer" boxes. So you search for a question, and Google provides not just necessarily a featured snippet, which can earn you a click-through, but a box that truly answers the searcher's question, that comes directly from Google themselves, or a set of card-style results that provides a list of all the things that the person might be looking for.
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:
And the other way to do that is really through status updates, very short simple things to start engaging your audience, talk about the things you’re learning in the business world. And when it comes to what that strategy can look like, what I always recommend is you sit down with whoever you think are going to be your thought leaders and figure out what part of the business do they really want to position themselves as a thought leader about.
As pointed out, they are certainly not the same, but it might not be a bad idea to track and report on the direct traffic. If there has been outreach done and the company is mentioned in print with a URL, direct traffic (along with some search traffic on the URL or business name itself) is likely to go up. If your email newsletters are not tagged, they're likely to show up under direct traffic. Depending on your role, some of what you do under the greater SEO/inbound marketing role can show up under the direct traffic.
For a small business, it is better to start with Organic SEO because aside from it is a low-cost investment, it will build your internet presence gradually and eventually have a solid foundation in your own niche – provided that you are doing the right way. It is not bad to invest in non-organic. You just have to make sure that you are investing on the right campaigns and not on the overly artificial ways to gain traffic and rank. Avoid investing too much on paid advertising and instead invest on creating relevant and useful content.

Every online marketer swears by search engine optimization and its effectiveness. Prior to the infamous Google Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates, SEO made a lot of black hat or unethical marketers rich. But things are no longer that easy. Google has upped the game, and now, it’s all about the kind of quality and the amount of value you’re able to deliver.

There is limited real estate for the top positions in organic search results. With the amount of content on the web today and the number of competitors you have, it can be hard to get in a top position, even despite your best efforts. If you’re a new business or an existing one trying to build your online presence, SEM/PPC advertising can get you in front of highly targeted customers.
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?
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.
Companies that employ overly aggressive techniques can get their client websites banned from the search results. In 2005, the Wall Street Journal reported on a company, Traffic Power, which allegedly used high-risk techniques and failed to disclose those risks to its clients.[15] Wired magazine reported that the same company sued blogger and SEO Aaron Wall for writing about the ban.[16] Google's Matt Cutts later confirmed that Google did in fact ban Traffic Power and some of its clients.[17]
The term was first used by Internet theorist John Kilroy in a 2004 article on paid search marketing.[citation needed] Because the distinction is important (and because the word "organic" has many metaphorical uses) the term is now in widespread use within the search engine optimization and web marketing industry. As of July 2009, "organic search" is now common currency outside the specialist web marketing industry, even used frequently by Google (throughout the Google Analytics site, for instance).