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.


I'm thinking about "less to do" (linking-social media) sites with physical products … Amazon and other merchants. And adding a PPC campaign instead of using social media and constantly toiling away building links and writing articles. Is there an easy way to get sites like this to rank while profiting with some paid traffic? Your opinion on this dilemma .. SEO vs PAID traffic or both would be much appreciated.


If the first era of social was engagement, the new era is acquisition and conversion. Social commerce is growing much faster than retail ecommerce, although it’s early days. The top 500 retailers earned $3.3bn from social commerce in 2014, up 26%. Many retailers I work with are seeing social driving bigger % increases in retail traffic than any other channel.
Organic products have shifted from being a lifestyle choice for a small share of consumers to being consumed at least occasionally by a majority of Americans. National surveys conducted by the Hartman Group and Food Marketing Institute during the early 2000s found that two-thirds of surveyed shoppers bought organically grown foods. For a literature review of organic consumer studies, see the ERS report:
If we can do that effectively, it is in the best interest of the search engine to serve our content to our target audience for us, providing highly targeted visitors to our pages at no incremental cost. This is the secret to the organic channel, and why organic search listings are so valuable. Other channels often come with additional cost for each new visitor provided.

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).
You can also make sure that you’re not bleeding revenue due to friction somewhere along that path. How does that work? When you focus on organic search traffic, you’re compelled to take the battle to multiple marketing fronts. While SEO outperforms all other channels regarding ROI, it doesn’t always work in isolation. Email marketing, content marketing, social media, and other channels can all serve your SEO strategy. I’ll tell you something about marketers who are truly worth their stuff.
Back end tools, including Web analytic tools and HTML validators, provide data on a website and its visitors and allow the success of a website to be measured. They range from simple traffic counters to tools that work with log files and to more sophisticated tools that are based on page tagging (putting JavaScript or an image on a page to track actions). These tools can deliver conversion-related information. There are three major tools used by EBSCO: (a) log file analyzing tool: WebTrends by NetiQ; (b) tag-based analytic tool: WebSideStory's Hitbox; and (c) transaction-based tool: TeaLeaf RealiTea. Validators check the invisible parts of websites, highlighting potential problems and many usability issues and ensuring websites meet W3C code standards. Try to use more than one HTML validator or spider simulator because each one tests, highlights, and reports on slightly different aspects of your website.

SEO is not an appropriate strategy for every website, and other Internet marketing strategies can be more effective like paid advertising through pay per click (PPC) campaigns, depending on the site operator's goals. Search engine marketing (SEM), is practice of designing, running, and optimizing search engine ad campaigns.[55] Its difference from SEO is most simply depicted as the difference between paid and unpaid priority ranking in search results. Its purpose regards prominence more so than relevance; website developers should regard SEM with the utmost importance with consideration to PageRank visibility as most navigate to the primary listings of their search.[56] A successful Internet marketing campaign may also depend upon building high quality web pages to engage and persuade, setting up analytics programs to enable site owners to measure results, and improving a site's conversion rate.[57] In November 2015, Google released a full 160 page version of its Search Quality Rating Guidelines to the public,[58] which now shows a shift in their focus towards "usefulness" and mobile search. In recent years the mobile market has exploded, overtaking the use of desktops as shown in by StatCounter in October 2016 where they analysed 2.5 million websites and 51.3% of the pages were loaded by a mobile device [59]. Google has been one of the companies that have utilised the popularity of mobile usage by encouraging websites to use their Google Search Console, the Mobile-Friendly Test, which allows companies to measure up their website to the search engine results and how user-friendly it is.
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.
We're also going to have to both educate small businesses about how to optimize their GMB listings as well as why it's important and smart agencies will have to expand their GMB local listings services to include pakages that include optimizations, and monitoring of clients' GMB listings. I think the more areas of online marketing an agency that serves the small business and local business markets can have service offerings in and branded, proprietary products that help those small and local businesses compete with the larger companies, the more successful they'll be.
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.
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.
Rand, by all these gated searches and search cards etc are google effectively taking our homework ( in this case in the form of webpages / content), scribbling out our name and claiming it for their own? And then stopping users getting to the actual page? and if they are planning on removing organic traffic would they not suffer with regards to their ad revenue? Or is all this tailored for "ok google" and providing a more friendly search result for voice commands etc? Love Whiteboard Friday BTW, James, UK
The response rate here was huge because this is a mutually beneficial relationship. The bloggers get free products to use within their outfits (as well as more clothes for their wardrobe!) and I was able to drive traffic through to my site, get high-quality backlinks, a load of social media engagement and some high-end photography to use within my own content and on product pages.
Paid search advertising focuses on investing in the right types of ads to achieve prominent positions on search engine results pages and drive traffic to the site. Well optimized search ads can sometimes achieve higher positions than organic search results, while others might be displayed on the right side of the browser page. The success of paid search campaign rests on targeting the right keywords and selecting optimal advertising channels.
Use Facebook Insights to gain a better understanding of your Facebook fans. You can then target specific messages to meet the specific needs of subsets of your audience. For example, if you’re selling clothes and have written an article on the latest fashion trends for women, you can target your post to appear in the news feeds of women who have expressed an interest in clothes. Targeting options include Gender, Relationship Status, Location and Interests, etc. To target your Facebook post, simply click the targeting icon at the end of your post before you click Publish.
Social media changes so quickly that it can be difficult to keep up with terminology and best practices. One of the biggest points of confusion that I see with business owners and marketers is the distinction and strategic balance between organic and paid social media. Understanding this is essential to creating a successful social media marketing strategy.  Organic and paid social media have distinct advantages but work best when implemented together. Every popular social media outlet has paid and organic elements, but since Facebook is the largest social network (both in terms of users and advertisers) I’m going to focus on that platform in this article.
If we can do that effectively, it is in the best interest of the search engine to serve our content to our target audience for us, providing highly targeted visitors to our pages at no incremental cost. This is the secret to the organic channel, and why organic search listings are so valuable. Other channels often come with additional cost for each new visitor provided.
Black hat SEO refers to the practice of trying to trick the search engines into giving you higher rankings by using unethical tactics, such as buying links. The risk is just too great. Even if you enjoy a temporary boost in rankings due to black hat tactics, it’s likely to be short lived. Google is getting better and better at spotting dirty tricks and sooner or later the progress you made will be wiped out by an algorithm update, or worse, your site will get removed from the index altogether.
Everyone wants to rank for those broad two or three word key phrases because they tend to have high search volumes. The problem with these broad key phrases is they are highly competitive. So competitive that you may not stand a chance of ranking for them unless you devote months of your time to it. Instead of spending your time going after something that may not even be attainable, go after the low-hanging fruit of long-tail key phrases.
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]
It is important to target keywords that your target consumer is likely to search for while looking for the product or service that you offer. For example, if you are an accounting firm located in Miami you would not want to target a general keyword such as “accounting firm.” Not only is it a very difficult keyword, but also you will be attracting visitors from all over the globe. Instead, you would want to target a more precise keyword such as “accounting firm in Miami” or “Miami accounting firm.”
Most organic sales (93 percent) take place through conventional and natural food supermarkets and chains, according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA). OTA estimates the remaining 7 percent of U.S. organic food sales occur through farmers' markets, foodservice, and marketing channels other than retail stores. One of the most striking differences between conventional and organic food marketing is the use of direct markets—Cornell University estimates that only about 1.6 percent of U.S. fresh produce sales are through direct sales. The number of farmers' markets in the United States has grown steadily from 1,755 markets in 1994, when USDA began to track them, to over 8,144 in 2013. Participating farmers are responding to heightened demand for locally grown organic product. A USDA survey of market managers. ERS research found that demand for organic products was strong or moderate in most of the farmers' markets surveyed around the country, and that managers felt more organic farmers were needed to meet consumer demand in many States. See the ERS report for more on this topic:
Search engine marketing is the practice of marketing a business using paid advertisements that appear on search engine results pages (or SERPs). Advertisers bid on keywords that users of services such as Google and Bing might enter when looking for certain products or services, which gives the advertiser the opportunity for their ads to appear alongside results for those search queries.
If you were to ask someone what the difference is between direct and organic website traffic, they would probably be able to warrant a good guess, purely based on the terms’ wording. They might tell you that direct traffic comes from going straight into a website by entering its URL into a browser or clicking a bookmark, while organic traffic comes from finding the site somewhere else, like through a search engine.
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.

Keyword research and analysis involves three "steps": ensuring the site can be indexed in the search engines, finding the most relevant and popular keywords for the site and its products, and using those keywords on the site in a way that will generate and convert traffic. A follow-on effect of keyword analysis and research is the search perception impact.[13] Search perception impact describes the identified impact of a brand's search results on consumer perception, including title and meta tags, site indexing, and keyword focus. As online searching is often the first step for potential consumers/customers, the search perception impact shapes the brand impression for each individual.
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.

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.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Maximizes search result exposure by targeting and driving Web traffic and ultimately delivering increased sales. The majority of search engine page results come from unpaid or organic search. SEO optimizes websites to ensure top search engine placement, such as Google, as only 15 percent of searchers continue beyond page one.

To find the right people I downloaded a list of some of the most popular users within the community. To do this, I used Screaming Frog SEO Spider to gather a list of all the URLs on the website. I then exported this list into an Excel spreadsheet and filtered the URLs to only show those that were user profile pages. I could do this because all of the profile pages had /user/ within the URL.
By 2014, people were seeing approximately 5,000 advertisements every day, according to statistics from the Content Marketing Institute. Faced with that kind of competition for an audience’s attention, there are two common approaches: paid marketing and organic marketing. Paid marketing involves assigning a budget to your advertising campaign and paying various platforms for the promotion.
The monthly volume of searches entered on keywords can be found with a few different methods. If you have a Google AdWords account, you can use Keyword Planner for this step. If you don’t, there are a few free sites out there that will give you similar numbers. Obviously, if a keyword has higher monthly searches you’ll want to keep it in mind. However, that also might mean that it has a higher keyword difficulty, and fiercer competition.
When you’re trying to drive traffic to your website, it’s crucial that you get only relevant people to see your listing. Or else there’s no use getting a ton of visitors. When you’re doing SEO, you may or may not get the right people to visit your website. But it’s not the same with PPC ads. Your ads are laser targeted towards users who are actually searching for your product or service.

In December 2009, Google announced it would be using the web search history of all its users in order to populate search results.[32] On June 8, 2010 a new web indexing system called Google Caffeine was announced. Designed to allow users to find news results, forum posts and other content much sooner after publishing than before, Google caffeine was a change to the way Google updated its index in order to make things show up quicker on Google than before. According to Carrie Grimes, the software engineer who announced Caffeine for Google, "Caffeine provides 50 percent fresher results for web searches than our last index..."[33] Google Instant, real-time-search, was introduced in late 2010 in an attempt to make search results more timely and relevant. Historically site administrators have spent months or even years optimizing a website to increase search rankings. With the growth in popularity of social media sites and blogs the leading engines made changes to their algorithms to allow fresh content to rank quickly within the search results.[34]
Publishing quality content on a regular basis can help you attract targeted organic search traffic. But creating great content that gets ranked higher in the search engines isn’t easy. If your business doesn’t have the necessary resources, developing strong content assets can prove to be a challenge. Which affects your ability to have a working content strategy.
Google is a king. What best Google has done, kept all the bloggers life in a big web. Try to become as independent/different as you can, which Google might not have heard. It can be either name, brand, activity, etc...People focus on that things which they have never heard. It's unique way to come up in SERP's. We are used to EverydayHealth, EverydayLife, gets bored. Make sure people have reasons to return to YOUR site as often as possible.

In the end of the day it depends on the size of the website you are working with and how well known the brand is in the market. You can adapt some of the strategies listed above in the post on scale and it can have a highly positive impact on a web property, the property in question is a real content house so any thing is possible. What else do you suggest we should do I will advise you if it has been done already?

Facebook Ads and other social media ad platforms, for example, are pay-per-click platforms that do not fall under the SEM category. Instead of showing your ads to people who are searching for similar content like search ads do, social media sites introduce your product to people who happen to be just browsing through their feeds. These are two very, very different types of online advertising.
The Google, Yahoo!, and Bing search engines insert advertising on their search results pages. The ads are designed to look similar to the search results, though different enough for readers to distinguish between ads and actual results. This is done with various differences in background, text, link colors, and/or placement on the page. However, the appearance of ads on all major search engines is so similar to genuine search results that a majority of search engine users cannot effectively distinguish between the two.[1]
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