So if you're in the local space and you're saying, "Gosh, Google has really taken away the ability for my website to get the clicks that it used to get from Google local searches," going into Google My Business and optimizing to provide information such that people who perform that query will be satisfied by Google's result, yes, they won't get to your website, but they will still come to your business, because you've optimized the content such that Google is showing, through Google My Business, such that those searchers want to engage with you. I think this sometimes gets lost in the SEO battle. We're trying so hard to earn the click to our site that we're forgetting that a lot of search experience ends right at the SERP itself, and we can optimize there too.

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 
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.

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.
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.
Lynn, it is so true that just talking about a brand in a blog post gets you noticed. I did a blog post a few years ago on a toy and mentioned that is was on the Parenting Magazine top 10 list. I did not link to the magazine, I just mentioned it and they sent me a free one year subscription to their magazine, and a whole box of coloring books for my kids. It wasn't monetary, but at least the company acknowledge that I referenced them.

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.
Google is currently been inundated with reconsideration requests from webmasters all over the world. On public holidays the Search Quality teams do not look at reconsideration requests. See below analysis. From my experience it can take anywhere from 15-30+ days for Google to respond to reconsideration requests; during peak periods it can even take longer.
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. 
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.
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.
The stats tell the truth: the top ad spot gets about 2% of clicks (CTR) on average, whereas the top organic spot gets about 20 times that, 40%. Why? Because people trust it more. They trust the Google brand to deliver the most relevant results to their search query. Anyone paying for an ad might be perceived as just trying to hijack that process for a quick buck. It generally takes 3 months to earn the top organic spot with Google (there are exceptions to this), whereas it takes around 3 minutes to place an ad to get the top spot. Society values those who have earned their way to the top in any field, rather than bought their way.
You can also use organic to increase audience engagement with your content. For example, let’s say you’re a ticketing website for sporting events and you know that some of your followers are rugby fanatics. If you have a new blog interviewing Dylan Hartley (current England captain), then it makes sense to personally contact them (or at least key influencers) via their preferred social network and tell them about the blog, and ask them to comment/share. It’s personal and increases the chance they’ll see/read your content.

With stats like that, you’re probably wondering why you should even bother with organic posts. Although organic reach is low, it’s still important to have an active, consistent presence on social media. Your Facebook page, Instagram account, Twitter profile, etc. are often where people turn to for updates from your company or to ask questions. Low organic reach doesn’t mean you should stop posting organically all together—it means you should focus more of your efforts on a paid social media strategy while maintaining a solid organic strategy.


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?
Second thing, optimizing across additional platforms. So we've looked and YouTube and Google Images account for about half of the overall volume that goes to Google web search. So between these two platforms, you've got a significant amount of additional traffic that you can optimize for. Images has actually gotten less aggressive. Right now they've taken away the "view image directly" link so that more people are visiting websites via Google Images. YouTube, obviously, this is a great place to build brand affinity, to build awareness, to create demand, this kind of demand generation to get your content in front of people. So these two are great platforms for that.
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.
To sum up all of this information, even organic traffic, like direct traffic, has some gray areas. For the most part, though, organic traffic is driven by SEO. The better you are ranking for competitive keywords, the more organic traffic will result. Websites that consistently create content optimized for search will see a steady increase in organic search traffic and improved positioning in the search results. As a marketer, it is important to look at your keywords and high-ranking pages to identify new SEO opportunities each month.  
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