The piece on generating demand for branded queries rather than just product-based ones is particularly interesting here. It sounds as though it'll be more important than ever to have a strong brand in order to succeed (rather than just having a well-optimized site -- and ideally, having the strategic, technical, and creative sides all working together cohesively). Perhaps it's possible that brand exposure through things like answer boxes can still deliver some value too, even if it's difficult to measure, and CTRs are diminished? 

Make sure you have some good analytics software installed on your website. You will want to know where your traffic is coming from. Is it coming from social media, referrals, search engine queries, or is it direct traffic? It will also help you determine where people are getting lost, or dropping out of the funnel. It can also help you determine what approaches, content, and CTAs are the most effective.
Search engines may penalize sites they discover using black hat methods, either by reducing their rankings or eliminating their listings from their databases altogether. Such penalties can be applied either automatically by the search engines' algorithms, or by a manual site review. One example was the February 2006 Google removal of both BMW Germany and Ricoh Germany for use of deceptive practices.[53] Both companies, however, quickly apologized, fixed the offending pages, and were restored to Google's list.[54]
While network marketing companies financially incentivize their distributors to sell their products, just like in affiliate marketing, it’s not just the money that motivates word of mouth and it’s not money alone that will make the sale. It’s got to be a game-changing or life-changing product or service to give people something talk about with positive emotions like excitement and enthusiasm, so that the people they talk to want to be a part of it (and fear being left out). If people believe the company has a lousy product and compensation plan, then people won’t feel motivated to talk about it or have persuasive reasons to tell others to buy into it as well. If people don’t believe in the person or company selling it, the seller won’t generate any sales. This is why brands can charge more and generate billions in value, like these top 10 most valuable brands in the world:

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]
I have always believed in good quality content, well structured and written in a way that isn’t just about promotional talk. Thanks for sharing this information with us, it’s always helpful to have everything written in a concise manner so we can remind ourselves now and again of what it takes to increase organic traffic. As an SEO consultant myself I come across websites all the time that are messy and still using tactics that have long been out of date. Having a successful website is all about quality content and links. I like it that you stated what the problem was and then how you fixed it for the client. Great article.
I think it has become harder and harder for smaller brands to really stand out in any kind of search. This is especially true with small brands who face lots of competition form other small brands in large cities. How does one build name recognition in NYC as an acupuncturists when any given building may house 3 or 4 practitioners with the same address. Then these small businesses are facing the Google Possum filter. And in some cases brands without websites are showing up in the three pack over highly optimized websites.
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.
The advantage of paid search is that you can have your website listed on the first pages in a prominent spot on Google and other search engines. However, showing up is only part of the process. You need to create an ad that not only leads to clicks, but to sales or whatever result you're looking for. If you don't know what you're doing, it's possible to write an ad that people are drawn to and click on, however, you don't make sales. Since you pay per click, and clicks can add up quickly, you can lose money.
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.
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.
Paid inclusion is a search engine marketing method in itself, but also a tool of search engine optimization, since experts and firms can test out different approaches to improving ranking and see the results often within a couple of days, instead of waiting weeks or months. Knowledge gained this way can be used to optimize other web pages, without paying the search engine company.
Many page owners think that organic reach (the number of unique individuals who see your post pop up in their news feeds) is enough to make an impact. This was true in the first few years of Facebook but is no longer the case. Facebook, and many other social media networks is truly a pay-to-play network. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are all on algorithmic feeds, meaning posts are shown to the user based on past behavior and preferences instead of in chronological order. Organic posts from your Facebook page only reach about 2% of your followers, and that number is dropping. Facebook recently announced that, in order to correct a past metrics error, it is changing the way it reports viewable impressions, and organic reach will be 20% lower on average when this change takes effect.
Black hat SEO attempts to improve rankings in ways that are disapproved of by the search engines, or involve deception. One black hat technique uses text that is hidden, either as text colored similar to the background, in an invisible div, or positioned off screen. Another method gives a different page depending on whether the page is being requested by a human visitor or a search engine, a technique known as cloaking. Another category sometimes used is grey hat SEO. This is in between black hat and white hat approaches, where the methods employed avoid the site being penalized, but do not act in producing the best content for users. Grey hat SEO is entirely focused on improving search engine rankings.
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.
Many people also search specifically for services within their area. Utilizing keywords such as “wedding photography Atlanta” instead of just “wedding photography” can help you face local competition better. Setting up a Google My Business page is also a tool that will help your business pop up in localized searches. It’s free to set up, and requires a physical address for your business.
Another ethical controversy associated with search marketing has been the issue of trademark infringement. The debate as to whether third parties should have the right to bid on their competitors' brand names has been underway for years. In 2009 Google changed their policy, which formerly prohibited these tactics, allowing 3rd parties to bid on branded terms as long as their landing page in fact provides information on the trademarked term.[27] Though the policy has been changed this continues to be a source of heated debate.[28]

Nice post. I was wondering if all this content of your strategy was been writien in blog of the site, or if you added to content in some other specific parts of the sites. I don't believe 100% in the strategy of reomoving links. If Google just penalize you taking into account your inbound likes, It would be so easy to attack your competitors just by buying dirty link packages targeting to their sites.
While you are updating your website’s copy, you’ll also want to implement changes in your HTML – specifically, in your H1 and H2 title tags, as well as your meta descriptions and URLs. You’ll want to put your most relevant keywords in these sections of your website HTML. Search engines take into account the words in these sections of your website’s HTML when listing out relevant webpages in a search result.
The Budget: The average lifetime value of a customer is $450. You know that the average purchase is $35. The business makes 20% profit on all sales. Most returning customers buy once a month. Your current monthly sales are $16,000 with a slight increase when seasons change. A steady increase in sales over six months to a 15% increase by month six would mean a total sales increase of $8,400 over the six months and a total lifetime value of around $30,900. Spending $3,000 on the six-month organic marketing campaign would see a return on investment of 106%. The advantage of organic marketing is that it keeps working even after the campaign has ended. This means that the ROI would actually be higher.
Black hat SEO attempts to improve rankings in ways that are disapproved of by the search engines, or involve deception. One black hat technique uses text that is hidden, either as text colored similar to the background, in an invisible div, or positioned off screen. Another method gives a different page depending on whether the page is being requested by a human visitor or a search engine, a technique known as cloaking. Another category sometimes used is grey hat SEO. This is in between black hat and white hat approaches, where the methods employed avoid the site being penalized, but do not act in producing the best content for users. Grey hat SEO is entirely focused on improving search engine rankings.

At the retail level, the two top organic food sales categories, receive significant price premiums over conventionally grown products. ERS also analyzed organic prices for 18 fruits and 19 vegetables using 2005 data on produce purchases, and found that the organic premium as a share of the corresponding conventional price was less than 30 percent for over two-thirds of the items. The premium for only one item—blueberries—exceeded 100 percent. In contrast, in 2006, organic price premiums for a half-gallon container of milk ranged from 60 percent for private-label organic milk above branded conventional milk to 109 percent for branded organic milk above private-label conventional milk. See the ERS report for more on this topic:
I am too much late to commenting on this article. I want to read "How much get Organic traffic by SEO", found your your article on top & really very interesting. James Norquay, you did good research.I think Now days google block mostly SEO activities. Is this worthy for current marketing scnerio?If any other post to related strategy for increasing Organic traffic, you can reffer me.

SEO may generate an adequate return on investment. However, search engines are not paid for organic search traffic, their algorithms change, and there are no guarantees of continued referrals. Due to this lack of guarantees and certainty, a business that relies heavily on search engine traffic can suffer major losses if the search engines stop sending visitors.[60] Search engines can change their algorithms, impacting a website's placement, possibly resulting in a serious loss of traffic. According to Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, in 2010, Google made over 500 algorithm changes – almost 1.5 per day.[61] It is considered wise business practice for website operators to liberate themselves from dependence on search engine traffic.[62] In addition to accessibility in terms of web crawlers (addressed above), user web accessibility has become increasingly important for SEO.
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
Additionally, knowing how your SEO is performing can help you make the necessary changes over time to keep your rankings high. Look around for a keyword tracking tool to help you track how your SEO is performing. It’s typical for your ranking to fluctuate from week to week and even day to day. Look for a general upward trend from month to month that shows that your efforts are successful.

The typical Web user might not realize they’re looking at apples and oranges when they get their search results. Knowing the difference enables a searcher to make a better informed decision about the relevancy of a result. Additionally, because the paid results are advertising, they may actually be more useful to a shopping searcher than a researcher (as search engines favor research results).
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