Small business owners sometimes think that search engine marketing (SEM), also known as pay-per-click advertising (PPC), is not lucrative option for them. They may think they can’t afford it, or that their online presence is not important if they are a local or service-based business. The truth is, as search engines have undeniably become a part of our lifestyles as consumers, there are many ways to leverage them for businesses of any size. This post will introduce you to the basics and benefits of search engine marketing (SEM).

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 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.
If both page are closely related (lots of topical overlap), I would merge the unique content from the lower ranking article into the top ranking one, then 301 redirect the lower performing article into the top ranking one. This will make the canonical version more relevant, and give it an immediate authority boost. I would also fetch it right away, do some link building, and possibly a little paid promotion to seed some engagement. Update the time stamp.
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.
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Fresh fruits and vegetables have been the top selling category of organically grown food since the organic food industry started retailing products over 3 decades ago, and they are still outselling other food categories, according to the Nutrition Business Journal. Produce accounted for 43 percent of U.S. organic food sales in 2012, followed by dairy (15 percent), packaged/prepared foods (11 percent), beverages (11 percent), bread/grains (9 percent), snack foods (5 percent), meat/fish/poultry (3 percent), and condiments (3 percent).

Search engine marketing encompasses a range of activities all centred around making your website more visible when someone uses a search engine. If someone is looking for your business on the internet, it is vital your website appears prominently in the search engines’ results pages, or it will never deliver the value to your business that today’s economy demands.
I would also advise to continue doing what works. If something you have rolled out generates great traffic and links bring out a new version of the content, for example the 2012 version worked effectively bring out the 2013 version of the content. Another effective strategy is to make the piece of content into an evergreen article which you add to over time so it is always up to date.
Organic search is a method businesses use when they want to rank high on a search engine’s results page without having to invest in an ad campaign. Usually, this method involves using optimization practices on web pages and blogs and linking strategies, and conducting industry keyword searches that search engines view as valuable. Search algorithms are not entirely known, but marketing experts carefully study results to gather insight into how Google and other search engines rank pages. Some of the organic search engine optimization practices also include using relevant keywords on a page title, regularly posting optimized-blog articles to your site, and engaging with customers on social media platforms. This process takes time. The more you post and optimize your pages, the higher your results, as search engines see your content as relevant and trustworthy.
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.

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.
PPC gives you the ability to fix your daily budget depending on how much you’re willing to spend. And since you can start off with a small amount, you don’t have to put a heavy investment at stake before testing the waters. Once you know a certain campaign is giving you a good return on investment, you can ramp up your budget and increase your ad spendings without worrying about incurring losses.
As a SEO analyst the fact that recent changes Google has made has made it hard for websites to rank scares me a bit but on a second thought I see a lot of opportunity here for growth. Because as SEO gets more challenging true meaningful strategies are now needed to optimize a site rather than just link building and basic on page. SEOrs really need to understand the nature of a client’s business, work on their buyer’s persona & understand their clients Goals. I am a big fan of Point #2 & #3 you highlighted under potential solutions. Local businesses (LB) really need to setup up and take full advantage of Google My Business (unfortunately I don’t see many LBs doing that). With point #1 i.e. demand generation, I am bit confused about how that strategy will unfold for small businesses. This would mean a lot more investment from their end on building their brand equity and brand awareness, but some businesses don’t really have that kind of funding. I mean yes, they can implement aggressive social media strategies and take advantage of GMB but that will still be very challenging I feel. Maybe a bit more information on how we can generate demand for small businesses be helpful!
However, you can use paid campaigns to reinforce core messages that you’ve shared via organic posts. For example, if the company has been involved in a public crisis (think Volkswagen and the emissions crisis), then information you’ve provided to people who have contacted you can be used as part of a wider educational marketing program with paid ads to extend the message reach.
Click through rate: Except for high purchase intent searches, users will click on paid search listings at a lower rate than organic search listings. Organic listings have more credibility with search engine users. In one UK study, published by Econsultancy, only 6% of clicks were the result of paid listings. In another study, it was 10%. The important thing to remember is that click through rate varies by purchase intent. Organic rankings will get more click through rates for “top of funnel” keyword search queries.
Well as noted in the post it is not just above the links that was only one key part of a wider strategy. This website in question has deep levels of content. So it is not just about a blog section, they have numerous high quality content sections we have developed over time. It would not be advisable ever to attack competitors sites with low quality links.
For example, we have seen retailers who produce seasonal items, such as ornaments, based upon data that they are able to find through the Data Cube. This information tells them about the themes and ideas that are popular throughout the year and during their peak selling seasons, helping them to know which items will be the most successful and the optimal names to select.
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:

Why? It allows you track visits on a specific web page. Whatever page that newly acquired customers land on after the sale, this will be your “Destination.” You can add the URL of that page in the “Goal details” section. There are other optional details that you could include. For example, you can assign a monetary value to a newly acquired customer. You can also map the journey that customers take up until they convert. At the very least, configure the first option. You need that hard dollar value to calculate ROI.
Web search is one of the most powerful tools we have today. Just like you, people from all walks of life use Google to find solutions, learn new things and understand the world around. One of those new things may be determining whether SEO vs SEM is best for your business. Whether you’re an online business or a local business, chances are that people are actively looking for you.
I still believe that Facebook and Google are great platforms to promote your business, but only if you are willing to pay. If your goal is Organic growth, I recommend looking at newer platforms such as Quora, Reddit, Snapchat, Medium, Instagram, Tumblr and similar. These are all established platforms that still offer some opportunities for organic reach, because although popular, they are nowhere near the saturation levels of Facebook and Google. You can also look at startups that you feel will become very successful in the future, take a small gamble perhaps and try to establish a strong presence there.
Creating the link between SEO and PPC represents an integral part of the SEM concept. Sometimes, especially when separate teams work on SEO and PPC and the efforts are not synced, positive results of aligning their strategies can be lost. The aim of both SEO and PPC is maximizing the visibility in search and thus, their actions to achieve it should be centrally coordinated. Both teams can benefit from setting shared goals and combined metrics, evaluating data together to determine future strategy or discuss which of the tools works better to get the traffic for selected keywords in the national and local search results. Thanks to this, the search visibility can be increased along with optimizing both conversions and costs.[21]

Essentially, what distinguishes direct from organic traffic today is tracking. According to Business2Community, direct traffic is composed of website visits which have “no referring source or tracking information.” A referring source can be a search engine, or it can be a link from another website. Direct traffic can include visits that result from typing the URL directly into a browser, as the simple definition suggests.


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.
Another way search engine marketing is managed is by contextual advertising. Here marketers place ads on other sites or portals that carry information relevant to their products so that the ads jump into the circle of vision of browsers who are seeking information from those sites. A successful SEM plan is the approach to capture the relationships amongst information searchers, businesses, and search engines. Search engines were not important to some industries in the past, but over the past years the use of search engines for accessing information has become vital to increase business opportunities.[31] The use of SEM strategic tools for businesses such as tourism can attract potential consumers to view their products, but it could also pose various challenges.[32] These challenges could be the competition that companies face amongst their industry and other sources of information that could draw the attention of online consumers.[31] To assist the combat of challenges, the main objective for businesses applying SEM is to improve and maintain their ranking as high as possible on SERPs so that they can gain visibility. Therefore, search engines are adjusting and developing algorithms and the shifting criteria by which web pages are ranked sequentially to combat against search engine misuse and spamming, and to supply the most relevant information to searchers.[31] This could enhance the relationship amongst information searchers, businesses, and search engines by understanding the strategies of marketing to attract business.

Even though we think about it all the time, we usually take a “sit back and wait” approach to traffic. After all, you can’t force anyone to visit your website. But it’s not as simple as “if you build it, they will come.” And you need more traffic, and greater search engine visibility, if you want to get anywhere with your website and your business.
In 2014, Cisco stated that video made 64% of all internet traffic. In 2015, Searchmetrics was releasing a white paper quoting that 55% of all keyword searches in the U.S. return at least one video blended into Google’s web search results and that 8 out 10 of those videos belonged to YouTube. And in 2016, Cisco was also sharing that online videos will account for more than 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2020.

While SEO seems to be the perfect plan for building your brand, one of the setbacks of this strategy is that it works in a slow-paced manner, and you might just be overwhelmed. Most keywords are usually already dominated by bigger brands. So if you are just starting up and are targeting to compete with other big brands, SEO services for small businesses like you might not be the perfect fit.

Search engine advertising (SEA) is an efficient and affordable online marketing strategy that helps your company website enjoy greater visibility by advertising on Google using varying methods. We differentiate between Google Ads, which are paid advertising, and the organic search results, whose ranking is determined only by the search algorithm. When you advertise on Google, text is displayed above, next to, or under the search results if it suits the search query, and is identified through the "ad" label. Aside from this, there is little difference between them and the snippets (text extracts from websites) in the middle. Ads on google are free initially; the clicks that the advert generates are billed. The price per click depends on your budget and how accurately your website is suited to the search query. As Google is by far the most used search engine in the US, search engine advertisement here is among the most profitable. AdWords is a program that Google uses to sell its adverts worldwide. With our tool you can invest in Google-AdWords campaigns in just a few clicks. The 1&1 experts can give you advice on finding the Google advertising plan that's right for your budget and takes into account the right keywords. With the right strategy for search engine adverts, you can then directly and efficiently target potential clients.
In March 2006, KinderStart filed a lawsuit against Google over search engine rankings. KinderStart's website was removed from Google's index prior to the lawsuit and the amount of traffic to the site dropped by 70%. On March 16, 2007 the United States District Court for the Northern District of California (San Jose Division) dismissed KinderStart's complaint without leave to amend, and partially granted Google's motion for Rule 11 sanctions against KinderStart's attorney, requiring him to pay part of Google's legal expenses.[69][70]
I would also advise to continue doing what works. If something you have rolled out generates great traffic and links bring out a new version of the content, for example the 2012 version worked effectively bring out the 2013 version of the content. Another effective strategy is to make the piece of content into an evergreen article which you add to over time so it is always up to date.
With Bing Ads, your accounts are free to set up and billing is flexible. You choose between a prepay or postpay option, as well as various payment methods. If you are uncertain about anything, there is free help to answer your questions before activating your campaigns. You can also pause campaigns at any time. Remember, you’re not billed until someone clicks your ad.
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
While SEO doesn’t guarantee that you will keep receiving traffic on autopilot for a long time, it does give you the peace of mind that doesn’t come with PPC marketing. Once you rank for a particular keyword, you can keep doing the needed on-page SEO to maintain your rank. By being more sustainable, SEO can help you dominate a market segment without burning a hole in the wallet.
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.
Well, yes and no. Sure, you can get hit with an algorithm change or penalty that destroys all your traffic. However, if you have good people who know what they are doing, this is not likely to happen, and if it does, it is easy (in most cases) to get your visits back. Panda and Penguin are another story, but if you get hit by those it is typically not accidental.
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