On April 24, 2012 many started to see that Google has started to penalize companies that are buying links for the purpose of passing off the rank. The Google Update was called Penguin. Since then, there have been several different Penguin/Panda updates rolled out by Google. SEM has, however, nothing to do with link buying and focuses on organic SEO and PPC management. As of October 20, 2014 Google has released three official revisions of their Penguin Update.


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.

The most common form of organic SEM is search engine optimization (SEO). SEO refers to a variety of techniques designed to help your website rank higher in search engine results. Optimizing your website involves doing a little bit of research on what keywords or phrases your customers or potential customers are searching for when they are looking for your products or services online. It then involves writing web content using those keywords in a way that is both easy for search engines to pick up but still readable and pleasant for your website visitors.
When it is time for your organization to start creating new products or enhancing items already on your product line, organic search can maximize your efficiency and gauge market demand. You will be able to see which products are sparking the most interest through increases or decreases in organic search. You can then take the information from the Data Cube and compare it to trends within your own sites and the performance of your competitors to create a product line that maximizes your investment.
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.
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.

An ideal keyword has high monthly searches and a relatively low keyword difficulty. Once you find some keywords that make sense for your business, have a relatively high search volume and a relatively low keyword difficulty, it’s time to research the competition. However, you’ll first want to understand how local searches affect organic search engine optimization.


Google is moving into more and more aggressively commercial spaces, like jobs, flights, products, all of these kinds of searches where previously there was opportunity and now there's a lot less. If you're Expedia or you're Travelocity or you're Hotels.com or you're Cheapflights and you see what's going on with flight and hotel searches in particular, Google is essentially saying, "No, no, no. Don't worry about clicking anything else. We've got the answers for you right here."
This means that each organic search visit is worth $7.35. Chances are, you’ll spend WAY less than that to generate that one visit. How’s that for some rock-solid ROI? You can get even more specific with this by looking at the organic search traffic for a particular keyword. By extension, you can calculate the ROI of that keyword. You can begin to see how this can ramp up your SEO game.

As you can see by the example above, organic marketing tactics are natural, authentic, and value-based. The benefits that businesses reap from these tactics are cultivated over longer periods of time, ultimately helping you build a brand that customers want to visit regularly. And although you’re doing less “pushing” with organic marketing, when done right you can still generate a steady stream of loyal traffic. Remember, this is about building high-value brand equity and industry authority with your customers. You’re not just attempting to drive sales here; you’re working hard to engage and educate your target audiences.  


Check out the average CPC for some top industries. These are the costs of one click. Mind you, that’s a click that is not guaranteed to convert a customer. With paid campaigns, you have to keep optimizing and testing the ad creative to lower your CPC and increase your CTR. You can imagine that it takes a massive budget to even set a paid campaign in motion. And it requires just as much to keep maintaining it.
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.
You could get even more specific by narrowing it down to customer base. Is there a specific group of clients you tend to serve? Try including that in your long-tail key phrase. For example: “SEO agency for non-profits in Albuquerque NM.” That’s a key phrase you’re a lot more likely to rank for. Not to mention it will also attract way more targeted, organic traffic than a broad key phrase like “SEO agency.”

For example, you may repurpose your blog content into a different form to satisfy the needs of your social media audience. You may decide to put more resources into email marketing as a traffic driver. You may tighten up your brand story because you want your messaging to be more congruent across all customer touchpoints. All these marketing tasks are tied to organic traffic. And they all have a substantial impact on your bottom line.


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.
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.
Hi Lynn, WOW another well written and informative post. I only use PPC to make sure my copy converts, otherwise I use organic traffic only. I have printed off this post and will have by my computer, as another tool to read everyday to make sure I am keeping on track. You are 1 of 3 people I keep subscribed to, because you help, you keep me motivated, you tell it like it is. You give great content, which is a lesson for us all to remember, it is OK to drive traffic to your site, but if you do not have what the seeker wants, then they leave, giving you a horrendous bounce rate and no conversions.
Guest blogging purely for inbound links is a flawed strategy because the value of those links are going down. However, guest blogging for traffic is still an incredibly viable strategy. While that inbound link you get at the end of a guest post doesn’t have as much SEO value as it used to, it still has the value of exposing your content to a new audience.
According to a Google study, paid search ads with an accompanying organic search result only occur 19% of the time, on average. Nine percent of the time a search ad shows with an organic ad in the top rank. What is surprising to many of us is the growth in incremental clicks when they appear together. Even the first organic ranking can benefit from an accompanying ad. Google’s results showed that 50% of ad clicks did not replace the clicks on the first organic search listing when the ads didn’t appear. The study found that 82% of ad clicks are incremental when the associated organic result is ranked between 2 and 4, and 96% of clicks are incremental when the brand’s organic result was 5 or below.
Organic content marketing, on the other hand, finds ways to make customers look for you naturally. In effect, it means using any type of marketing method that doesn’t require a direct payment. But, there are still costs involved. These include paying for content creation and the time spent monitoring the campaign and responding to customers. This type of inbound marketing involves providing valuable content that customers need. Then, supporting it with a constant, online presence (often through social media).

Great topic Rand! I have found that being well-versed in PPC and Content Marketing have not only helped my expertise grow as an SEO, but are also great options to fall back on when offering solutions to clients, depending on the SEO opportunity available. It will be interesting to see if Organic Search Traffic will continue to drop or bounce back overall though. Solids tips and insight, and glad to see you back for a WBF!


Earlier I touched on using ultimate guides to shift the awareness of the reader to facilitate a conversion. That’s a solid example. Your content can serve any number of goals including sales, lead generation, etc. You could even use it to warm up a cold audience before you expose them to a paid campaign. It can lower your ad costs and increase your click-through rates. The utility of content is endless. You decide.
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).
A good call to action has a clear message and action. It should move people in the direction of purchasing. On a blog post, a good CTA may point people to more in-depth content like an e-book. It can also point people to your products and services. However, the in-depth content is more effective. You can then pitch your product or service using the in-depth content.
Step #3: Calculate your ROI based on the right performance indicators The performance indicators will depend on the objective you selected in the first step. Want to generate leads? You could track your new subscribers. Want to increase engagement? You could track clicks, comments, shares, etc. Let’s go with the first example: Your goal is customer acquisition. You’ve already set up tracking for sales conversions. It’s time to dissect your organic search traffic.
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.

Using the insight from the Data Cube can serve your blog content creation process in two ways. To begin, you will be able to create posts that align themselves well with what people seek online. This will increase the traffic to your page and help you to boost engagement. Secondly, since you are maintaining a steady stream of high-value posts that are tailored to the interests of your target audience, you will have a far easier time building consistent readership and encouraging people to move through the sales funnel.
In 1998, two graduate students at Stanford University, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, developed "Backrub", a search engine that relied on a mathematical algorithm to rate the prominence of web pages. The number calculated by the algorithm, PageRank, is a function of the quantity and strength of inbound links.[21] PageRank estimates the likelihood that a given page will be reached by a web user who randomly surfs the web, and follows links from one page to another. In effect, this means that some links are stronger than others, as a higher PageRank page is more likely to be reached by the random web surfer.
The first step that I take is to do a quick Google search to find pages on my domain where I've mentioned the keyword in question so that I can add an internal link. To do this, I'll use the following search query, replacing DOMAIN with your domain name (e.g. matthewbarby.com) and KEYWORD with the keyword you're targeting (e.g. "social media strategy"):
Audience insight.  The better you know your customers’ pain points, the more tailored your offers will be. The more you’re connected with how they feel, the more succinct and impactful your messaging will be. I can’t think of one aspect of marketing that isn’t strengthened by that depth of audience research.What does organic traffic have to do with it?  When you dissect your traffic, here’s what happens.
Paid search advertising costs money, which at first may seem like a disadvantage, but these costs can easily be managed. With cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) campaigns, you spend as much or as little as you want. You can adjust your campaign budget at anytime, so if your business is going well, you can spend a little extra to drive traffic to your website and catch the attention of new customers.
Traffic data is a great way to take the temperature of your website and marketing initiatives. When you are writing and promoting blog content on a regular basis, you can use traffic data to track results and correlate these efforts to actual ROI. Be sure to look at traffic numbers over long-term intervals to see trends and report on improvement over time.  
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