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.
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.
The second is to really avoid promoting yourself, or your services, or your business, in these groups when you first join them. Like with any social network, you really need to build trust. And the best way to do that is to simply engage with the content that’s already there. Start replying and making genuine comments about the content being posted by people that could be prospects for you.
Conversely, if your business is in a tight spot, you can decrease your budget or stop spending altogether. You can also specify when you advertise, so if you are having a sale this month and want to reach a larger audience, you can run a campaign focused on the sale just during this month. Or, if you offer special deals on Tuesdays, you can schedule your ads to run only on Tuesdays.

how is this good? What google is doing is atrocious. I’m not interested in what google decides is the right answer. I want to get to a website(s) and search for answers. When I look for a a local business I cannot even get to their website. There are no business phone numbers listed or hours of operations because small business do not have stafff or are not educated about latest google shanagans, time to change search engines.

To do this, I often align the launch of my content with a couple of guest posts on relevant websites to drive a load of relevant traffic to it, as well as some relevant links. This has a knock-on effect toward the organic amplification of the content and means that you at least have something to show for the content (in terms of ROI) if it doesn't do as well as you expect organically.


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?
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.

Hey, Matt! Thank you for your sharing, and I learned much from it, but I still have a question. We began to do SEO work for our site 2 years ago, and our organic traffic grew 5 times ( from 8K to 40K every day). But two years later, it is very difficult to get it grow more, even it drop to 3.2K every day. So can you give me any advice to make our site's traffic grow again? Thank you in advance!

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.
It takes skill to drive and convert traffic. If you do it yourself, it takes a significant time investment. If you outsource it, it takes a considerable monetary investment. Either way, you need resources. And you’re doing all this in a highly competitive space. Driving organic traffic is no longer just about deploying keywords. SEO is a lot more nuanced and complex than just targeting keywords. You have to consider different keyword types, the search intent of the user and the stage of awareness of your prospects. It takes time to see results.

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]
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.
The challange is for SEO's then to tell this to the clients and not worry of loosing them. What to report on then, for GMB- impressions (this should decrease because I found on the maps that the link to website isn't always there!), GMB dashboard for views (a test showed stats on the GMB dashboard are incorrect) the suggested channels social, youtube don't fall under organic traffic
Internet marketing professionals refer to search that isn’t organic as paid search. Instead of organically, or naturally, reaching the top of the search results for a particular keyword, businesses can pay to get noticed. So, paid search is a bit like doing a local endorsement, TV ad or radio spot—but for the internet. When a consumer types in a search term that you’ve incorporated into your campaign, your ad will show up at the top of search page results, above the organic results. Sometimes, your ad may appear in the sidebar. Only if the consumer clicks on your ad do you pay anything.
I'm having a problem that I suspect many marketers share. Quite simply … SEO or just buy the traffic. I noticed that you switched to SEO because you like the passive income component. But when I consider ALL the work and ongoing moving parts to SEO .. visions of the hamster on a treadmill appear in place of couch potato cash. Have you noticed that there is always something new to do … now it's Google+ ect. and "more to do" is surly on it's way. It's reached the point where it's mind numbing.
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.
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.
Your site is GOOD! Well-written, informative, authentic. You live it; you write it. You are spot-on for what your "typical reader" needs/wants. That authenticity makes a difference. Yes, I've surfed around other low-carb diet sites, but I feel like they are just "spouting" at me. Your posts are written as if we're sisters or best friends and you're talking WITH me.
Of course, there is a lot more that needs to be considered but this is a simple example of how all of these things work together. I would recommend having no less than one page for each step of the organic marketing plan if you are a small business. The larger your business the more planning that you should do. If you do not think through all the details you will miss something that will cost you.
Amber Kemmis is the VP of Client Services at SmartBug Media. Having a psychology background in the marketing world has its perks, especially with inbound marketing. My past studies in human behavior and psychology have led me to strongly believe that traditional ad marketing only turns prospects away, and advertising spend never puts the right message in front of the right person at the right time. Thus, resulting in wasted marketing efforts and investment. I'm determined to help each and every one of our clients attract and retain new customers in a delightful and helpful way that leads to sustainable revenue growth. Read more articles by Amber Kemmis.
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.
Social media is adopting its own form of SEO in a way that promotes a positive user experience. The way this algorithm works is by putting your posts in a pool as small as one percent of your followers. If those people engage with the content, then it gets introduced into a larger pool. Slowly but surely, more and more people see it, but only if it’s engaging.

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Each paid ad will likely point to a product page, a specific landing page, or something that has the potential to drive financial results. As paid marketing would suggest by its name alone, you’re spending money on ads to drive specific actions. You need to determine ROAS beyond vanity metrics alone (like engagement or total leads). Say you drove five leads but spent $5,000 on your paid campaign. Your ROAS would be $1,000 per lead, which is a bit steep (depending on your industry). In this case, you’d want to adjust your strategy to avoid wasting money.
The fee structure is both a filter against superfluous submissions and a revenue generator. Typically, the fee covers an annual subscription for one webpage, which will automatically be catalogued on a regular basis. However, some companies are experimenting with non-subscription based fee structures where purchased listings are displayed permanently. A per-click fee may also apply. Each search engine is different. Some sites allow only paid inclusion, although these have had little success. More frequently, many search engines, like Yahoo!,[18] mix paid inclusion (per-page and per-click fee) with results from web crawling. Others, like Google (and as of 2006, Ask.com[19][20]), do not let webmasters pay to be in their search engine listing (advertisements are shown separately and labeled as such).
With organic search, you don’t have to outspend your competitors to outrank them. Your competitors can’t recreate the content experience that you use to drive organic traffic.  This one is major. PPC is easy to replicate and reverse engineer. Many spy tools allow you to dissect paid campaigns to see what’s working and what’s not. You can get insight into what ad creatives generate the most clicks.

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.
This topic seems actually quite controversial. Google answered the question by what could be taken as a denial. But their answer was kind of open to interpretations. And on the other hand, there are studies (one of them from Moz) that showed linking out has an impact. So, how can you be so assertive? Is it something that comes out from your own experiments?
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.
Paid Search (PPC): Paid search results are advertisements. A business pays to have their ads displayed when users do a search containing specific keywords. The ads are typically displayed above and to the right of organic search results. The exact placement of the ads is determined by both a bidding process and quality score. The advantages and drawbacks of paid search are often the opposite of organic listings.
Paid social media is anything that is influenced by advertising dollars spent. Any post in your news feed that has the “Sponsored” tag is paid social media. If you then “like” that post, that is considered a paid reaction. Paid social media includes boosted posts, ads optimized for clicks, lead generation forms, video ads, among other objectives, and can be targeted by a variety of demographic and behavioral factors.

BrightEdge is the only technology that allows marketers to get an accurate understanding of how organic search rankings are tied to business value. It allows customers to track actual placement among all types of search results. BrightEdge users can switch data and reports between blended and classic rank results to gain more visibility and insight into the effects of local, images, videos, and more. You can also see how your content is performing across device types, like mobile, and in different regions within the same country. The image below from BrightEdge StoryBuilder shows Classic Rank in blue and significantly different rank for Blended or Universal results, which include universal rank types such as quick answers, images, videos, and shopping.


Organic search (SEO): When you enter a keyword or phrase into a search engine like Google or Yahoo!, the organic results are displayed in the main body of the page.When your prospects search for information about your products and services, you want to rank highly in search engine results. By “optimizing” your site, you can improve your ranking for important search terms and phrases (“keywords”). You can also improve your rank by getting other important sites to link to yours.
As the number of sites on the Web increased in the mid-to-late 1990s, search engines started appearing to help people find information quickly. Search engines developed business models to finance their services, such as pay per click programs offered by Open Text[7] in 1996 and then Goto.com[8] in 1998. Goto.com later changed its name[9] to Overture in 2001, was purchased by Yahoo! in 2003, and now offers paid search opportunities for advertisers through Yahoo! Search Marketing. Google also began to offer advertisements on search results pages in 2000 through the Google AdWords program. By 2007, pay-per-click programs proved to be primary moneymakers[10] for search engines. In a market dominated by Google, in 2009 Yahoo! and Microsoft announced the intention to forge an alliance. The Yahoo! & Microsoft Search Alliance eventually received approval from regulators in the US and Europe in February 2010.[11]
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.

Or, you could make up a fun game where the first person posts a picture illustrating their pet’s name. The next person has to guess their pet’s name based on the picture. So, if I had a dog named Spot, I might post a picture of a spot. (I did say to keep it simple!) Of course, it’s easy to guess, but it’s also fun and all you have left to do is sit back and watch the comments roll in.
Hi Matt, realizing now how difficult it is to run a blog, trying to promote it and carry on with your daily activities. I would say it's a full time job. Once you thing you done learning about something, something else is coming :). My blog is about preparing for an ironman so I need to add the training on top of it. Thanks a lot for sharing this article with us so we can keep focus!!!
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]
It’s unreasonable to assume that you will pull top rank in Google for every keyword relating to your industry. Your goal should be to pull top rank on the most desired keywords. This is an exercise that will take the effort of both marketing and management. Think about how people would search for your products and services, make a list of these keywords, and check the traffic for each term with a tool like Google’s Keyword Planner. Naturally you will want to rank for the keywords with the most traffic, so whittle your list down to the highest-trafficked, most relevant terms.
BrightEdge is the only technology that allows marketers to get an accurate understanding of how organic search rankings are tied to business value. It allows customers to track actual placement among all types of search results. BrightEdge users can switch data and reports between blended and classic rank results to gain more visibility and insight into the effects of local, images, videos, and more. You can also see how your content is performing across device types, like mobile, and in different regions within the same country. The image below from BrightEdge StoryBuilder shows Classic Rank in blue and significantly different rank for Blended or Universal results, which include universal rank types such as quick answers, images, videos, and shopping.
That’s not to say that there isn’t the same kind of competitive intelligence where SEO is concerned. In fact, I’m a big fan of analyzing your competitor’s SEO landscape. You can check what keywords they’re targeting and their sources of referral traffic to strengthen your strategy. But the bottom line is this: Your competitors can’t steal your content. The experience that you provide to users is unique to you.The more organic traffic you have, the more currency you have in the online space.

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!
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.

And executives in particular, whether you’re getting help from an external coach like myself, or have an internal expert that can help them with their profile, this is really important because your executives are the key to really building thought leadership. I know even at Act-On, Bill Pierznik has been making some really amazing posts on LinkedIn around his thoughts on the business world, and it’s garnered a lot of engagement. So, the more you could have your executives be the voice for your company and really get their profiles up and running, the better.
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.
Paid Search (PPC): Paid search results are advertisements. A business pays to have their ads displayed when users do a search containing specific keywords. The ads are typically displayed above and to the right of organic search results. The exact placement of the ads is determined by both a bidding process and quality score. The advantages and drawbacks of paid search are often the opposite of organic listings.
One of the most enduring misconceptions about search engine marketing is that whomever has the largest advertising budget wins. Although a larger advertising budget can certainly be advantageous, especially when targeting highly competitive keywords, but it’s far from a requirement for success with search engine marketing. This is because all ads go through a process known as the ad auction before appearing alongside search results. For the purposes of this explanation, we’ll be focusing on the ad auction in Google AdWords.
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. 
how is this good? What google is doing is atrocious. I’m not interested in what google decides is the right answer. I want to get to a website(s) and search for answers. When I look for a a local business I cannot even get to their website. There are no business phone numbers listed or hours of operations because small business do not have stafff or are not educated about latest google shanagans, time to change search engines.
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.
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.