Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine's unpaid results—often referred to as "natural", "organic", or "earned" results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a website appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine's users; these visitors can then be converted into customers.[1] SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, video search, academic search,[2] news search, and industry-specific vertical search engines. SEO differs from local search engine optimization in that the latter is focused on optimizing a business' online presence so that its web pages will be displayed by search engines when a user enters a local search for its products or services. The former instead is more focused on national or international searches.
Many people know which search results are paid versus natural and often give precedence to natural search options. On the other hand, if your website shows up on later pages of the search results, you might have better luck using PPC to get seen. Because PPC costs money, you might consider using it for items that you sell, as opposed to promoting a free offer or your blog. With that said, many people have successfully used PPC marketing to promote a free lead magnet.
You know who and where your best customers are — Bing Ads lets you choose when and how to reach them. Control where your ads appear by city, state, country and worldwide. Fine-tune your targeting even further by setting the time of day to display your ads and on which devices. By targeting only your most relevant customers, you can reduce unnecessary spending.
Entertainment — The Internet is a plethora of things to do. Some are looking for videos. Others are looking for games. Many are entertained by new stories. Others like financial calculators. Others want to learn something new. Think about what kind of entertainment your target is looking for. Relate it back to your brand. That’s a great way to use SEM to connect.
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.

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]
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).
Many people know which search results are paid versus natural and often give precedence to natural search options. On the other hand, if your website shows up on later pages of the search results, you might have better luck using PPC to get seen. Because PPC costs money, you might consider using it for items that you sell, as opposed to promoting a free offer or your blog. With that said, many people have successfully used PPC marketing to promote a free lead magnet.

If you were to ask someone what the difference is between direct and organic website traffic, they would probably be able to warrant a good guess, purely based on the terms’ wording. They might tell you that direct traffic comes from going straight into a website by entering its URL into a browser or clicking a bookmark, while organic traffic comes from finding the site somewhere else, like through a search engine.

Guest blogging and infographic distribution are great ways to attract high quality links. Do not focus on the total number of links. Spend your time focused on quality links, from websites that are highly relevant to your business. If any SEO company tells you that they can rank your website virtually overnight you need to turn around and run away…fast. Google will continue to refresh their Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird updates, so make sure that you are focusing on quality rather than quantity.

Not all businesses will have the need or even the budgetary resources to deploy paid marketing campaigns. However, every business needs to embrace organic marketing. It’s not an option. Here’s why. A marketing strategy built only on paid is shallow; it won’t help you to build an authentic connection with your customers. If all they see are ads – with no educational content, informational emails, or even engaging social media posts to complement those ads – you lose the mindshare of your customers in two ways:
Get a handle on your brand reputation. Your brand story is the one that you tell. Your reputation is the story that customers tell on your behalf. If someone consistently stumbles on your site when they type in niche search queries, they’ll be intrigued. The result? They’ll start conducting navigational searches for your brand. The intent behind that search? They want reviews and other customer’s experiences with your business. Ask your customers for reviews and reach out to third-party review sites in your niche. This way, these navigational searches don’t come up empty. I also recommend monitoring your brand mentions. The easy way is to set up Google Alerts. Type in your brand name and create your alert. Any mention online and you’ll be notified.
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.
SEM is the wider discipline that incorporates SEO. SEM includes both paid search results (using tools like Google Adwords or Bing Ads, formerly known as Microsoft adCenter) and organic search results (SEO). SEM uses paid advertising with AdWords or Bing Ads, pay per click (particularly beneficial for local providers as it enables potential consumers to contact a company directly with one click), article submissions, advertising and making sure SEO has been done. A keyword analysis is performed for both SEO and SEM, but not necessarily at the same time. SEM and SEO both need to be monitored and updated frequently to reflect evolving best practices.
In addition to giving you insight into the search volume and competition level of keywords, most keyword research tools will also give you detailed information about the average or current estimated CPC for particular keywords are. This is particularly important for businesses with smaller ad budgets and this feature allows you to predict whether certain keywords will be truly beneficial to your ad campaigns or if they’ll cost too much.

Retargeting: Each platform offers retargeting to help you reach people who’ve already visited your website. The benefit of retargeting is that a conversion is more likely when you know the prospect is interested. You might also upload an email list and use Facebook Custom Audiences to serve ads directly to subscribers. In the following example, we see two ads that show in the Facebook sidebar to reach former web visitors.
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?

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Beyond organic and direct traffic, you must understand the difference between all of your traffic sources and how traffic is classified. Most web analytics platforms, like Google Analytics, utilize an algorithm and flow chart based on the referring website or parameters set within the URL that determine the source of traffic. Here is a breakdown of all sources:
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