Paid or sponsored ads usually charge you for a click, while SEO doesn’t require you to pay for impressions or clicks. But do keep in mind that quality SEO isn’t exactly free. Depending on the target market you are in, you will have to invest time and money into getting the desired results. And if you’re not an SEO expert, then you would have to work with a reputable SEO company do it for you.
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.

Nathan: You’ve mentioned status updates. One of the things I’ve been doing with the podcast is creating a video introduction. It was last fall that LinkedIn started having native uploads of videos. And I’ve been noticing anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 views per post that I upload, where nobody was checking out my videos or status updates when I was doing it in the past. That might be something people think about, too, is adding the video element into their thought leadership post or their status updates. What are your thoughts on that?
As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work, the computer programmed algorithms which dictate search engine behavior, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines, and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience. Optimizing a website may involve editing its content, adding content, doing HTML, and associated coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines. Promoting a site to increase the number of backlinks, or inbound links, is another SEO tactic. By May 2015, mobile search had surpassed desktop search.[3] In 2015, it was reported that Google is developing and promoting mobile search as a key feature within future products. In response, many brands are beginning to take a different approach to their Internet marketing strategies.[4]
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]

We're also going to have to both educate small businesses about how to optimize their GMB listings as well as why it's important and smart agencies will have to expand their GMB local listings services to include pakages that include optimizations, and monitoring of clients' GMB listings. I think the more areas of online marketing an agency that serves the small business and local business markets can have service offerings in and branded, proprietary products that help those small and local businesses compete with the larger companies, the more successful they'll be.

The leading search engines, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo!, use crawlers to find pages for their algorithmic search results. Pages that are linked from other search engine indexed pages do not need to be submitted because they are found automatically. The Yahoo! Directory and DMOZ, two major directories which closed in 2014 and 2017 respectively, both required manual submission and human editorial review.[39] Google offers Google Search Console, for which an XML Sitemap feed can be created and submitted for free to ensure that all pages are found, especially pages that are not discoverable by automatically following links[40] in addition to their URL submission console.[41] Yahoo! formerly operated a paid submission service that guaranteed crawling for a cost per click;[42] however, this practice was discontinued in 2009.

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?

Mobile traffic: In the Groupon experiment mentioned above, Groupon found that both browser and device matter in web analytics’ ability to track organic traffic. Although desktops using common browsers saw a smaller impact from the test (10-20 percent), mobile devices saw a 50 percent drop in direct traffic when the site was de-indexed. In short, as mobile users grow, we are likely to see direct traffic rise even more from organic search traffic.

In the zero-results sets, Google was still willing to show AdWords, which means if we have customer targets, we can use remarketed lists for search advertising (RLSA), or we can run paid ads and still optimize for those. We could also try and claim some of the data that might show up in zero-result SERPs. We don't yet know what that will be after Google rolls it back out, but we'll find out in the future.
The objective of (SEM) is to drive traffic to your website with the intent of converting those visitors into customers. With SEM, it is important to have your business site listed near the top of the search engine rankings since very few internet users will actually look at search results beyond the first couple of pages. SEM can be divided into two categories: organic and paid. Both are important.
Organic is different. Matching keywords to user intent means you may be present in many searches. The user may find you consistently, and once they get to your site, they are more likely to stay. Organic users are still your best long-term customers. In my experience, they have lower bounce rates and more pages visited, and they are more likely to return.