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.
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.

More eyes on your website are all well and good, but if you can’t get them to interact, you lose. Engagement is what’s going to facilitate the conversion that you want. When users become invested in your content, they keep coming back, and they become the fuel for your sales funnels. So what is a “rich content experience?” Here’s what I recommend. Be intentional.  Most people pump out content because they heard it’s the right thing to do. No rhyme. No reason. That’s a mistake. Every piece of content should serve a goal.
The great advantage of search engines is that users are directed to certain websites for a product or service, regardless of the brand that offers it. This is a great opportunity for small businesses that do not have sufficient resources to promote brand awareness. However, if your positioning works well in search engines, they can compete on equal footing with larger companies, and not only attract more qualified traffic, but also promote brand awareness.
There are many reasons explaining why advertisers choose the SEM strategy. First, creating a SEM account is easy and can build traffic quickly based on the degree of competition. The shopper who uses the search engine to find information tends to trust and focus on the links showed in the results pages. However, a large number of online sellers do not buy search engine optimization to obtain higher ranking lists of search results, but prefer paid links. A growing number of online publishers are allowing search engines such as Google to crawl content on their pages and place relevant ads on it.[16] From an online seller's point of view, this is an extension of the payment settlement and an additional incentive to invest in paid advertising projects. Therefore, it is virtually impossible for advertisers with limited budgets to maintain the highest rankings in the increasingly competitive search market.
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.
Website owners recognized the value of a high ranking and visibility in search engine results,[6] creating an opportunity for both white hat and black hat SEO practitioners. According to industry analyst Danny Sullivan, the phrase "search engine optimization" probably came into use in 1997. Sullivan credits Bruce Clay as one of the first people to popularize the term.[7] On May 2, 2007,[8] Jason Gambert attempted to trademark the term SEO by convincing the Trademark Office in Arizona[9] that SEO is a "process" involving manipulation of keywords and not a "marketing service."
That said, ground-up marketing works because it’s work. There’s no substitute for careful attention to your website’s content and careful curation of your business’s social media presence. Paid ads can be an effective tool within a high-budget marketing strategy, but if the consumer arrives at your website and doesn’t find what they’re looking for, how is that investment working for you? It’s not. If a sponsored tweet draws them in but a discrepancy in expectation chases them away, what’s the benefit there? It’s absent. Organic marketing is a long process, but ultimately it will yield more authentic customer engagement and more accurate SEO.
Network marketing: Network marketing companies have a great business model (for those who own the company), because they only pay their sales people (a.k.a. “independent business owners”) when they make a sale or recruit another person. They only pay on performance. So to sell a bunch of product, the direct sales company really doesn’t go directly to the consumer through TV or magazine ads or similar methods that could easily cost millions; instead they go indirectly through their sales people and only pay for the word of mouth advertising as a commission on a product sale. It’s really savvy business strategy that’s low-risk and high-reward, if it spreads far and fast enough by emotionally exciting the distributors. Distributors are heavily using social media like Facebook, YouTube, blogging and the like to generate sales and grow their network online.
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.
Content that ranks well in organic search – and does so for a long time – is particularly hard to out-rank due to the strong, positive signals it sends to the search engines and the subsequent authority it has developed. Gearing content to meet natural search intent is perfect for businesses looking to create a lasting presence and develop authority in relevant topics and/or industries. Focus on evergreen queries, question-based content and topic optimisation (where you look to cover every single facet of a topic) and you will be on your way.

Social media changes so quickly that it can be difficult to keep up with terminology and best practices. One of the biggest points of confusion that I see with business owners and marketers is the distinction and strategic balance between organic and paid social media. Understanding this is essential to creating a successful social media marketing strategy.  Organic and paid social media have distinct advantages but work best when implemented together. Every popular social media outlet has paid and organic elements, but since Facebook is the largest social network (both in terms of users and advertisers) I’m going to focus on that platform in this article.
For our client: We only used a smaller quantity of very high-quality link building each month. So, for example we only built 40 of the best links each month to supplement the work we were doing on the content marketing front. We also invested heavily into tracking competitor backlink profiles, using Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer. We worked out how the competitor's acquired specific backlinks, then by using outreach and content creation we obtained these links.
Usually, paid links will have an indicator next to them (in the example above, the words “Sponsored” and “Ad” fill this role) while organic links are left bare. You’ll likely remember seeing paid posts on other websites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You may have even seen sponsored posts on industry websites, where brands will pay a publication to write about their product or something related to their business.
Even if you don’t have a website, you can still make sure customers can find you online by creating listings on sites like DexKnows and Yelp. Just be aware that your customer base will be relying more and more on the internet to learn about your company, and a website will better provide the information they seek, as well as helping you build their confidence in your business.
With the development of this system, the price is growing under the high level of competition. Many advertisers prefer to expand their activities, including increasing search engines and adding more keywords. The more advertisers are willing to pay for clicks, the higher the ranking for advertising, which leads to higher traffic.[15] PPC comes at a cost. The higher position is likely to cost $5 for a given keyword, and $4.50 for a third location. A third advertiser earns 10% less than the top advertiser, while reducing traffic by 50%.[15] The investors must consider their return on investment and then determine whether the increase in traffic is worth the increase.

Network marketing: Network marketing companies have a great business model (for those who own the company), because they only pay their sales people (a.k.a. “independent business owners”) when they make a sale or recruit another person. They only pay on performance. So to sell a bunch of product, the direct sales company really doesn’t go directly to the consumer through TV or magazine ads or similar methods that could easily cost millions; instead they go indirectly through their sales people and only pay for the word of mouth advertising as a commission on a product sale. It’s really savvy business strategy that’s low-risk and high-reward, if it spreads far and fast enough by emotionally exciting the distributors. Distributors are heavily using social media like Facebook, YouTube, blogging and the like to generate sales and grow their network online.
Encourage incoming links. Google prioritises sites that have a lot of incoming links, especially from other trustworthy sites. Encourage clients, friends, family members, partners, suppliers, industry mavens and friendly fellow bloggers to link to your site. The more incoming links you have the higher your site will rank. But beware SEO snake oil salesmen who try to trick Google with spammy links from low-reputation sites. Some links can actually damage your SEO.

Sometimes considered to be a part of SEM, social media sites like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Delicious have search fields and also pass authority to sites through links. Making sure your content and links are placed (where necessary) on these social media sites can increase your influence in user search engine queries. SMM is a rapidly growing area of Internet marketing but to discuss it further is beyond the scope of this Guide.
Social media changes so quickly that it can be difficult to keep up with terminology and best practices. One of the biggest points of confusion that I see with business owners and marketers is the distinction and strategic balance between organic and paid social media. Understanding this is essential to creating a successful social media marketing strategy.  Organic and paid social media have distinct advantages but work best when implemented together. Every popular social media outlet has paid and organic elements, but since Facebook is the largest social network (both in terms of users and advertisers) I’m going to focus on that platform in this article.
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.
“Organic” is something of a buzz word. In the food sector, it carries connotations of healthy living, natural growth and honest, responsibly sourced products. Those connotations are just as relevant when the term relates to marketing campaigns. Companies encourage and maintain healthy growth through the use of carefully targeted organic content marketing. Doing so builds trust in the customer base while extending the brand’s reach. You may already be using organic marketing as part of your business strategy (perhaps without even realizing it). But, if you aren’t, it’s time to consider how to plant the seeds of a new campaign that helps your business to grow and flourish.
To remain competitive on the SERPs, you need to not only have keen insight into your own marketing strategy, but also what others in your industry are doing. You need to be able to pinpoint keywords for which they rank that you are not. You also want to be able to gauge their performance, including their acquisition of Quick Answers and other special features.
Utilizing keywords in your URLs will also help with your rankings. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to change the home page URL of your website without your domain authority being reset. However, each additional page you add is a place to insert a keyword, as long as it is relevant to the actual page content. We’ll go over blogging shortly, but URLs of blog posts are a great place to use your keywords.
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.
Use social media. Build a presence on social media networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ etc. All of these activities help to get your name out and website address out on the internet. Read about how we doubled our social media audience in a week. Add share buttons to your site to make it easy for people to share your content. And write content worthy of sharing.
Melissa Barker from Organic Demand Generation was recently a guest on the Rethink Marketing podcast, where she shared her essential organic B2B marketing strategies for LinkedIn in 2018. In addition to the many tech companies she’s consulted, including Act-On and Puppet, she also authored the first college textbook on social media marketing in 2010.
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!!!
And then when it comes to actually, ‘OK, so now I’m engaged in these groups, now what?’ What I always recommend doing is taking the conversation offline. So reaching out to the people who you responded to in the group via InMail, or taking it to email, or phone even, and really making that be the place where you do some of the investigating to figure out if they’re a good client fit for you.
You also should not underestimate the impact that organic search can have on the success of your website. Our research here at BrightEdge has found that about 51 percent of the traffic on the average site comes from the SERPs. In other words, more people land on your site because of the results pages for particular queries than because of your email, social media, and paid marketing efforts combined.
There are also a few more similarities. All of these marketing methods are measurable to an extent never seen in any other media. Every click can be measured – where and when it came – and followed through to the conversion, the sale and the lifetime customer value.  This feedback loop creates optimization opportunities that can create huge incremental improvements in your SEM campaigns.
hey james - congrats on your success here. just a question about removing crummy links. for my own website, there are hundreds of thousands of backlinks in webmaster tools pointing to my site. The site has no penalties or anything  - the traffic seems to be growing every week. would you recommend hiring someone to go through the link profile anyway to remove crummy links that just occur naturally?
Let’s first take a quick look at what organic marketing is and what it is not. Organic marketing is an array of marketing disciplines that create a cohesive and comprehensive approach to inbound marketing. It is using the online search and traffic habits of potential clients to reach them by creating high-quality and high-visibility content for them to consume.
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.
So if you're in the local space and you're saying, "Gosh, Google has really taken away the ability for my website to get the clicks that it used to get from Google local searches," going into Google My Business and optimizing to provide information such that people who perform that query will be satisfied by Google's result, yes, they won't get to your website, but they will still come to your business, because you've optimized the content such that Google is showing, through Google My Business, such that those searchers want to engage with you. I think this sometimes gets lost in the SEO battle. We're trying so hard to earn the click to our site that we're forgetting that a lot of search experience ends right at the SERP itself, and we can optimize there too.
Many page owners think that organic reach (the number of unique individuals who see your post pop up in their news feeds) is enough to make an impact. This was true in the first few years of Facebook but is no longer the case. Facebook, and many other social media networks is truly a pay-to-play network. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are all on algorithmic feeds, meaning posts are shown to the user based on past behavior and preferences instead of in chronological order. Organic posts from your Facebook page only reach about 2% of your followers, and that number is dropping. Facebook recently announced that, in order to correct a past metrics error, it is changing the way it reports viewable impressions, and organic reach will be 20% lower on average when this change takes effect.
I think for agencies as far as how we appear in organic search ourselves, we are definitely going to need to leverage all 3 of the solutions you talk about and agencies who haven't branded their products/services are going to have to do that and are going to have to also employ branding strategies. In addition, we have to optimize for other search ares like you say in your point #2 and we must look at optimizing existing content for voice search and answers/featured snippets like you say in point #3.

In February 2011, Google announced the Panda update, which penalizes websites containing content duplicated from other websites and sources. Historically websites have copied content from one another and benefited in search engine rankings by engaging in this practice. However Google implemented a new system which punishes sites whose content is not unique.[35] The 2012 Google Penguin attempted to penalize websites that used manipulative techniques to improve their rankings on the search engine.[36] Although Google Penguin has been presented as an algorithm aimed at fighting web spam, it really focuses on spammy links[37] by gauging the quality of the sites the links are coming from. The 2013 Google Hummingbird update featured an algorithm change designed to improve Google's natural language processing and semantic understanding of web pages. Hummingbird's language processing system falls under the newly recognised term of 'Conversational Search' where the system pays more attention to each word in the query in order to better match the pages to the meaning of the query rather than a few words [38]. With regards to the changes made to search engine optimization, for content publishers and writers, Hummingbird is intended to resolve issues by getting rid of irrelevant content and spam, allowing Google to produce high-quality content and rely on them to be 'trusted' authors.
Early versions of search algorithms relied on webmaster-provided information such as the keyword meta tag or index files in engines like ALIWEB. Meta tags provide a guide to each page's content. Using metadata to index pages was found to be less than reliable, however, because the webmaster's choice of keywords in the meta tag could potentially be an inaccurate representation of the site's actual content. Inaccurate, incomplete, and inconsistent data in meta tags could and did cause pages to rank for irrelevant searches.[10][dubious – discuss] Web content providers also manipulated some attributes within the HTML source of a page in an attempt to rank well in search engines.[11] By 1997, search engine designers recognized that webmasters were making efforts to rank well in their search engine, and that some webmasters were even manipulating their rankings in search results by stuffing pages with excessive or irrelevant keywords. Early search engines, such as Altavista and Infoseek, adjusted their algorithms to prevent webmasters from manipulating rankings.[12]
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.
There are also a few more similarities. All of these marketing methods are measurable to an extent never seen in any other media. Every click can be measured – where and when it came – and followed through to the conversion, the sale and the lifetime customer value.  This feedback loop creates optimization opportunities that can create huge incremental improvements in your SEM campaigns.
By 2014, people were seeing approximately 5,000 advertisements every day, according to statistics from the Content Marketing Institute. Faced with that kind of competition for an audience’s attention, there are two common approaches: paid marketing and organic marketing. Paid marketing involves assigning a budget to your advertising campaign and paying various platforms for the promotion.
Clients turn to search engines because they really need a product or service. They have already created a need; it only remains to find a company that suits their interests. It is a medium that can easily encourage conversion, if the company offers what the customer is looking for; the visit will result in action by the customer, either a direct purchase, request for a quote, or more information for a later purchase.
And then when it comes to actually, ‘OK, so now I’m engaged in these groups, now what?’ What I always recommend doing is taking the conversation offline. So reaching out to the people who you responded to in the group via InMail, or taking it to email, or phone even, and really making that be the place where you do some of the investigating to figure out if they’re a good client fit for you.

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.  


In some contexts, the term SEM is used exclusively to mean pay per click advertising,[2] particularly in the commercial advertising and marketing communities which have a vested interest in this narrow definition. Such usage excludes the wider search marketing community that is engaged in other forms of SEM such as search engine optimization and search retargeting.

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.

SEO (search engine optimization) for organic search: SEO is a free method of SEM that uses a variety of techniques to help search engines understand what your website and webpages are about so they can deliver them to web searchers. These techniques include things like using titles, keywords and descriptions in a website and webpage's meta tags, providing relevant content on the topic, using various heading tags (i.e.

), and linking to and from quality online resources. 

Probably the most well-known Integrated Vertical Search is  Google’s “Universal Search” –  although all of the major search engines have now adopted similar search formats. This is the practice of incorporating different types of results in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), such as news releases, images, videos, etc., depending on the query.  This was a game changer for SEO when it was first introduced – it became necessary to create and optimize many different types of content because they all show up on SERPs. The term for this comprehensive approach is referred to as Digital Asset Optimization (DAO).

The term “organic traffic” is used for referring to the visitors that land on your website as a result of unpaid (“organic”) search results. Organic traffic is the opposite of paid traffic, which defines the visits generated by paid ads. Visitors who are considered organic find your website after using a search engine like Google or Bing, so they are not “referred” by any other website.
Target all the relevant keywords for your industry. If you don’t actively go after the top keywords in your industry, there’s no way you’ll successfully create these customer touch points. The easy way to find these niche keywords? Use a tool like UberSuggest. Plug your queries into the keyword tool to get some more concrete terms. UberSuggest will give you a list of alphabetized queries. You can then use another tool like Google’s Keyword Planner to determine the competitiveness of these keywords.
A meta description is a short blurb about the particular page of your website. This is a great place to insert keywords easily. However, you also want to include helpful information for potential site visitors to draw them into clicking on your website. This blurb will appear in search engine results pages under your H1 title tag and URL of your webpage.
Marketing strategies have evolved over the course of time. Back then, organic search, when hit right on the spot, would give you the right amount of exposure that your business needs. Apart from that, it used to give you a better deal at a lower cost compared to when you do pay per click. However, with the digital age coming in and small businesses are starting to become popular, they are now mostly leaning towards the fast-paced wonders of paid search.
While inbound links are important, backlinks are just as important, but a little more difficult to acquire. We already went over how backlinks are important for building your domain authority, but the process to acquiring them can cost you hundreds. If you don’t have a budget for backlinks, try building relationships with other relevant quality websites that will link to your webpage.
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.
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?

For a long time, digital marketers summed up the properties of direct and organic traffic pretty similarly and simply. To most, organic traffic consists of visits from search engines, while direct traffic is made up of visits from people entering your company URL into their browser. This explanation, however, is too simplified and leaves most digital marketers short-handed when it comes to completely understanding and gaining insights from web traffic, especially organic and direct sources.

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