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.
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.

Because so few ordinary users (38% according to Pew Research Center) realized that many of the highest placed "results" on search engine results pages (SERPs) were ads, the search engine optimization industry began to distinguish between ads and natural results.[citation needed] The perspective among general users was that all results were, in fact, "results." So the qualifier "organic" was invented to distinguish non-ad search results from ads.[citation needed]

That’s a massive problem. And it’s one that organic search traffic solves. If you want to correlate your marketing efforts with a solid ROI, pay particular attention to where your customers are coming from. If you know where they’re coming from, you can calculate what you invest in each marketing channel, and what return it yields for your business. Some people believe that PPC is better for calculating ROI because it’s more measurable. That’s misguided. You CAN determine what an organic visit is worth to your business in terms of a hard dollar value.
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.
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.
This community is full of opportunities if you're a fashion-based retailer. One of the major advantages is the fact that they add links to each of the products that they feature within their outfits - the links go directly to product pages. This is the holy grail for ecommerce SEO, and the traffic those links will bring through will convert at a very high rate.
The response rate here was huge because this is a mutually beneficial relationship. The bloggers get free products to use within their outfits (as well as more clothes for their wardrobe!) and I was able to drive traffic through to my site, get high-quality backlinks, a load of social media engagement and some high-end photography to use within my own content and on product pages.
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.
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.
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."
Rand, by all these gated searches and search cards etc are google effectively taking our homework ( in this case in the form of webpages / content), scribbling out our name and claiming it for their own? And then stopping users getting to the actual page? and if they are planning on removing organic traffic would they not suffer with regards to their ad revenue? Or is all this tailored for "ok google" and providing a more friendly search result for voice commands etc? Love Whiteboard Friday BTW, James, UK

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.

To give you an idea of just how much money is being spent on paid search, take a look at Google. Google's AdWords program is the most used pay-per-click (PPC) advertising program available today. While the tech giant owns YouTube and Android, among hundreds of other profitable brands, AdWords accounts for roughly 70% of their revenue -- which speaks wonders for its effectiveness.

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.
People find their way to your website in many different ways. If someone is already familiar with your business and knows where to find your website, they might just navigate straight to your website by typing in your domain. If someone sees a link to a blog you wrote in their Facebook newsfeed, they might click the link and come to your website that way.
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.
Having large groups of content that all revolve around the same topic will build more relevance around keywords that you're trying to rank for within these topics, and it makes it much easier for Google to associate your content with specific topics. Not only that, but it makes it much easier to interlink between your content, pushing more internal links through your website.
To drive instant traffic to your website: Unlike organic social marketing, paid social ads instantly deliver results. The moment your ad goes live on social channels, you will get to see a large number of visitors on your web pages. Paid social ads are therefore ideal when you are planning to make a new announcement or if you are launching a new product/service for your brand.
Organic and paid social media—you shouldn’t have one without the other. A solid organic strategy improves your online presence and reputation, and a paid strategy increases your brand’s reach and awareness to targeted audiences. Managing both aspects of social media takes time and planning, but the results of a well-executed campaign are worth the effort. No time to handle it on your own? We’ve got you covered.
Hubspot found that their articles up to 2500 words drive the most traffic. Similarly, posts with more than 2500 words generated more social shares and links. Naturally, it takes some investment to create that quality of content. The key is to come up with evergreen ideas. This way, your investment will more than pay for itself because your content will be serving your business goals years down the line. Put people first. The thing about search engines and how they rank content? It’s unpredictable. But one thing will remain constant. The job of a search engine is to connect users with the most relevant and useful information. If your content serves that purpose, you don’t have to fear algorithm changes.
Search engines use complex mathematical algorithms to guess which websites a user seeks. In this diagram, if each bubble represents a website, programs sometimes called spiders examine which sites link to which other sites, with arrows representing these links. Websites getting more inbound links, or stronger links, are presumed to be more important and what the user is searching for. In this example, since website B is the recipient of numerous inbound links, it ranks more highly in a web search. And the links "carry through", such that website C, even though it only has one inbound link, has an inbound link from a highly popular site (B) while site E does not. Note: Percentages are rounded.
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.
By relying so much on factors such as keyword density which were exclusively within a webmaster's control, early search engines suffered from abuse and ranking manipulation. To provide better results to their users, search engines had to adapt to ensure their results pages showed the most relevant search results, rather than unrelated pages stuffed with numerous keywords by unscrupulous webmasters. This meant moving away from heavy reliance on term density to a more holistic process for scoring semantic signals.[13] Since the success and popularity of a search engine is determined by its ability to produce the most relevant results to any given search, poor quality or irrelevant search results could lead users to find other search sources. Search engines responded by developing more complex ranking algorithms, taking into account additional factors that were more difficult for webmasters to manipulate. In 2005, an annual conference, AIRWeb, Adversarial Information Retrieval on the Web was created to bring together practitioners and researchers concerned with search engine optimization and related topics.[14]
In 2014, Cisco stated that video made 64% of all internet traffic. In 2015, Searchmetrics was releasing a white paper quoting that 55% of all keyword searches in the U.S. return at least one video blended into Google’s web search results and that 8 out 10 of those videos belonged to YouTube. And in 2016, Cisco was also sharing that online videos will account for more than 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2020.
Melissa: I think with thought leadership there’s a variety of different ways that you can go about this. But one of the best ways is really just utilizing that blog feature, the LinkedIn Pulse, part of LinkedIn, because you are already connected with the best audience possible. This is your business network, right? And then every time someone in your network likes or engages with your blog post, it amplifies it to their network. It’s like having a built in audience for your blog without all of that groundwork of creating your own blog.
Here’s the thing. Your web visitors aren’t homogeneous. This means that everyone accesses your site by taking a different path. You may not even be able to track that first point of contact for every visitor. Maybe they first heard of you offline. But in most cases, you can track that first touch point. The benefit? You can meet your potential customers exactly where they are.
The last thing you need to do is evaluate the results and simply do it all over again. You will need to be constantly reassessing your organic marketing plan. The situation, audience, and goals will be constantly changing. Your marketing plan will need to change to adapt to this flux. You should reevaluate your organic marketing strategy at least every quarter.
One of the reasons for a traffic drop can also be due to your site losing links. You may be seeing a direct loss of that referral traffic, but there could also be indirect effects. When your site loses inbound links, it tells Google that your site isn't as authoritative anymore, which leads to lower search rankings that in turn lead to traffic drops (because fewer people are finding your site if it's not ranked as highly and more).

Your strategy defines your audience, your platform, your content, and even how you measure success. For example, if you sell a product for a young demographic, you may decide that Instagram is the best place to build your brand by using a series of witty pictures with a strong call to action to make a purchase. Alternatively, you may decide to extend the reach of your brand by attempting to break into a new market, such as building a rapport with women, who comprise a large proportion of Pinterest users. Micro-blogging may be an ideal way to give busy business people the bite-sized content they need on their morning commute, while infographics provide visual punch to make a point instantly.
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.
Together is better! For many businesses, the best approach is a mix of both organic and paid search results. The advantage of this approach is that organic rankings give a business credibility and evergreen search results. Paid search (PPC) provides immediate top-of-the-page listings and greater click through rates, i.e., sales, when consumers are ready to purchase.
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]
So for the last 19 years or 20 years that Google has been around, every month Google has had, at least seasonally adjusted, not just more searches, but they've sent more organic traffic than they did that month last year. So this has been on a steady incline. There's always been more opportunity in Google search until recently, and that is because of a bunch of moves, not that Google is losing market share, not that they're receiving fewer searches, but that they are doing things that makes SEO a lot harder.
Organic traffic is the primary channel that inbound marketing strives to increase. This traffic is defined as visitors coming from a search engine, such as Google or Bing. This does not include paid search ads, but that doesn’t mean that organic traffic isn’t impacted by paid search or display advertising, either positively or negatively. In general, people trust search engines, and sayings such as “just Google it” reinforce that humans are tied to the search engine. Thus, paid search, display, or even offline campaigns can drive searches, which may increase organic traffic while those campaigns are running.
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