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? 

I feel we can also focus a lot on the kind of keywords we target. I had a client who was in a very competitive market place, we optimized their site for some really targeted, long tailed keywords which didn’t have very high search volume, so the traffic didn’t really go up drastically but the amount of conversions & the kind of CTRs the site received was incredible.
ALT tags are HTML elements used to specify alternative text to display when the element they are applied to (such as images) can’t be rendered. ALT tags can have a strong correlation with Google SEO rankings, so when you have images and other elements on your web pages, be sure to always use a descriptive ALT tag with targeted keywords for that page.
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.

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.
Social Media Marketing (SMM): Focuses on branding, reputation enhancement and enhanced customer service via social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Smaller SMM channels include Digg, Delicious, Wikipedia, StumbleUpon and MySpace. Social networks are visited by a collective total of over one-billion people. Thus, even the simplest marketing efforts, like paid advertising, reach potentially large audiences.
Additionally, knowing how your SEO is performing can help you make the necessary changes over time to keep your rankings high. Look around for a keyword tracking tool to help you track how your SEO is performing. It’s typical for your ranking to fluctuate from week to week and even day to day. Look for a general upward trend from month to month that shows that your efforts are successful.
The HTML tag is meant to be a concise explanation of a web page’s content. Google displays your meta description beneath the page title in their organic results. While meta descriptions aren’t as important as page titles in your Google ranking, they do play a big role in getting clicks from users. People read descriptions as a preview of your page and use it to determine if your content is worth visiting. You should keep your meta descriptions to under 150 characters since Google won’t display text beyond that. You should also include target keywords in your text, since any words matching a user’s search query will be displayed in bold.
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.

Organic search engine optimization (organic SEO) refers to the methods used to obtain a high placement (or ranking) on a search engine results page in unpaid, algorithm-driven results on a given search engine. Methods such as boosting keywords, backlinking and writing high-quality content can all improve a site’s page rank. Black hat SEO methods, such as the use of keyword stuffing and link farming, can also boost organic SEO.
Companies that employ overly aggressive techniques can get their client websites banned from the search results. In 2005, the Wall Street Journal reported on a company, Traffic Power, which allegedly used high-risk techniques and failed to disclose those risks to its clients.[15] Wired magazine reported that the same company sued blogger and SEO Aaron Wall for writing about the ban.[16] Google's Matt Cutts later confirmed that Google did in fact ban Traffic Power and some of its clients.[17]
Keyword research is one of the most important thing you need to do before producing any content. Understanding what your target audience is searching for and what content to produce for them is vital in getting your content found, read and shared. In this session, Sameen shares how to do a keyword research and her strategies for finding the best keywords for your brand.
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.
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]
The most reliable way to increase search engine traffic is to create great content that your audience is looking for. For example, if you’re a pest control company, you may write a bunch of quality blog posts on getting rid of pests. The idea is to educate your prospects and move them towards buying from you. This is exactly where SEO intersects with content marketing.

Additionally, knowing how your SEO is performing can help you make the necessary changes over time to keep your rankings high. Look around for a keyword tracking tool to help you track how your SEO is performing. It’s typical for your ranking to fluctuate from week to week and even day to day. Look for a general upward trend from month to month that shows that your efforts are successful.
In 2007, U.S. advertisers spent US $24.6 billion on search engine marketing.[3] In Q2 2015, Google (73.7%) and the Yahoo/Bing (26.3%) partnership accounted for almost 100% of U.S. search engine spend.[4] As of 2006, SEM was growing much faster than traditional advertising and even other channels of online marketing.[5] Managing search campaigns is either done directly with the SEM vendor or through an SEM tool provider. It may also be self-serve or through an advertising agency. As of October 2016, Google leads the global search engine market with a market share of 89.3%. Bing comes second with a market share of 4.36%, Yahoo comes third with a market share of 3.3%, and Chinese search engine Baidu is fourth globally with a share of about 0.68%.[6]
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]
Search engines reward you when sites link to yours – they assume that your site must be valuable and you’ll rank higher in search results. And the higher the “rank” of the sites that link to you, the more they count in your own ranking. You want links from popular industry authorities, recognized directories, and reputable companies and organizations.

For our client: We took the top PPC terms based on conversion and worked these keywords into existing pages on the website. We also created new high-quality content-based pages from these conversion terms. This type of strategy can work very well in assisting overall conversions on the website and driving more revenue. We also conducted a large-scale keyword research project for the client which yielded in uncovering many areas of opportunity for content development and targeting. 
I still believe that Facebook and Google are great platforms to promote your business, but only if you are willing to pay. If your goal is Organic growth, I recommend looking at newer platforms such as Quora, Reddit, Snapchat, Medium, Instagram, Tumblr and similar. These are all established platforms that still offer some opportunities for organic reach, because although popular, they are nowhere near the saturation levels of Facebook and Google. You can also look at startups that you feel will become very successful in the future, take a small gamble perhaps and try to establish a strong presence there.
Organic search is the backbone of a strong digital marketing strategy. It not only drives people to your website, but the insights offered through search trends can help you properly plan and execute your broader marketing course. Brands that want to employ strong marketing tactics should not neglect the power of organic search and the Data Cube in guiding their success.
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.
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.

In 2007, Google announced a campaign against paid links that transfer PageRank.[29] On June 15, 2009, Google disclosed that they had taken measures to mitigate the effects of PageRank sculpting by use of the nofollow attribute on links. Matt Cutts, a well-known software engineer at Google, announced that Google Bot would no longer treat nofollowed links in the same way, to prevent SEO service providers from using nofollow for PageRank sculpting.[30] As a result of this change the usage of nofollow led to evaporation of PageRank. In order to avoid the above, SEO engineers developed alternative techniques that replace nofollowed tags with obfuscated Javascript and thus permit PageRank sculpting. Additionally several solutions have been suggested that include the usage of iframes, Flash and Javascript.[31]
With the advanced search feature, I always recommend that after you put in your demographic information, you check the option for second degree connection. And the reason for that is it’s really powerful to be able to ask whoever the mutual connection is to make an introduction, or to use them as a reference in your introduction. I know even for myself that I’m much more likely to respond to someone who knows someone that’s already within my network. And I’ve seen this and I’ve heard about this working really well for a lot of different sales folks, telling me how just even name dropping a single person got them that initial phone call.
The position of a link on a search results page is important. Depending on the search term, organic search results often make up only a small portion of the page. Since ads are at the top of the results page, on a device with a relatively small display -- such as a notebook, tablet or smartphone -- the visible organic search results may consist of only one or two items.
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.
Another way search engine marketing is managed is by contextual advertising. Here marketers place ads on other sites or portals that carry information relevant to their products so that the ads jump into the circle of vision of browsers who are seeking information from those sites. A successful SEM plan is the approach to capture the relationships amongst information searchers, businesses, and search engines. Search engines were not important to some industries in the past, but over the past years the use of search engines for accessing information has become vital to increase business opportunities.[31] The use of SEM strategic tools for businesses such as tourism can attract potential consumers to view their products, but it could also pose various challenges.[32] These challenges could be the competition that companies face amongst their industry and other sources of information that could draw the attention of online consumers.[31] To assist the combat of challenges, the main objective for businesses applying SEM is to improve and maintain their ranking as high as possible on SERPs so that they can gain visibility. Therefore, search engines are adjusting and developing algorithms and the shifting criteria by which web pages are ranked sequentially to combat against search engine misuse and spamming, and to supply the most relevant information to searchers.[31] This could enhance the relationship amongst information searchers, businesses, and search engines by understanding the strategies of marketing to attract business.
I still believe that Facebook and Google are great platforms to promote your business, but only if you are willing to pay. If your goal is Organic growth, I recommend looking at newer platforms such as Quora, Reddit, Snapchat, Medium, Instagram, Tumblr and similar. These are all established platforms that still offer some opportunities for organic reach, because although popular, they are nowhere near the saturation levels of Facebook and Google. You can also look at startups that you feel will become very successful in the future, take a small gamble perhaps and try to establish a strong presence there.
At our agency, we work with sites of varying sizes, from very large to quite small, and recently, we have noticed a trend at the enterprise level. These sites aren’t relying as much on Google for traffic any more. Not only are they not relying on Google traffic, but also, the sites are getting less than 10 percent (or slightly more) of their organic traffic from the search giant.
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