So just how much of the traffic that finds itself labeled as direct is actually organic? Groupon conducted an experiment to try to find out, according to Search Engine Land. They de-indexed their site for the better part of a day and looked at direct and organic traffic, by hour and by browser, to pages with long URLs, knowing that pages with shorter URLs actually do get a large amount of direct traffic, as they can be typed quickly and easily into a browser. The results showed a 50% drop in direct traffic, clearly demonstrating how all of these other factors come into play during the analytics process.
Lynn, it is so true that just talking about a brand in a blog post gets you noticed. I did a blog post a few years ago on a toy and mentioned that is was on the Parenting Magazine top 10 list. I did not link to the magazine, I just mentioned it and they sent me a free one year subscription to their magazine, and a whole box of coloring books for my kids. It wasn't monetary, but at least the company acknowledge that I referenced them.
Think about this. Where do you first turn to when you have a problem or when you’re curious about a topic? Google, right? It’s a no-brainer. Search engines are the ideal matchmakers between you and potential customers. In fact, 93% of all online interactions begin with a search engine. To leave this prospects in the dust is to leave revenue on the table. But here’s where search engines and organic traffic give you a real marketing edge.
Click through rates: Searches using terms that denote high purchase intent such as product or brand-specific keywords will get more clicks than organic results. The advantage of paid search can clearly be seen in the Internet retailers MarketLive Performance Index data. For the year 2013 as a whole, PPC accounted for 36.5% of search traffic but an outsized 47.9% of revenue from search.

Click through rate: Except for high purchase intent searches, users will click on paid search listings at a lower rate than organic search listings. Organic listings have more credibility with search engine users. In one UK study, published by Econsultancy, only 6% of clicks were the result of paid listings. In another study, it was 10%. The important thing to remember is that click through rate varies by purchase intent. Organic rankings will get more click through rates for “top of funnel” keyword search queries.
AdWords is recognized as a web-based advertising utensil since it adopts keywords which can deliver adverts explicitly to web users looking for information in respect to a certain product or service. It is flexible and provides customizable options like Ad Extensions, access to non-search sites, leveraging the display network to help increase brand awareness. The project hinges on cost per click (CPC) pricing where the maximum cost per day for the campaign can be chosen, thus the payment of the service only applies if the advert has been clicked. SEM companies have embarked on AdWords projects as a way to publicize their SEM and SEO services. One of the most successful approaches to the strategy of this project was to focus on making sure that PPC advertising funds were prudently invested. Moreover, SEM companies have described AdWords as a practical tool for increasing a consumer’s investment earnings on Internet advertising. The use of conversion tracking and Google Analytics tools was deemed to be practical for presenting to clients the performance of their canvas from click to conversion. AdWords project has enabled SEM companies to train their clients on the utensil and delivers better performance to the canvass. The assistance of AdWord canvass could contribute to the growth of web traffic for a number of its consumer’s websites, by as much as 250% in only nine months.[30]
Paid social can help amplify organic content, using social network advertising tools to target the audience. Using the rugby example, on Facebook you could target people who like other leading rugby fan pages. I recommend testing paid social campaigns to promote key content assets like reports and highlight important news/announcements. With a small budget you can quickly measure amplification impact.
One of the most enduring misconceptions about search engine marketing is that whomever has the largest advertising budget wins. Although a larger advertising budget can certainly be advantageous, especially when targeting highly competitive keywords, but it’s far from a requirement for success with search engine marketing. This is because all ads go through a process known as the ad auction before appearing alongside search results. For the purposes of this explanation, we’ll be focusing on the ad auction in Google AdWords.
Online Marketing Challenge (OMC) is a unique opportunity for students to get real-world experience creating and executing online marketing campaigns for real nonprofits using a $10,000 USD monthly budget of in-kind Google Ads advertising credit through the Google Ad Grants program. This global academic program brings two worlds together, partnering students and nonprofits, to support digital skill development and drive positive change around the world.
In addition to helping you find keywords you should be bidding on, thorough keyword research can also help you identify negative keywords – search terms that you should exclude from your campaigns. Negative keywords aren’t terms with negative connotations, but rather irrelevant terms that are highly unlikely to result in conversions. For example, if you sell ice cream, you might want to exclude the keyword “ice cream recipes”, as users searching for ice cream recipes are unlikely to be in the market for your product.
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?

An effective tactic to use to improve your SEO analysis is to measure the sources of your visitors and leads. By doing this, you will understand how impactful your tactics and strategy truly is. By using website tools such as Google Analytics and Adobe Omniture, you can learn about your traffic sources which can be helpful in learning if your SEO optimizations are effective. For example, are your users entering your website through your social media posts or are they finding your content through an organic search? Or maybe, you’ll find that your paid marketing tactics are more effective than you’d imagine. The bottom line is tracking your visitors and leads can provide many insights for both your paid and organic marketing strategies.

Well, yes and no. Sure, you can get hit with an algorithm change or penalty that destroys all your traffic. However, if you have good people who know what they are doing, this is not likely to happen, and if it does, it is easy (in most cases) to get your visits back. Panda and Penguin are another story, but if you get hit by those it is typically not accidental.
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