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?

Use long tail keywords. Don’t just go with the most popular keywords in your market. Use keywords that are more specific to your product or service. In time, Google and other search engines will identify your website or blog as a destination for that particular subject, which will boost your content in search rankings and help your ideal customers find you. These tools will help.


You’re not going to like this answer. But wouldn’t it be so simple if we would tell you to do one or the other and get stellar results? The truth is, an effective marketing campaign should include a bit of both strategies. For the short-term, a paid search campaign can give your business a quick boost, helping you gain exposure to customers searching for the relevant keywords in your campaign; however, sometimes consumers don’t trust—or even look at—paid ads. Using organic search methods, which consumers tend to see as trustworthy, will help drive traffic and increase revenue over the long haul, and solidify your position as a leader and authority in your niche.
Billions of people search the web every day. Search engine marketing (SEM for short) is how you can get your ads in front of these future customers where it counts: in premium spots on the first page of search results. You set your own budget and are charged only when your ad is clicked. This makes SEM an affordable way to reach more customers for businesses of all sizes — including yours.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Anchor text is the visible words and characters that hyperlinks display when linking to another page. Using descriptive, relevant anchor text helps Google determine what the page being linked to is ?about. When you use internal links (links on web pages that point to other pages on the same web site), you should use anchor text that is a close variation of your target keywords for that page, instead of phrases like click here or download here . But at the same time, avoid overuse of exact match keywords. Using close variations will help you rank better for more keywords.
For our client: We rolled out numerous new pieces of content onto their blog and news section; we aimed to make the content creative and funny. As the client was in the careers space we made use of “funny interview questions” and “technical interview questions” style articles. It was amazing that one of the articles even made it to the first page of Reddit. We also pushed out content which was related to various holidays in that year and also specific to the client’s industry and also current trends in the market. 
Organic marketing, of course, is different from outbound or paid marketing. Outbound marketing seeks to place advertising and promotional content in front of people who are not looking for it. In our era of big data, the ability to target advertising has blurred the line between in and outbound marketing slightly. Paid marketing is good at generating traffic when it is needed. However, organic marketing will continue to provide leads over time without the need to continue to spend on advertising.
This is both a challenge and a great opportunity. The challenge is because the organic spots aren’t what they used to be – there used to be ten organic spots on the first page to compete for – and only five above the fold, (which refers to the vertical limitations of a user’s screen and the amount of content one can view without scrolling). Now there might be local search results, news releases, images and video included in the results – many of those above the fold. What’s the new number one spot? Is it the first local result, news release, or organic listing?
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. 

Social media is adopting its own form of SEO in a way that promotes a positive user experience. The way this algorithm works is by putting your posts in a pool as small as one percent of your followers. If those people engage with the content, then it gets introduced into a larger pool. Slowly but surely, more and more people see it, but only if it’s engaging.
The term is intuitive; the definition of organic marketing refers to the act of getting your customers to come to you naturally over time, rather than ‘artificially’ via paid links or boosted posts. It includes any direct, instinctive, and , with the exception of paid marketing tools. Paid tools, such as artificial paid link-ads, are considered inorganic marketing. If you’ve been putting your blood, sweat and tears into revising and reinventing your user interface, maintaining Twitter and Facebook accounts, building your email lists, and improving your SEO, you’re doing it already. Now, let’s take a closer look at why it’s effective, and how you can do it better.
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.
Earlier I touched on using ultimate guides to shift the awareness of the reader to facilitate a conversion. That’s a solid example. Your content can serve any number of goals including sales, lead generation, etc. You could even use it to warm up a cold audience before you expose them to a paid campaign. It can lower your ad costs and increase your click-through rates. The utility of content is endless. You decide.
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.
As you build out your marketing strategy, it’s important to consider how you can best address all of your business goals through a combination of organic and paid marketing tactics. Some goals will lend themselves to one or the other. Other goals may require a combination of the two working hand-in-hand. Either way, both types of marketing will help you achieve your business goals in with impact and efficiency.
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.
Some search engines have also reached out to the SEO industry, and are frequent sponsors and guests at SEO conferences, webchats, and seminars. Major search engines provide information and guidelines to help with website optimization.[18][19] Google has a Sitemaps program to help webmasters learn if Google is having any problems indexing their website and also provides data on Google traffic to the website.[20] Bing Webmaster Tools provides a way for webmasters to submit a sitemap and web feeds, allows users to determine the "crawl rate", and track the web pages index status.
Optimise for your personas, not search engines. First and foremost, write your buyer personas so you know to whom you’re addressing your content. By creating quality educational content that resonates with you>r ideal buyers, you’ll naturally improve your SEO. This means tapping into the main issues of your personas and the keywords they use in search queries. Optimising for search engines alone is useless; all you’ll have is keyword-riddled nonsense.
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.
And then if that isn’t enough, what I’ve seen work well is provide some incentives. Have a social contest, a social engagement contest, where people can like content for an opportunity to win say $100 gift certificate, something small scale like that. I myself have been part of these sort of contests before for a number of organizations and see it really amplify the engagement, it gets it in front of your employees’ eyes and thinking about it. And then the beautiful part is after the contest is done, the habit’s built oftentimes. And you’ll notice those same people that were engaging initially for the contest continue to engage with your content and help amplify your message.
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.
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.
Hi Chris, "Good content" means a couple of things - good for readers and good for Google. Good content for readers means that the content answers questions, provides value, offers solutions, and is engaging. You want to keep the reader on the page and on your website for as long as possible. To make good content for Google, you have to provide the search engine with a set of signals - e.g., keywords, backlinks, low bounce rates, etc... The idea is that if you make good content for readers (engaging, valuable, actionable, and informative), your content will get more engagement. When your content gets more engagement Google will see it as good content too and put it higher in the SERPs. Making "good content" is about striking that balance. Let us know if that answered your question!
Another part of SEM is social media marketing (SMM). SMM is a type of marketing that involves exploiting social media to influence consumers that one company’s products and/or services are valuable.[22] Some of the latest theoretical advances include search engine marketing management (SEMM). SEMM relates to activities including SEO but focuses on return on investment (ROI) management instead of relevant traffic building (as is the case of mainstream SEO). SEMM also integrates organic SEO, trying to achieve top ranking without using paid means to achieve it, and pay per click SEO. For example, some of the attention is placed on the web page layout design and how content and information is displayed to the website visitor. SEO & SEM are two pillars of one marketing job and they both run side by side to produce much better results than focusing on only one pillar.
What you are in fact talking about, are Google's death stars like the Shopping box, Knowledge Graph etc. It's fully understandable why many SEOs can't stand them 'cause whole categories of websites (price comparison platforms, for instance) have already fallen victim of such death stars, and there will be certainly numerous other portals, which will lose almost all of their traffic in the near future. Despite your (quite good) suggestions on how to circumvent such an issue, the situation for such an endangered portal can be hopeless when it's its whole business model, which a new Google feature makes obsolete. See geizhals.at for a very famous example.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine's unpaid results—often referred to as "natural", "organic", or "earned" results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a website appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine's users; these visitors can then be converted into customers.[1] SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, video search, academic search,[2] news search, and industry-specific vertical search engines. SEO differs from local search engine optimization in that the latter is focused on optimizing a business' online presence so that its web pages will be displayed by search engines when a user enters a local search for its products or services. The former instead is more focused on national or international searches.
This is both a challenge and a great opportunity. The challenge is because the organic spots aren’t what they used to be – there used to be ten organic spots on the first page to compete for – and only five above the fold, (which refers to the vertical limitations of a user’s screen and the amount of content one can view without scrolling). Now there might be local search results, news releases, images and video included in the results – many of those above the fold. What’s the new number one spot? Is it the first local result, news release, or organic listing?

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.


Organic search (SEO): When you enter a keyword or phrase into a search engine like Google or Yahoo!, the organic results are displayed in the main body of the page.When your prospects search for information about your products and services, you want to rank highly in search engine results. By “optimizing” your site, you can improve your ranking for important search terms and phrases (“keywords”). You can also improve your rank by getting other important sites to link to yours.
Knowing which pages visitors go to directly gives you an opportunity to design those pages so they accurately and quickly address visitors' needs. For example, if you sell clothing and your new-arrivals page is a popular destination, you want to be sure the content is always fresh, and you want to provide easy access to the full department represented by each new item. Who wants to see the same items week after week on a page that is supposed to represent the cutting edge of your inventory? And if you're featuring a new raincoat or bathing suit, you want to let visitors also easily see your whole line of raincoats or bathing suits."

Those who communicate value, attract others who seek that value in that topic. Those who are in the know, have an edge over those who don’t know, and that’s valuable. It helps people get more of what they want and like, and reduce their risk and negative experiences. In business, it’s profitable to have more of the right information than your competitors ahead of time (as long as it’s done and used legally to avoid fines and reprimands like with insider trading). Having valuable information first means you can make moves and investments before competitors, to buy cheaper and/or sell higher.
The monthly volume of searches entered on keywords can be found with a few different methods. If you have a Google AdWords account, you can use Keyword Planner for this step. If you don’t, there are a few free sites out there that will give you similar numbers. Obviously, if a keyword has higher monthly searches you’ll want to keep it in mind. However, that also might mean that it has a higher keyword difficulty, and fiercer competition.
With organic search, you don’t have to outspend your competitors to outrank them. Your competitors can’t recreate the content experience that you use to drive organic traffic.  This one is major. PPC is easy to replicate and reverse engineer. Many spy tools allow you to dissect paid campaigns to see what’s working and what’s not. You can get insight into what ad creatives generate the most clicks.
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]
As small businesses arise, they start to think of ways on how to compete with bigger brands. One way to do this is to go digital. As internet and high-tech gadgets are highly accessible, consumers are now just one click away. Given this, once you go into the web, there is a high chance that you will be able to capture the market you are trying to reach. To help you decide whether to seek help from a professional SEO consultant or go the easy way of pay-per-click (PPC) or maybe even have both, we have laid down some pros and cons of both SEO and PPC.
You can also make sure that you’re not bleeding revenue due to friction somewhere along that path. How does that work? When you focus on organic search traffic, you’re compelled to take the battle to multiple marketing fronts. While SEO outperforms all other channels regarding ROI, it doesn’t always work in isolation. Email marketing, content marketing, social media, and other channels can all serve your SEO strategy. I’ll tell you something about marketers who are truly worth their stuff.
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.
Use long tail keywords. Don’t just go with the most popular keywords in your market. Use keywords that are more specific to your product or service. In time, Google and other search engines will identify your website or blog as a destination for that particular subject, which will boost your content in search rankings and help your ideal customers find you. These tools will help.
Keywords may get eyes on your content, but they won’t hold a viewer’s interest. You need something that’s going to keep them engaged, and keyword stuffing won’t achieve that. This is where the quality of your content is essential. Well-written, well-researched content keeps people reading, as it provides the solution they need, even if that solution is just something funny to fill a spare five minutes. It’s possible to enhance the content in many ways, such as formatting to arrange material in easily digestible sections, using infographics that are visually appealing and easy to share across social media, or creating videos that express ideas instantly. And don’t forget links. Creating a network of related content keeps viewers engaged with a constant stream of relevant information, and increases the chance they make a purchase.
Anyone who types in a search query has a specific intent. And they’re expecting the content that they find in the SERPs to satisfy that intent. If you can understand the search intent of your prospective customers, it will transform your marketing in several ways. You’ll be able to predict what keywords your potential customers are likely to use.  It’s easy to start targeting keywords with no structure or strategy. But that’s a mistake.
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?
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.
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