Thanks for the comment, I would not say it is impossible to create high quality backlinks from scratch without content, you just need to do a review on competitor backlinks and see if their are any easy targets. We have had some good luck in the education space acquiring links on the same pages as competitor from PR5+ edu sites. It all revolves around the outreach strategy in which you put in place.

9. Troubleshooting and adjustment. In your first few years as a search optimizer, you’ll almost certainly run into the same problems and challenges everyone else does; your rankings will plateau, you’ll find duplicate content on your site, and you’ll probably see significant ranking volatility. You’ll need to know how to diagnose and address these problems if you don’t want them to bring down the effectiveness of your campaign.
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]
Regarding RankBain, my own assumption is that user signals are part of the training data RankBrain gets (even though Paul Haahr does not confirm that in the talk at SMX or the discussion afterwards). If that is true, then RankBrain will see your high CTR and maybe TOS, might try to figure out what pattern causes them and MIGHT try to change it’s own algorithm in a way that ranks results LIKE YOURS higher.
This is a crucial area. If you do not have schema markup and rel="author", you are costing your business money. It is as simple as that. As an example, say I want to make spaghetti (pasta) for dinner I search for “Spaghetti Recipe” and instantly I see some great markup in play, but one competitor has no markup and no rel="author" they are losing business in my eyes. Wouldn't you agree?.
Thick & Unique Content – There is no magic number in terms of word count, and if you have a few pages of content on your site with a handful to a couple hundred words you won’t be falling out of Google’s good graces, but in general recent Panda updates in particular favor longer, unique content. If you have a large number (think thousands) of extremely short (50-200 words of content) pages or lots of duplicated content where nothing changes but the page’s title tag and say a line of text, that could get you in trouble. Look at the entirety of your site: are a large percentage of your pages thin, duplicated and low value? If so, try to identify a way to “thicken” those pages, or check your analytics to see how much traffic they’re getting, and simply exclude them (using a noindex meta tag) from search results to keep from having it appear to Google that you’re trying to flood their index with lots of low value pages in an attempt to have them rank.
The term was first used by Internet theorist John Kilroy in a 2004 article on paid search marketing.[citation needed] Because the distinction is important (and because the word "organic" has many metaphorical uses) the term is now in widespread use within the search engine optimization and web marketing industry. As of July 2009, "organic search" is now common currency outside the specialist web marketing industry, even used frequently by Google (throughout the Google Analytics site, for instance).
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!
Thank you Brian for this great article! I enjoy reading it even though it took quite sometime of slow reading to sink all concept in and trying to remember them. For future reference, I also shared your article in my Facebook post so I can refer to and share with those who worked with me. I like the way you presented the details and its easy to read and understand.:)

Using the same 2 steps, we can also filter the All Pages section and the Content Drilldown to explore further how our organic traffic is using the site. A focus on this Organic Traffic is important because this traffic is, in many cases, free traffic that your website is receiving. Focus on doubling down on your pages that perform well and working to identify any pages that aren’t getting the organic traffic they deserve.
What if I read anymore information my brain will explode--so where do I go if I supply all the content, but am too lazy to read all of this. Who can I pay to run with this?--(Also-I know enough to do all the grunt work-just need some direction) I have a really fun project/marketing challenge, a moderate amount of coins, and other than today-usually a ton of commitment.  http://bdehaven.com

Now we have a list of landing pages for only visitors that originated from organic searches. Using this list, you can begin to explore your site content and better understand how the search engine is ranking your pages and where some of your traffic is originating. In addition to that, you can also see valuable information about how long these visitors average on the website and how many other pages they view after their initial landing.
So, you have downloaded your links profiles on a CSV and you now have an extensive list of all your linked domains. If you have been doing SEO for 8+ years like me you can probably just know from analysis which links are bad from a TLD and URL point of view. If you do not know too much you can use tools such as Link Detox: http://www.linkdetox.com/ to complete analysis of your link profile. I would always consult the advice of an expert SEO in this instance because it is easy for these tools to mistake good and bad links.

In short, press request alerts are requests for sources of information from journalists. Let's say you're a journalist putting together an article on wearable technology for The Guardian. Perhaps you need a quote from an industry expert or some products that you can feature within your article? Well, all you need to do is send out a request to a press service and you can wait for someone to get back to you.
Moreover: if you don’t have to, don’t change your URLs. Even if your URLs aren’t “pretty,” if you don’t feel as though they’re negatively impacting users and your business in general, don’t change them to be more keyword focused for “better SEO.” If you do have to change your URL structure, make sure to use the proper (301 permanent) type of redirect. This is a common mistake businesses make when they redesign their websites.
If RankBrain will become more and more influential in rankings, which is very likely, that means that SEO’s will start optimizing more and more for user experience instead of other factors. The problem is that preference is a volatile thing and you can end up with pages being clicked more often just because there is a cute kitty cat or little puppy on the front page. This looks to me like the perfect scenario for websites that operate on click bait.
That's why it's necessary to always stay abreast of developments in the SEO world, so that you can see these algorithm updates coming or you can determine what to do once they’ve been released. The WordStream blog is a great resource for SEO updates, but we also recommend Search Engine Land and Search Engine Roundtable for news on updates. Glenn Gabe of G-Squared Interactive is also a great resource for analyzing the causes and impact of algorithm updates.
Good question, for most directories I use they ask for mobile number to send a message of verification, for the ones which phone you for verification inform the company before hand to tell their customer service people to be ready. I know the bigger the company the more tricky these things get you just have to find out what works best to answer the calls even if they give you a direct number to use. 
Or, you could make up a fun game where the first person posts a picture illustrating their pet’s name. The next person has to guess their pet’s name based on the picture. So, if I had a dog named Spot, I might post a picture of a spot. (I did say to keep it simple!) Of course, it’s easy to guess, but it’s also fun and all you have left to do is sit back and watch the comments roll in.
Love the five different area of investigation that you went over, great way to analyze and diagnosis the issue. I would also definitely agree doing a rankings comparison between the two time frames, and not only check what your Google ranking is, but also track the search volume for your keywords to see if it has fluctuated or gone down. Google Trends is a great tool for this as well, as one of your keywords that your ranking for may have just lost popularity online.

Generating Organic Traffic is far from easy seeing you have to consistently update your blog with new and unique content. The less you update your blog the less your article pushes up in Google’s index. I would also suggest your Domain Name has a targeted keywords in it! So if someone is searching a set of keywords that are not only a topic title on your site but also a part of the domain name you have a really good chance of being displayed in Google’s Top Ten.
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.

Now, some buckets are worth more than others, and the three main buckets that you need to be aware of for search rankings are quality, trust and authority. So quality: what Google is trying to measure when they’re trying to figure out what sites should rank is offering something valuable or unique or interesting to googles searchers. For example: good content - if you are selling t-shirts and you are using the same description that every other t-shirt seller is using on their website then you are not offering anything unique to Google’s searchers. Even though your t-shirts might look pretty cool, the content is the same as everybody else’s, so Google has no way of telling that your t-shirts or your t-shirt site is better than anybody else’s. Instead, offer people interesting content. For example: offer them the ability to personalize their t-shirt. Give them information on how to wash it. What’s the thread count? Is it stain resistant? Is this something you should wear in the summer or is it more heavy for winter? Give people information, or even be more creative. Get people to share pictures of themselves wearing the t-shirt. Create a community of people who are interested in your product. Get a famous person to wear it and share that picture online. Do something different, do something unique. Show Google that you are different and better than the other search results.
Finally (sorry)…. Speed!!! I have queried this a few times with Google and expect speed to begin to play a bigger part on things moving forward from the mobile-first index. Last I heard they were even planning to do something around speed for launch (although what launch actually means is anyone’s guess with them rolling sites to mobile-first when they are “ready”).
Now, it is not that these sites are not interested in Google users. In fact, they have hired us to help them increase their share. However, they are getting so much traffic from sites like Facebook that it seems there is less urgency about attracting this traffic and less willingness to change the site to meet organic standards. Not long ago, sites would urgently and unquestioningly abide by Google’s standards to court that traffic.
A breadcrumb is a row of internal links at the top or bottom of the page that allows visitors to quickly navigate back to a previous section or the root page. Many breadcrumbs have the most general page (usually the root page) as the first, leftmost link and list the more specific sections out to the right. We recommend using breadcrumb structured data markup28 when showing breadcrumbs. How To Grow Your Organic Traffic WITHOUT New Content Or Backlinks
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