From 2009 up to 2016, attracting traffic to the website was quite simple. You found high volume keywords for SEO, wrote content around it, promoted it on social media, grew your followers and subscribers, earned links, and used ad platforms to drive conversions.However, that’s not the case now.

Until a few years ago, this is how the playbook looked:


But then, gradually, it stopped working as well as before.

Each step of the playbook became less effective:


What Happened?!

#1. The Social Platforms Massively Diminished Outlinking Traffic

  • Facebook Killed Organic Reach
  • They Sent Outbound, Referral Traffic to Zero
  • Declines in FB Referrals Have Hit Every Vertical
  • Instagram Has Always Prevented Outlinking
  • Twitter & LinkedIn Now Bias to On-Site Content
  • Reddit Works to Keep You on Reddit
  • YouTube Cuts Off Descriptions to Avoid Making Links Visible in the Default View

#2. Google (for the first time) Sends Less Organic Traffic

  • Google Solves More & More Queries Without Clicks
  • Cannibalization of Clicks is a Worldwide Phenomenon

#3. “Influencers” Failing to Deliver Influence…

#4. Web Advertising ROI (in many fields) Is Trending to Zero

  • Venture Dollars Flood the Ad Markets
  • Investment Dollars Aren’t Seeking Profits… Just Growth
  • Ad Bids in Many Sectors Go Far Above What’s Profitable
  • Many Marketers Aren’t Accountable to Metrics
  • Ad Costs Have Gone Up, While ROI Trends Down

The Smart Marketer’s Battle Plan

SO… What Do We Do?

Do this instead:


Make Your Website (and email list) the Center of Your Digital Campaigns

  • Own & Control Your Web Platforms
  • 10 New Emails > 10,000 New Followers
  • 100 Website Visitors > 10,000 New Followers
  • 100 True Fans Beats 100,000 Visits. Aim to Increase Passion > Traffic.
  • Change Your Approach to SEO: Click Volume > Search Volume

Invest in the Right Marketing Flywheel

  • A Great Marketing Flywheel Scales with Decreasing Friction


Market Where Your Audience Already Pays Attention

  • “Social” Isn’t Where Your Audience Is… That’s Just Saying “Our Audience is Online”
  • Discover Your Audience’s True Sources of Influence – Market There
  • Not the Most Followed X… But the Sources of Influence Most Followed by Xs
  • It’s Hard to Get This Data, but Surveys & Interviews are a Good Start
  • Your Targets Should Include ALL of These:
    • Podcasts
    • Web Searches
    • Events
    • Email Newsletters
    • Mainstream Media
    • Trade Journals
    • Whitepapers
    • Consumer Review Pubs
    • Blogs
    • Radio
    • Facebook Groups
    • Television
    • Twitter
    • Guerilla Marketing
    • YouTube Channels
    • Branded Publications
    • Industry Reports
    • Instagram
  • Pro Tip: If your competition ignores a channel, you get higher content/ad

Balance Social Engagement vs. Drawing Clicks

Broaden Content & Outreach Campaigns

  • Successful Content Targets Topics that Resonate with Amplifiers, Not Just Customers
  • The More Difficult Content is to Create, the Easier it is to Stand Out


  • Spray+Pray Outreach Leads to Reputational Damage (for both brand & social/email/search algos)
  • Human, Targeted, Story & Values-Driven Outreach Wins

Use Ads to Reach Already-Primed Audiences

  • First: Organic + Brand; Then: Ads + CRO
  • How to Win at Digital Advertising
    • Step 1: Earn brand exposure w/ your target audience
    • Step 2: Get >1 organic visit (or social engagement)
    • Step 3: Advertise to those who already know+like you


The new playbook for 2019 and beyond looks like this:


All the details, explanation, examples, and 97 slides of awesomeness can be found below. This is all from Rand Fishkin’s presentation from Engage PDX 2019 on the shifting web platforms and how marketers can best respond.

The Next Era of Web Marketing – How Marketers Can Stay Ahead of Industry-Wide Change in 2019 and Beyond

 If you’re doing only (or mainly) content marketing, you’re waiting for an inevitable march to the bottom. Use the tactics above to rebound.