Google has definitely made it much harder to rank naturally via SEO. Not only their algorithms have become much better at detecting unnatural links and SEO tactics, but also the layout of their search results have changed so that there are more components resulting in natural results to show up lower. In addition, the discontinuation of keyword data in the Google Analytics has created further issues in tracking success based on keywords.
The success for an SEO campaign should not be measured by having many #1's but should be measured on overall visibility and traffic to the website. SEO should be done not only for the website, but also for your social media sites and Youtube videos. The more content you can get in the search engines the better your results will be. Sometimes Youtube videos or social media content may rank highly for your keywords, which may result in traffic to your site.
The goal should be to get traffic to your site any way you can via any channel, not just SEO. Google is now looking at social activity as a factor, so not only social activity may result in traffic by itself, but also it may result in better natural rankings.
In some cases it might be easier to make a Youtube video rank for a keyword than a regular site, especially if there are very little videos about the subject that already rank in Google. If you create videos for this purpose, make sure to include links to your website from the description of the Youtube video and have a call to action in the video itself, which may be asking visitors to call you or visit your website.
If you search for a local business with a city name, you would most likely see a mix of 7 results from Google Local, which means natural results are pushed even further down. If you are a local business, you have to also optimize your Google Local profile and get as many reviews as possible. Local SEO has its own techniques, so make sure to hire someone that knows how to do this or do further research if you are going to do it yourself.
Since Google discontinued providing keyword data in Google Analytics, it has become much harder to track SEO success based on keywords. Therefore, here is another reason why marketers need to think of other ways to track success.
Ultimately the goal of each site is to get as much traffic as possible and also have descent conversion. Therefore, tracking traffic and conversation is probably the best way to measure SEO success going forward. Web stats need to be carefully analyzed to see where exactly the traffic is coming from. For social media, use tracking URL’s such as goo.gl or bit.ly to see exactly how many people are clicking on certain links.