How to Move Back to Warmer Weather After Google’s Penguin Update
Last week Google gave us a gift, the Penguin update. In what seems to be their never-ending changes to its infamous algorithm the Penguin in all essence is a continuation of Panda (introduced to the world in 2011). The idea behind the Penguin, like was the Panda, is to provide Google visitors with high quality, original content. After all, that’s what we all want isn’t it?
Have you noticed a drop in search traffic to your website? To many webmasters the Penguin update was Antarctic cold. It literally sandboxed (meaning, de-indexed, out of sight, no longer in existence and can’t be found. Ouch!) many sites Google thought were scamming their system.
Now is the time to check your analytics. Did your site get hit? Websites that took the brunt of it all were using grey hat and black hat SEO techniques. Some commonalities from these sites that got hit are:
- Paid text links with the idea of having your keyword be the EXACT match anchor text. Worked great… up until a week ago.
- Comment spam or users who would have exact match anchor text in their signature.
- Guest posts on questionable sites. Let’s not be mistaken here. Guest blogging is a great SEO technique. However, it can be damaging to your sites rankings if your entire resume of guest blogging is from low page rank sites. And to further do harm, to again have too much emphasis on exact match anchor text and not quality content.
- Article marketing sites. These sites were of low quality, many had little regulation or guidelines in place regarding submission policies and thus published thin content that held exact match anchor text. With auto-syndication tools available, article marketing proved an easy –virtually hands free way of quickly gaining hundreds and thousands of back links to a website.
- Inbound links from bad neighborhoods. Websites sitting in what Google considers “bad neighborhoods” are no good. Stay away, they are dangerous! These sites have been flagged for malware, dominated by pop-up ads, and other issues Google considers spammy. Links to / from these neighborhoods will do nothing good for your website equity.
All of these techniques worked great… up until a week ago. Classic example of quick gain and short-term profits using black hat SEO techniques. Obviously this isn’t the goal of the majority of business owners.
Yes, Google got excited about blog networks like BuildMyRank and organizations like TribePro. Does that mean what was once grey hat SEO techniques are now black hat? Grey hat was the loophole around Google. Unfortunately, many who know little about SEO probably got caught up in these practices thinking they were white hat and have since seen their rankings plummet. That is why it is essential to learn the meaning of white hat SEO and diversify your link building strategies.
Should we SEO specifically for Google?
This is a valid question for anyone with a website. Google is the largest search engine boasting nearly 70% of all searches on the internet. How can small businesses compete with the larger ones and not have their entire income suddenly dry up after another Google update?
Of course it’s not best practice for anyone to put all their eggs into one basket. It’s essential to diversify your link building strategy as it would be in any business. Internet Marketing isn’t an exception to diversification.
Let’s go over some other possibilities to optimize outside of Google.
- Socialize content. Blogging is an essential component to your overall presence online. But your efforts don’t stop once the blog has been written and published. It needs to be seen. Share it across your Social Media pages. If you aren’t in the Social Media game now, you’re missing a large opportunity for exposure. I suggest starting small with Facebook, Google +, Twitter, and YouTube. Of course you don’t need all of them but, each of them offer your clients / visitors great benefits to develop a relationship based on trust.
- Exchange blog posts with others in similar non-competitive markets. Exchanging blog posts holds two benefits. The first, it allows you to cross over into someone else’s home on the internet as an invited guest. Your new audience is looking towards you as a trusted referral.
- Quality content. After all, isn’t this why Google keeps updating their algorithm? It’s imperative your site has quality content that over delivers time and again. It will build trust with your clientele, prospects, and community. It’s like a good book versus a GREAT book. Which one has a better chance to become timeless? We want our websites to become timeless regardless of a change in algorithm and it begins with quality content.
- Facebook. Interact regularly with other businesses on Facebook and develop a relationship with them (below I’ll reveal an old school offline marketing technique that when done right will explode your online marketing!)
On a similar note we cannot disregard Google’s investment in Google +. If you think Google is not tracking +1′s and Google + shares, think again. Take advantage of this easy to use tool and reward yourself by teaming up with Google.
- Purchase Ads on Social Media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Because so many people share so much about themselves on Facebook, Facebook Ads can be designed and adapted like no other, certainly not Google Adwords. Take advantage of that information and create an Ad Campaign that targets the exact demographic of your clientele.
It’s time to think like a Publisher. Create content once and spin it into multiple channels. Create photo galleries on Flickr.com, videos on YouTube and create podcasts for your visitors and prospects to listen to. Turn your blog posts into an e-book to sell or give away. Of course with all of these methods you always point the user back to you via link to your website or other Call to Action such as a phone number or irresistible offer.
Think like an Entrepreneur. It’s time to stop worrying about what Google does. The simple truth is that their algorithms aren’t going to stop. Let’s get back to old school marketing techniques that can help our online marketing efforts. I’m talking about Joint Ventures. Team up with other businesses in your location and explore ways where you can achieve mutual benefits and new opportunities. For example, if you’re a scuba dive shop owner you can team up with local hotels in the area. Maybe together you’ll decide that guests staying at this particular hotel can get your scuba dive for 10% off published rack rate. When guests take you up on this offer, encourage them to leave a review (with your website link) on review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor. You win with the business and the added link juice and the customer wins with the great deal and easy accessibility of it all.
Another opportunity is to team up with a local charity. Again, you’ll be crossing over into new exposure and increasing your odds to rely less on Google algorithms and more on building long-term sound business practices and white hat SEO techniques. Will you rank on page 1 over night, mostly likely not but there is a good chance you’ll be in business for the long-term and that is a good thing.
Remember, Google is only 1 marketing channel. Let’s not forget about other search engines and let’s especially not forget about diversifying both our link building strategies (white hat SEO!) and offline marketing opportunities that can lead to positive reviews and ultimately more link juice.
To ranking on the first page for a long-time.