Let’s face it, Google is a monster. It is a beast that controls 80% of search engine activity. It’s not the 800 pound gorilla, it’s Godzilla. When it talks…
GODZILLA DID WHAT?
Once again Google has changed the playing field and this time it’s a little scary.
· In March, Google de-indexed some very high-profile blog networks including the now infamous BuildMyRank blog network. Subsequently, up to a million websites received “unnatural link warnings.”
· In late April, we were introduced to the new Google webspam algorithm (Penguin Update), which appears to be a hard line offensive intended to root out spammy tactics such as keyword stuffing, link spam, and spun content.
· Matt Cutts rocked our world explaining the changes as, “We try to make the GoogleBot smarter, we try to make our relevance more adaptive…and then we also start to look at the people who sort of abuse it, whether they throw too many keywords on the page, or they exchange way too many links, or whatever they are doing to sort of go beyond what a normal person would expect in a particular area.”
“Too many keywords?” “Exchange way too many links?” Yikes, that’s what SEO has always been about. We understand when Google jumps on spammy sites, machine-generated/altered and extremely low quality content–that’s just rooting out the cheaters–but “too many keywords?”
That’s the world we live in. Just like any other adverse market condition, small businesses have to adapt. Google owns the game and we have to play by Google’s rules. So where do we go from here?
For small businesses to optimize their search engine marketing, they must take a diversified approach. The old expression “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” applies here. If your SEM efforts have been overly focused on link-building, it’s time to rethink and reposition your plan. Begin with a new focus on these four strategies:
1. Generate buzz
Get involved with associations, write guest blogs, participate in forums with industry experts, nurture and publish customer reviews. Work toward building a market “presence;” create a buzz about yourself and what you do.
2. Think “Education”
Google wants web content that is end-user focused. That means that it is educational or in some way enhances the end-user’s experience. Every business has something valuable to share with potential customers. Consider: Plumbers can make a DIY how-to video; accountants can describe a recent change to the tax code that might save readers money; dentists can discuss new technologies. Offer knowledge; that has great value in the Google universe.
3. Develop content that builds links naturally
Natural links developed from thoughtful, high quality, educational information. Add a touch of humor, provocation and controversy to draw more attention to your content.
4. Add new online marketing tactics such as social media and email marketing
Some small businesses shun social media (irrelevant!) and email marketing (old school!). Social media is a legitimate marketing outlet as proven by the constant repetition in the media and print: “Join us on Facebook.” Customers look to social media for validation, special offers, directions, references and reviews. That social media can provide quality backlinks is important too. And how anyone can dismiss email marketing when just about everyone carries a smartphone 24/7 and checks email incessantly…
These tactics are not so much new as nuanced. Shift your emphasis slightly from marketing to educating and diversification will come naturally. And, you will find your small business on the right side of SEO—and Google.
THE BEAST IS STILL ANGRY
Google updates and algorithm changes will keep coming. No doubt about it. While Google often changes the rules of SEO, it has remained consistent in its objective: that the search experience of its customers is accurate, effective and pleasant and that every Google search returns quality content and links. Focusing on high-quality content is what made Google number one and Google is sticking with the formula.
The world of SEM is alive. It is constantly changing and evolving and the marketing strategies of small businesses must too. Google is a big, big ship so when there is a small adjustment to the rudder you’d better be ready to move—fast. A smart, nimble, diversified and aggressive SEM strategy will put you in the best position to navigate through whatever Google throws at us next.