November 20, 2013
Here’s the problem – Google left the door wide open and people took advantage. This led to great rankings, traffic and, more importantly, money in the bank. People started to rely on the majority, if not all traffic coming from Google and then the rug was pulled from under their feet. This kicked off an almighty struggle with the King of Search, but I’m here to tell you today that it doesn’t have to be a fight. There is another way.
Stop Building Dirty Links
If you’re going to get back into Google’s good books, you need to cease using dodgy link building tactics full stop.
This isn’t one of those situations where you can be half in, half out – you need to move away from dodgy links completely.
And a word to the wise: dodgy links with generic anchors can only work for so long. Eventually Google will catch you (if they haven’t already). Then, say goodbye to Google sending you any traffic.
Get Rid of Legacy Links that Don’t Fit with Google’s Guidelines
If you have been building nasty links in the past, you need to get rid of them, or at least try to.
It’s a fact: you can’t get rid of them all, but the consequences of not doing this could lead to an algorithmic penalty or even a manual penalty.
You’ll know about a manual penalty in your Google Webmaster Tools account. You will usually see an unnatural links warning message.
If you’ve got an algorithmic penalty, you’ll only notice this when you check your analytics and see your traffic drop through the floor.
You can get a manual penalty (or manual spam action) revoked by showing Google the lengths you have gone to in order to try and remove the links. You’ll usually get a message back from Google within 1-2 weeks.
If you have an algorithmic penalty, you can go through your links, highlight the nasty domains that are linking to you and disavow them, but ultimately you may have to wait until the next Penguin refresh to see whether your rankings come back.
Dance to the Beat of Google’s Drum
Google has a set of quality guidelines that they recommend to webmasters and, when you think about it, it’s all really straightforward stuff. It includes avoiding nasty things like cloaking, hidden text, doorway pages and all that blackhat stuff.
It also involves making your pages for users, adding value and creating unique content.
This isn’t groundbreaking, or even rocket science, and remember that these guidelines are updated as Google continues to evolve along with their search algorithm.
Most importantly, though, when these guidelines are updated, don’t jump to conclusions and don’t make assumptions. This goes for algorithm updates, too.
A lot of people within the industry are being too quick to make up their minds without looking at the data, and these assumptions can often cause more problems than they solve.
Think about the Future and the Big Picture
One of the big mistakes that a lot of people are making is that what works now will carry on working forever.
Before Google’s Penguin update in April 2012, a lot of people thought that blasting nasty links at websites was going to continue working.
Those that looked at the bigger picture, however, could see that those practices were at best a calculated risk, and that Google would eventually bring the boom down and take action on manipulative link building tactics.
Content is what it’s all about, as it has been for a while (that and user experience). While there are a lot of people that struggle to get traction, there are tactics you can use that will get you results.
Don’t Put All of Your Eggs in One Basket
You can understand the temptation, knowing that some websites are getting 100,000’s of visitors a month from Google. While I don’t think you should give up working towards those insane levels of traffic, you can’t just rely on one tactic.
In business, you always need a contingency plan for anything that could go wrong, so you need to be sure to focus on other ways of generating traffic.
Just look at some of the top business blogs. Sure, they may be getting a lot of traffic from organic search, but there are a lot more things you can try:
- Social media
- Contributing to other blogs
- Doing interviews
- Link building (the white hat way)
I’ve found that the best way to figure this ‘traffic generation’ thing out is to not just look for a list of tactics, but look at how people are using them in case studies.
I understand that there may be some of you reading this post who don’t have any love for Google generally, and don’t like following anything Google says.
I understand why – Google does have a lot of power (too much), and its algorithm updates have the power to shake entire economies.
The truth about the ‘user experience’ thing is that, while Google’s ultimate aim (at a guess) is to stop users from going over to Bing and so protect its advertising revenue… Google is actually on to something.
Where are all those sites that didn’t give a damn about the user experience now?
Nowhere to be seen.
Where are all those sites that thought about user experience and building a community before anything else?
They’re still here and a lot of them are leaders in their field.
So, whether you like it or not, it’s time to get on board with the ‘user experience’ thing.
What’s your take on the current state of search?