Practical no-nonsense advice for search marketers after Google's Panda
You may have missed our earlier article, ”Savaged by Google’s black and white bear”.
My name is Andrew McCance, I recently joined Search Engine Marketing People as managing partner. Although, my association with SEMP dates back to 2009, when the business was based in Paraguay and I edited their first SEO Guide.
In 2006, I left the United Kingdom for Argentina. I was out of the rat race, on gardening leave and no longer working my regular 07h00 to 21h00 six-day-week. Unlike most people, I had plenty of time on my hands.
With careers in healthcare and security long behind me, I started creating my own websites and blogs.
I had a couple of consultancy roles in offshore businesses and did what expats do first and best – I explored Argentina (an amazing country – ask me) and I partied like a demon.
In my early days, I tried out three or four Asian technology companies before I decided that the majority of businesses selling cheap services from Asia were basically charlatans and grifters.
Maybe I was unlucky, but I doubt it from the complaints I read online day-after-day.
Like all newbies, I was suckered a few times by the get rich quick, top rankings in a month brigade. Looking at the market today, those claims are even more outrageous.
I know what it is like to suffer a website falling down the search rankings like lead weight, do not be fooled, there is no quick solution, just work smart and work hard.
Moreover, every now and again I fell susceptible to the ‘’black arts’’, sometimes without even knowing my new SEO strategy emanated from the dark-side of the optimization spectrum and might spell disaster for my websites. On the other hand, maybe I did take a punt or two when the risk/reward balance seemed too enticing.
I smile when making/writing my admission: At an in-house meeting, some of my new colleagues shook their heads in dismay and waggled their fingers at my admission of dalliances with SEO darkness and they meant it!
However, honesty is the best policy and I would wager that my SEO journey is not dissimilar to many in the industry.
Believe me when I say, these days it is not worth it. Forget ”black-hat” search marketing techniques. For instance, take a look at this website – http://www.twitteraudit.com/ – if you are thinking about buying Twitter followers, Facebook likes or boosting your Google + circles, forget it. BIG GOOGLE is watching.
Organic-v-Pay Per Click Traffic
I am sure there are many webmasters and search marketing professionals who felt the same way about organic traffic as I did in the ‘old days’. I would wager that many SEOs ”tried on a black hat or two” before realising they were not becoming. In addition, deep down, years of business experience told me that total reliance on organic search traffic and indeed Google was a risky business.
Nevertheless, foolish pride is foolish pride. I got too big for my boots, “I knew what I was doing, I had Google all worked out” – Oh yer!?
At the end of 2008, I had developed an interest in social media. By 2009, I was already trying to find ways to use social media to grow my online businesses with greater search marketing diversity. Around March-April 2009, Google hammered my websites’ rankings. It was an unhappy time that made me think a more carefully about SEO-SEM.
I first installed FREE SEO Software to guide me and later bought Web CEO-software. I also gained (annoyingly) more respect for Google’s ever-changing algorithm. After a disastrous few months dancing with Google, I was a more pragmatic about search engine optimisation and search marketing.
When my websites’ rankings finally recovered, I felt like an SEO-warrior, battled hardened and ready for Google’s later Caffeine, Farmer, Penguins and Pandas.
In addition, at the end of 2009 friends-of-friends started to ask me for help with their websites and blogs. I was no longer just my own webmaster – I had clients.
2010 gave me a cartoon-like flashing light bulb in my head – Google’s Social Signals Updates were a catalyst for many changes in my search marketing mix. The rest, as they say, is history.
I promised practical advice to Search-Marketers post Google's Panda
Research is your strongest ally. Customer profiling and writing carefully for targeted audience is the future of SEO or more accurately described as Search Engine Marketing.
Customer profiling and writing carefully for targeted audience is the future of SEO or more accurately described as Search Engine Marketing- SEM.
When I realised that people search online for expert information and solutions to their problems, it was a game changer. If you want to be a search engine marketing winner, the most practical advice to Search-Marketers post Google’s Panda update is to remember that “content is king”. Provide authoritative and engaging information about your service, product or ideas that will resonate with your audience.
Provide authoritative and engaging information about your service, product or ideas that will resonate with your audience. Inform rather than sell.
The best advice I can give SMEs today is to stop bellyaching and get off your arse and do something productive about your search engine rankings. Remember, there are tons of good businesses out there in your exact same position. They are no doubt suffering a similar amount of panic.
Find lateral and vertical businesses that share common audience and common values. Unite to share good quality content on your websites and cross-fertilise your social networks/customers.
DO NOT stuff content with spammy links, just one good link to your website well positioned in an article after some killer advice or problem-solving that will inspire users to click your link.
It is my opinion that quality link building and referrals from quality websites and social media pages that have relevance is still the best way to attract targeted traffic – how can Google penalise your business for link-building conservatively and smartly to attract the right sort of traffic.
It is akin to Google shooting itself in the algorithm.
- Total reliance on organic search traffic is a risky business and recent Panda and Panda 2.0 updates surely reaffirm that building sustainable quality website traffic requires a diverse search marketing mix.
- Too much reliance on and putting all your eggs in Google’s basket is a very bad idea.
- Get yourself some good SEO software – I recommend WEB-CEO.
- Set-up alerts for Google news, SEO, SEM, online business, etc.
- Read widely, look for SEO-SEM industry consensus, do not rely on one voice and/or knee-jerk advice after Google updates.
- Go for a 360 degrees search marketing strategy – you need maximum visibility online.
Find every possible way to reach a targeted audience with a well-crafted message and think outside the box to stay ahead of the competition.
Forget tried and tested marketing for the material world, think about ways to engage and solve your audiences’ problems as an expert in the digital world. Lead your sector with carefully crafted messages that cry out for audience participation.
What should you put in your search marketing mix to give it some zing?
Firstly, it depends on your business, its maturity online and how well your website or blog is performing:
- Lead with Paid Search Marketing (PPC)
- Bolster your business with Organic Search Marketing
- Engage with all forms of Social Media Marketing
- Consider display advertising (choose very carefully)
- Blogging (both on your site and as a guest)
- Build backlinks but do not spam
- Use email marketing
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