Oh Google, how I love and hate you.
It seems that Google likes to keep people on their toes. Just when you think you have a business built up they pull the carpet out from you.
If you follow anything at all about SEO I’m sure by now you’re aware that the big G changed up their algorithm once again this week. While they say it only affected just over 3% of their results, it seems like much more.
I’ve seen some screwy stuff where pages are now ranking high that have nothing to do with the search term, and other quality sites with useful content knocked into the depths of the SERPS.
To be honest, a lot of the results don’t make sense. Sites that haven’t been updated in years are now outranking sites that have current content.
So what’s a person to do when the site they’ve invested days, weeks and years of their life and lots of money falls off the face of the planet?
Well, there are two basic choices you can make.
Become Ron Burgundy
You can just do nothing, not adapt to new changes and keep doing what used to work, much like Ron Burgundy in the movie Anchorman.
“Bob Dylan once wrote, The times, they are a-changin. Ron Burgundy had never heard that song.”
Maybe you will slowly work your way back to the top, but I guarantee you there will be more algorithm changes in the future.
Exploiting the system can only work so long before your business fails. Your rankings dry up as does your profits and you’re left there drinking away your sorrows.
Make a Drastic Change
The other option you can do is get working on making some drastic changes to either your website or business model.
If you are relying completely on Google rankings to build your business just know that you’re on shaky ground. One change and your clawing and scratching for a way to pay the bills.
If you have a profitable site that was kicked in the knees by an over-optimization penalty there are a few things you can try, but just know that it will be very time consuming and/or costly.
Create a Killer Site
Take a good hard look at your site and make sure to take your marketing/SEO glasses off. Does your content make sense? Does it help people?
A good way to check this out is to show your site to your non marketing friends and family and ask them what they think. You will probably be surprised with some of the answers you get.
If you’re afraid to show it to them then chances are search engines won’t like it either. Focus on making your website really, really good. (Yeah, I may be sounding a bit like Matt Cutts, but there is a lot of merit in it).
Think of your site as a long term investment and turn that sucker into a brand. Build up excellent content that people will actually want to share. Create a community either through your social media pages, comments or forums and get connecting to people. Give them what they want.
You will notice that you won’t have to rely as much on SEO as your traffic will start to shift and come from other sources.
Stop Link Building and Start Promoting
Ok, I’m going to admit that I’ve used a lot of different link building tactics such as article marketing, blog commenting, Web 2.0 creation, and blog networks. To be honest I don’t see these as bad, but they don’t work long term as we are seeing.
It’s time to take that energy and money that you were using to build low quality links and focus on promoting your sites in new ways. I’m talking tactics such as guest posting on quality sites, building up your Facebook pages and email lists, PPC campaigns, and a million other ideas that can help you build long term visitors.
Become a true marketer, not just a “me to” marketer.
One of my goals I’ve decided on for my business is that I want to start doing at least 2 strategic guest posts a month. I’m not just using them to build links, but to reach new audiences and build up my brand (which I’ll be relaunching over the next few weeks, but I’ll save that for another post).
Change Your Business Model
Is your business based off of building small niche sites? It may be time to change. I’ve been focusing a lot on niche sites over the past few years and to be honest I always feel like I’m playing the game Jenga and they can topple over at any time.
A few years ago I was doing really well on AdWords. I had found a way to spend $25-$50 a day in advertising and was making 4 figure profits every day (not a bad ROI). I rode that wave and got lazy until 1 day I got an email that I was banned from AdWords for life and I was left trying to figure out what to do.
Fast forward a few years and the niche sites I’ve been creating are once again at the mercy of Google and that sucks.
For me my business model is changing.
I’m in this business for the long haul so it’s time to start building up a brand.
Maybe you decide to change your model up and build up an e-commerce store, build out some software, write books, do freelance work, take on advertising clients, or whatever you’re good at. It’s time to start building some long term assets that aren’t at the mercy of what another company happens to do.
Not to say that SEO is dead, but don’t base your business on what another business does. If you’re success is dependent on what Google or Facebook decide to do than you’re building on rocky sand and it’s just a matter of time until you have your face shoved in a pillow shouting obscenities.
So how are you going to react? Are you going to do what a lot of people do and cry about it or are you going to get to work?
Unless you know someone working at Google there isn’t much you can accomplish by crying, but there is so much you can do by working hard and smart.
Make some changes and move forward. Build a solid business and go create something that lasts.
How Did The Google Over-Optimization Penalty Affect You?
I’ve heard from multiple people who have had their businesses completely wiped off of the top 100 results of Googles and their profits gone. Other had a few slight changes up or down. Maybe this was even a good change for you.
Write in the comments below how it affected your business and your thoughts.