Surviving Google Algorithm Changes

Whether you’re reading this the year this was published or a few years later on, the fact is that living exclusively on SEO is a deadly game to be played. I know of many folks who’ve been hit hard when Google makes a change to the way they do things. Worse is for eCommerce Web sites that honestly didn’t do anything that would warrant any sort of penalty. The Panda update of 2011 is just such an update. As this article of the time points out, this has shifted billions in ad spending.

In this article, I’m going to tell you how to watch your backside and not lose your shirt next time Google decides to get twitchy.

Keep all of your eggs out of one basket

In addition to working with search engines to make the best out of the search landscape, I recommend looking into other means of distribution. Reports of email newsletters being dead are greatly exaggerated. Also, social media is another great way to keep in contact with your  readers/followers. Utilizing these things can, in cases of things going south with SEO, save your butt. In the worst case, you start up a crazy campaign to get attention unlike anything the world has ever seen before. Video, social media, etc. can prove to be powerful mediums when you need quality back-links in a hurry. I’m also a big believer in being diversified, as well. eBooks and how to videos are examples of valuable information that you can share with the world that are not dependent on traditional SEO, and they make for good backup and supplement to your usual fare.

Surviving Google Algorithm Changes
Photo by Matt Hartley & GIMP

Quality content only goes so far

Too often I hear that keeping the content up to a certain level is what it takes to stay high in the SERPs (search engine results pages). To a degree, I personally have found this to be half true. I’ve seen instances of big name sites such as forums, select popular blogs, and other sources of valuable info being tossed aside after a Google update. No, I hate to tell you this, but you have to provide content that goes beyond being good. It actually must address a problem first. Being of good quality is just part of the equation, unfortunately.

On one of my other sites, I’ve written content doing nothing other than selling things. Now to be fair, I’ve offered lists of their benefits, why someone should consider buying them, and the products are something that I think deliver value to the end user. Ah, there’s the magical point: value. This can mean a nice little software roundup highlighting their “value” to the end user. You can even talk about products or services that you honestly feel good about sharing with others. The thing I’ve discovered after diving through my own analytics is that the pages that offered something I really liked stayed above water. Yes, even those with short content or that weren’t “wording the reader to death” with facts.

SEO rules still apply

I am not, by any stretch, an SEO (search engine optimization) guy. Do I have a comfortable understanding of it? Sure, enough to be dangerous, I guess. But I know that there are thousands of others out there who know a heck of lot more than I do. But what I’ve discovered is that content isn’t king. No, it’s only part of a much larger puzzle that must be followed up with value to the reader. And this value doesn’t always come from a 1300 word article or an in-depth review. Sometimes a few short paragraphs introducing someone to something cool or solving a problem are more than enough.

So I’m not claiming to be an expert here — not at all. But my skills do happen to fall into the box of, well, thinking outside of the box and not reading too much into trends. Just share, write, and be into what you do. The rest will take care of itself. But understanding this doesn’t negate what the SEO pros do. All I am suggesting is that folks stop trying to game the system. Just my two cents on what I have found to be successful. Remember, Google slap survival comes down to being prepared and diversified; adding value is secondary these days. Good sites get hit, too.

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  • http://stewartmedia.biz/myblog/ jimboot

    Gaming the system always ends in tears. What a lot of people miss though is some of the really simple things… Like having a look at what’s going on inside webmaster tools for instance. You can learn a lot there.

  • Anonymous

    My site has a bunch of blog comment links (thanks btw) and some other links that are a little more substantial.

    Panda hit me hard, but now all my rankings are back.

    Long story short, pursue a diversified link building strategy that incorporates AND encourages social media engagement eg comments, shares. AND follow the Google quality guidelines.

  • http://frasercain.com Fraser Cain

    Diversification is always great, and there’s increasing evidence that the search engines use all the new social signals as additional ways to help rank content. So by investing your time in social stuff, you’re actually boosting your SEO as well.

    Regarding quality content, I’d argue that if your content doesn’t provide value, it’s not actually high quality. People think they can write eloquently about a topic and do well in the search engines, but as you say, that’s not enough. When a person searches for a term, you want them to be grateful that they stumbled upon your page.

    Keep solving problems on your website, and your SEO will take care of itself.