Whether you are an established website or relatively new on the scene, the last few months have been upsetting if you rely on rankings for traffic. The reason? Google is doing its best to bring the search engine optimization industry to its knees, and we should thank it for doing so.
Rough Two Months
We probably should have known there were going to be problems when Google announced ahead of time that it was going to make significant changes to its ranking algorithm this summer. We’ve seen a number of unnamed updates, the launch of Penguin 2.0, Panda updates rolling month after month, a spammy keyword specific correction and, finally, a new roll out over the first two weeks of July. I shouldn’t say “finally” as Google appears to be intent on continuing this process through the summer.
What are all the new rules? You can find answers and guesses elsewhere. What seems to have happened is Google now is placing much less emphasis on links and is instead focusing on co-citation and on-site factors. Does this mean SEO is dead? No. Google is just much harder to figure out, and this should give you pause.
Thank You, Google
Thank Google? Am I insane? No. The reason we should thank Google is these latest changes are going to force all of use to rethink where we generate traffic from online.
I never ask my clients to do anything I will not first do myself, so let’s use this site as our focal point for this discussion. Historically, I’ve picked up nearly all my traffic and clients from rankings on Google. The primary traffic generators have been long tail keywords used in blog posts titles.
I’ve never done black hat on this site and have mostly stuck to registering for a few directories and doing a good bit of guest posting on legal or internet law sites. Despite this, I took a beating in the recent updates with 60 percent of my traffic evaporating. In some cases, my rankings dropped ten positions. In others, the rankings plummeted 100 spots.
So, am I in the process of fixing issues with the SEO for the site? Sure. Is this all I am doing? Not a chance.
As a legal professional, I can generate traffic from various social media sources. Facebook has never done much for me, and Twitter has been very hit and miss. LinkedIn, however, represents a fabulous opportunity and…I’ve never done much with it.
This lack of interest will now change.
My intention is to look to LinkedIn as my primary traffic generating source. My target audience [online companies] is all over the site, so the potential for generating business seems rather obvious. This fact is particularly true since my admittedly half ass efforts on the platform have already produced business in the past.
Press is one of the best ways to generate business for a website. There are two advantages. The first is you can introduce yourself to the target market through articles and interviews. The second is most news outlets have online platforms these days. If you can generate links to your site off those platforms, your site should shoot up the rankings. Don’t believe me? I’m pretty sure Google looks favorably on links from the Los Angeles Times website.
Now, I need to clarify that I am not talking about the poor quality press releases people crank out through free press release sites. Millions of these go out a day, so your chances of being “found” are slim to none. Skip these and try to form relationships directly with journalists in your niche. Do searches for news stories in your niche and see who is writing them. Follow them on Twitter and start up a conversation. Show them you know what you are talking about, and you could become a go-to resource for interviews. That’s like putting money in the bank.
Yeah, yeah – enough about me. What about your site? Well, what niches are there for you? Is LinkedIn an option or are you better off on Facebook? What about niche specific forums or social media sites? Anyone can generate press regardless of the subject matter, so educate yourself.
The truth of the matter is the days of relying on Google for easy search engine traffic are over. The company is only going to become pickier with its algorithm moving forward. As unhappy as you may be with the current situation, it is up to you to adjust. Relying on Google for anything these days is reckless in my opinion. Step back from your SEO efforts and look around for other options available in your niche. The sooner you figure them out and start drawing traffic, the sooner you can ignore Google and insulate yourself from any future algorithm updates.
At least that is my plan.
Richard A. Chapo, Esq.