There’s a search engine named Google, you guys. Ever heard of it? Yes? Well, have you heard of Panda and Penguin?
If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky because Panda and Penguin are code names for changes made at Google that has the entire internet at a boil. These “improvements” have resulted in a displacement in rank for a massive number of business sites and blogs alike.
There is now a massive movement by businesses and blogs alike to try and move back into Google’s good graces. But the trap that people are falling into is believing that the only way to market a business on the internet is to be in Google’s good graces. It’s not.
So accept it: Your Google Rank sucks. Now shut up, get over it and market your business.
Let me back up. Over the past couple of years, Google has committed to eliminating spam in its database (content by parties trying to game the system) and low value content (content that does not fulfill the initial query). While it’s not clear how Google is going about this, what is clear is that businesses and blogs that have been doing business and SEO legitimately on the Internet have found their ranking suffering. Google has also made other changes that make professionals question whether things will improve.
For example, Google no longer provides data for searches that culminate in a visit to your site for any users of any Google products. As a privacy measure, Google masks query information that ends up looking anonymous in your stats. This has the effect of making a large batch of your traffic difficult to identify and make sense of.
In another strike against users, Google has shuttered its keyword search tool; a staple of the SEO community. But, you can still use the tool if . . . wait for it . . . you buy ads from Google Adwords.
So if you think that Google is going to make a turnaround and change their platform to anything that resembles their search methodology of the past; dream on.
Here is our friend Kim Castleberry’s take on the fallout:
Sadly, I have little in the way of good news to report in this regard.
Since Penguin 2.0 was released, two subsequent releases have followed that have been equally problematic for a large number of high caliber bloggers. I’ve worked really hard on the blog the last month and have only lower numbers to show for it.
That is an incredibly disheartening feeling
Then there’s this from my personal man-crush Dino Dogan:
Let’s say you figure out the SEO game, Google will change the algorithm and leave you in the dust with yet another algorithmic update.
Oh, Crap. Now what?
Web.Search.Social Editor-In-Chief, Carol Lynn Rivera writes:
So now that search seems to be hammering so many people and it doesn’t seem like that’s going to change anytime soon, what do we do about it?
I actually posed this question to my mastermind group and lovely smart ladies that they are, they came up with some suggestions that are both worthwhile and dare I say going to be a necessary part of your marketing efforts going forward.
The first is be everywhere.
Despite the changes at Google there are still many options for successfully marketing your business online. You just need to find them and capitalize on them.
However, before we get too ahead of ourselves, let’s face one possibility.
If your ranking sucks, maybe your site sucks. Many businesses perceive their site to be built well. After all, they trust that their web developer built it correctly. But maybe your site isn’t the gem you think it is. Or perhaps all the flaws in it that were not issues before Google’s updates are issues now. Don’t assume that because you think your site is awesome that Google thinks so too.
Once you’ve tackled the “does my website suck” issue we can move on.
Without Google, we are left with a wide variety of marketing and amplification options: LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Google Plus, Instagram, Vine, Quora, Triberr, etc. It’s not unusual for a business to not have a presence on any of these properties and yet continue to spend money on chasing more favorable rank in Google.
So let’s think outside of Google’s box. Don’t crave to be a part of Google’s world. Crave to be a part of our customers’ world.
Here are initiatives that you should start or double your efforts on in the wake of Google’s changes.
(Re)Define Your Ideal Customer
Do you know who you are marketing to? Do you know who your consumers are?
Taking time to fine tune or redefine who you are targeting is an extremely valuable process to undertake. As the overall economy evolves, so do your customers. Those customers may have different demands of you and your products now than they did before. You can only be effective with your marketing if you know what your customers need.
Fix Your Website
OK, I’m coming back to this one, but from a different perspective.
I hate to say it, but most businesses build their website based on price. They find the cheapest person to build their site ( How much should a website cots? ) and there ends the story. It may be time to suck it up and have your website revamped by a professional instead of your former roommate’s friend’s former classmate’s son.
We’ve seen a quantum leap in what makes a “good website”. The landscape of how people consume websites has changed. The way search engines consume websites has changed. The way content, images, typography, sound and video can be used has changed. People walk around the world with tiny computers in their pockets and are almost universally ignored. Those people have money in those pockets, too. Your website should be doing everything possible to try to extract that money from those pockets by making your products and services easily reachable by anyone, anywhere.
Determine The Shortcomings Of Your Products Or Services
Your product or service may be great, but do your customers and potential customers perceive it that way? One of the things that often gets lost in marketing is that ultimately, you need to have a good product or service. There isn’t a single product that has no room for improvement. Find where your product can be improved, improve it and then let your audience know.
Reach Out To Existing Customers
These are the folks that have already spent money on your products or services. Capitalize on their positive experience with you to create new experiences with prospects. A great way to do that is to extract insights from your existing customers by sending them a questionnaire. Use that data to know how to sell to prospects better.
If you have big clients and they are in your local area, take them out for coffee or a meal. People choose who to do business with carefully, but they continue doing business with people they like.
How’s your mailing list doing? Have you been nurturing it? Has it been growing or do you count more unsubscribes than subscribes? Email still has the best ROI that any other channel. Let’s repeat that: Email has the best ROI of any other channel.
In other words, businesses can tie more of a return on their investment utilizing email than … wait for it … Google.
Sculpting a strong message and delivering it to your audience in an email campaign can be far less expensive than an Adwords campaign. Your audience is on your mailing list for a reason; because they want to hear from you.
You should recommit to your email marketing by:
- Improving your email campaign content.
- Possibly increasing the amount of email activity your business generates. You may see some unsubscribes, but losing people who aren’t interested in spending money with you isn’t bad. Your mailing list is about quality, not quantity.
- Tie everything about your business to your email campaign. Don’t just send out promotions. Send out news, information, questionnaires. Get people motivated to not only buy from you, but also to cultivate a relationship with you.
You want to be found for keywords, terms and content specific to your business. I challenge you to find a better way than producing regular quality content in the form of a blog. Your 5 page website may be great, but your 250 page blog will eat it for breakfast. Now that’s marketing power.
Keep in mind that the “quality” part is important. If you just pump out content in a sloppy haphazard way, then you buy yourself no good will with your audience and will probably gain no tangential search benefit.
Quality blogging is part science, part art. Finding the balance is a challenge, but when done right and tied to a strong email marketing campaign . . . POW! . . . I’m getting marketing chills just thinking about it.
Social media is as powerful a tool as any if used well. While your business may not be able to tie social media activities or engagement directly to sales (yet), it may be able to tie it to good will, good customer service and business evangelism.
If nothing else, your business should have a presence on every major social channel just to be competitive. It should also strive to provide better customer experiences on social than all of your competitors. It takes time, expertise and money, but it will yield you better results than sitting around crying into your beer because Google broke up with you. And as a side benefit, strong social signals may help with your search ranking. Bonus!
Do It All. But Don’t Depend On Any Single Channel.
Ultimately, the best advice I can offer is to add every channel available to your marketing mix. Don’t become so dependent on any one channel that if it changes or disappears your business will suffer. Apply this same principle to your email, your blogging, your social media and everything in between. And I’m not just talking about digital. If you print brochures and you only have one printer, you should stop everything and find yourself a competent backup.
A World Without Google
So take a deep breath and imagine a wonderful world without Google.
Just say, “Google, it’s not you. It’s me. I’ve moved on and now I found a better way to do business that still involves you. Just not as much.”
You can do it.
I know you can.
Need help? Need a gentle push in the right direction? Need a not-so-gentle push in the right direction. Consider hiring us.
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What challenges have you face in the post-Google world? What have you done to mitigate the effects? Let me know in the comments below.