Small business owners (and even large business owners) worry about Google updates.
Maybe “worry” isn’t the right word. I think business owners are always looking for ways to protect themselves from Google updates and this is the right approach when it comes to Google because in today’s world most businesses need Google and that reality comes with a few concessions.
Google Worries About Google
A big misconception in the online world is that Google owes websites free traffic. The truth is – at least what I see as reality – is that Google would probably be an entirely paid search company if it felt it could deliver the best results with paid ads. Google’s goal is to provide the best results possible to searchers. Google’s other goal is to make as much profit as possible. It makes sense that their ultimate nirvana would be an entirely paid structure for search results.
Understanding this reality puts in perspective how nice it is to have free traffic from Google and how important it is to diversify all sources of traffic so that you’re prepared if and when Google makes changes to its rankings formula.
Types of Google Changes and Updates
The biggest names in Google changes over the last couple years have been Panda and Penguin. There have been a few variations or extensions of these updates and they’ve been pretty extensive.
Basically the changes were put in place to clean up Google’s results. For a few years, building links had been very much about paying for links and doing other things to manipulate the rankings. And because these strategies were rewarded (in the short-term) more companies and websites took place because they felt they had to in order to compete for SEO traffic.
Google clamped down on it and the change affected quite a few websites.
The other change was the quality of content on websites. Google started looking at each page and entire websites to rank the quality of content. Those with higher value content (as determined by the searchers that spend time on pages consuming content) found that their rankings increased while those with lesser value content suffered.
Another kind of change is one I experienced first hand.
I have a site called Country Music Life. It’s a hobby, but also a way for me to show potential GBW clients that we can actually consistently write blog content without interruption.
The site provides reviews for new country songs. It’s a way for people to discover new songs.
In 2010-2011, there was a change from Google. It didn’t really have anything to do with links or content. The change involved the way rankings were listed on the Google results page. Instead of ranking only websites, Google started putting a high emphasis on YouTube videos in the rankings. This had a negative impact on CML because when people searched for songs or music they were shown YouTube videos instead of website pages.
The first lesson from Google updates is don’t take the mentality that you have to outsmart Google. That may work in the short-term, but never in the long run. If anything you’ll build false expectations that will crash down later.
The second lesson is that Google doesn’t owe you anything. It’s in their best interest to have all paid results or at least results that include their own properties (YouTube). I think in the case of CML that showing videos is a good thing. Google found a way to benefit users and benefit itself. We’ll probably see more of this in the coming years, which means less SEO traffic for regular websites.
Creating Content for Your Target Audience
If you’re doing any type of gray area link building or SEO tricks it’s best to stop now and move into a strategy that’s focused more on the long-term.
A good long-term strategy and one that aligns with Google’s current goals right now is to create content.
That content can be something like a blog, a series of guides, podcasts, videos, graphics, etc.
People crave information. In today’s world, information (or content) is part of your product offering. It’s a way to earn trust and a way to get people to purchase something from you.
The nice thing right now is that Google provides information to people. It’s the biggest search engine in the world because they are the best at sorting all the information on the Web and delivering relevant results to people.
To recap, people need information and Google needs information.
Your Homework: Create Information (content).
Again, Google will probably be an all paid model at some point, but if you have information there are other ways to get people to find it.
The basic idea for growing your business and something like a business blog is to grow your audience by tapping into the audiences of others. Think of it like a new country artist on the scene. They have a great new song to offer the public, but they don’t have an audience. So they go out on an audience building campaign. They visit radio stations. They open shows for other artists.
The radio stations get content for their audience and so do the superstar acts. It’s a win-win for all involved and the biggest benefactor is the new kid on the block that can grow their audience eventually being able to profit from those people.
You can grow your company by building content and exposing it to other audiences. Write about other people in your posts. Get their attention so they expose your brand to their audience. Do something that is newsworthy. Do something for charity. Partner with another website on a webinar or on a guide of some kind.
Build your social networks to grow your audience. Also focus on Google+ because it can bring traffic on its own and it will probably impact search in the short and medium terms.
Do everything you can to grow your audience. You’ll be creating this huge influx of traffic from all these referral sources and eventually you’ll have people subscribing to your site for future content.
This makes your company immune to Google Updates.
Yes. In the meantime you’ll even get SEO traffic and that can bring you new customers.
Create information your customers want. Grow your audience and diversify your sources of traffic, leads and sales.
That’s the ultimate way to protect yourself from Google updates no matter what kind of changes they implement.