When trying to promote your business or cause, building a website and getting traffic from search engines can be a great way to approach the process. In the past, you may have relied on specific techniques to help you get ranked in the search engines and get free traffic. Google has been at the forefront of the search engine industry for several years now. They have revolutionized the way that search engines find content for their searchers. In the last year, Google has made two big changes to its algorithm known as “Panda” and “Penguin.” While these changes are named after cute and cuddly animals, there is nothing cute and cuddly about them from the perspective of many webmasters. If your site has struggled in the search engine rankings after these updates have been implemented, you are definitely not alone. Luckily, there are some steps that you can take to improve your chances of success in the future.
Panda and Penguin
If you are successfully going to combat the changes that came with Panda and Penguin, you’re going to have to understand exactly what each one did. Panda was implemented sometime last year and it aims to eliminate content farms and low-quality content ranking in the search engines. If you remember what the search engines used to be like, there were many different content farms that rank highly in the search engines for many different search phrases. These content farms paid writers to write content based around a particular keyword and then published the pages online to get ranked in Google. While technically there’s nothing wrong with this strategy, the content was usually lacking in any value and didn’t provide much to the searcher. Google changed its algorithm to focus on the quality of content and basically shut down the content farm model overnight.
Penguin is another update that put an emphasis on quality. If you have engaged in search engine optimization in the past, you know just how important links are to the process. You know that your site has to have a lot of quality inbound links coming in if you want to rank highly. With the Penguin update, Google tried to remove a lot of sites that were over optimizing their sites and their link profiles in an attempt to rank highly in the search engines. They discounted and even punished certain sites for the unnatural linking practices that they were using.
Build Awesome Content
So what exactly should you do moving forward to promote your business on the search engines? You’re going to have to provide some awesome content. This doesn’t mean that you can do what you used to do in the past. You can’t just look up a keyword and then make a quick 300 to 500 word article about that topic and hope to start ranking right away. You’re going to have to use your brain and come up with something that no one else has. The content is going to have to be stellar and get people talking about it. Google wants to provide only the best content to people who are searching.
Whether you hire professional writers to create your content for you or you handle it by yourself is an individual decision that you’ll have to make. Regardless of what you decide, just know that you need to put the best content out there.
Keep Links Real
If you learned anything from Penguin it should be that you need to keep everything real. If you spent a lot of time in the past getting links from sources that would not be considered high quality, you need to stop that practice immediately. This means that you can’t get links from blog networks or buy links from those search engine optimization companies that sell you 10,000 blog comments for $5. Those aren’t going to get you anywhere and in fact, they might actually hurt your site.
Google wants to see a natural link building process occur with your site. This means that they want people to come to your site and then love the quality so much that they build a link on their own site to your site. When this happens naturally, you get links from all different kinds of sources. All of your links don’t just come from high PageRank blogs or from forums. Some will come from other people’s blogs or personal sites. Some will come from forums and some will come from question and answer sites. Some people will link to your site from social media profiles while others will share your pages on social bookmarking sites. This means that you have to create a very diverse linking profile if you are in the process of building your own links.
If you create really high-quality content and get the link building snowball rolling, the rest should take care of itself. Other people will see the content and then start linking to it naturally. This is ultimately what Google wants to see happen.
In addition to building links, you should also diversify your marketing tactics. Don’t just rely on the search engines to bring your site traffic. Get traffic from social networking sites, pay-per-click marketing, banner ads and other sources. By doing this, you should be able to weather any storm that comes along with future search engine algorithm changes.
Sarah Levy is a blogger for Merchant Express – a credit card processing company based in New York. Sarah covers topics from small business marketing to the latest in mobile technology. Read more of Sarah’s writing on the Merchant Express blog and follow her on Twitter @Sarah_Levy81