After the recent Google algorithm change that I have dubbed “The Farmville Update” many internet marketers have seen their traffic plummet. The hardest hit have been the content farms that have allowed users to publish their content on these sites, and according to Google this change affects almost 12% of all search results. So whether you are relying on Google to rank your site higher in the SERPs or to rank your articles on Ezinearticles.com, Hubpages.com, Buzzle.com higher in the SERPs, you really have to ask yourself if you are relying on an unstable source of traffic.
All of the search engines claim that they just want the most relevant content to appear higher in the rankings, and apparently they are finding that it is impossible for any content farm to actually have useful information. Although I would disagree with this premise, I will admit that sites like Ezinearticles.com have been hit hard by spammers trying to game the system. And by the way, don’t freak out if your articles on Ezine have been hit hard by this algorithm update. Ezinearticles just posted an update on their blog about some changes that they are making to the site already. Seems like they are trying to kiss and make up with Google.
But is that what getting traffic has come to? We bow to the will of the search engines no matter what rules or algorithm changes they make. In essence, Google has complete control of the internet if we have this mindset. We may want our site a certain way, but if Google says we cannot rank our site if we do that, we must bend to their rules in order to get that search engine traffic. Whatever they say goes, and their is no police force or governance of this giant search engine.
So it really begs the question “Are you relying too much on Google for traffic? Some of you may be thinking that this is the only source of traffic you could hope to get. But this tunnel vision will only leave you hanging when a sudden algorithm change that is supposes to reward those “quality sites” and punish “content farms” shoots down some of your priceless winners with friendly fire.
We really need a discussion on OTHER sources of traffic. How can we get away from relying on traffic from search engines and instead focus on getting people to find our sites through social media, podcasts, guest blog posts, and so on? If most of our website’s traffic is coming from other sources rather than Google then we won’t really mind or even care when they roll our another algorithm change. And these algorithm changes are NOT going to stop. There will always be another one looming around the corner, waiting to gobble up another one of your sites that has only quality content on it.
Can Google really see what quality content is? The short answer is no, but they CAN see how visitors to your site respond when they come to your site. And they are betting on the fact that if people are bouncing like an Enron employee’s check, then it might not have the relevant information they were expecting.
Should you still try to rank in the search engines?
The right answer is no. We are not supposed to try to change the rankings at all. Just simply write amazing content and the “natural” backlinks will flood our site. But there ARE legitimate white hat things you can do to help improve your rankings.
- First, make sure all of your on site SEO is taken care of. Get your keywords in the meta tags, title, first and last paragraphs and so on. Then spend a lot of time tweaking your site so that visitors will want to stay longer and read more than one page. Try to increase the average number of pages that each visitor sees by interlinking to relevant posts on your site and adding some helpful videos.
- Try to improve your bounce rate by providing easy to find information. You see, your site might have the exact information a search engine visitor is looking for, but if they have a hard time finding it they will just click the back button sooner than you can say “wait don’t go!”
- Do some guest blog posting to try to increase exposure to your site and pick up a few extra readers along the way. I would rather have 10 extra loyal readers than a #1 spot in Google for a day because these people will KEEP coming back, no matter what algorithm change just happened. But an extra link will also help with rankings (not that we care about that right?)
- Make friends with some power Twitter users that are in your market and try to get them to tweet about your product, services, or website. Make sure you actually have a decent site for those twitter people to check out before you do this. Otherwise you are also undermining the sagacity of the power Twitter user. Make him/her look smart by having an awesome website waiting for people.
- Use your facebook fan page for your website to interact with people and start discussions on relevant topics. It will take a lot of extra time, but search engines will soon reward you. Google has stated that they are using twitter and Facebook data with their algorithm now, so any social media device that you can use to market your site should be implemented. Yes, it’s a headache and a lot of extra work, but hey, you didn’t think this was going to be easy did you?
Got some more tips for us? Let everyone know in a comment below. We love comments and can’t wait to read yours as well.