Tag Archives: search engine rankings

How to make your business Google-updates-proof

Has your search traffic been hit by the latest Google Penguin update? Many websites have taken a hit and according to the various search engine forums, people are even considering layoffs.

That’s pretty serious.

Are these businesses asking for it? Why depend solely on a search engine for your business?

Anyway, that’s not the main problem. There ARE some businesses that invest heavily into getting targeted search engine traffic and there is nothing wrong in that. So if your website depends on Google traffic, how do you make it Google-updates-proof?

What exactly are Google updates?

On and often Google changes its ranking algorithm to, according to its decision-makers and search engineers at least, provide better results to its users. Fair enough. Google is a company and it constantly has to strive to improve its user experience. So they are better judges of how they want to do it. If businesses depend on their algorithms, that’s that.

The recent Google update is called Penguin and I’m too lazy to figure out why it is called so but the main gist is many websites and blogs have lost their good Google rankings and consequently their traffic has nosedived.

Why does it happen? If all Google wants to do is index better content for its users, why some websites lose traffic?

There might be some genuine cases of grief as there is always some collateral damage when a change takes place for good or for bad, but in most of the cases the websites that lose traffic do so because they are solely generating content for that purpose.

When you generate your content to improve your search engine rankings without paying scant regard to its relevance and quality you are bound to create content according to the current algorithm. This is how it works:

  • You figure out how some websites are getting better rankings by following certain practices
  • You try to replicate those practices and experience good results
  • You apply those practices throughout your business and feel very happy

This mostly happens by producing search engine optimized content. I myself have been providing search engine optimized content to my various clients. People also improve their search engine rankings by getting scores of inbound links but right now they are not the focus of my discussion. Since I provide content, my main focus is talking about Google updates vis-a-vis your content.

So when you produce and publish content just to improve your search engine rankings you are bound to be hit whenever Google changes its algorithm. This is because you and Google both are trying to outsmart each other all the time and since Google is a bigger player in this game, you are the one who is hit the most.

Here are a few things you can do to make your blog or website Google-updates-proof:

  • Publish good quality content for the sake of publishing good quality content: The content that you publish on your website or blog should be targeted towards your visitors. It should provide value to your visitors. It should be well written. Even if you are using keywords important to your business, use them when you really need to use them. Don’t just cram your keywords into every page or blog post you publish.

    Most of the websites that are hit by Google updates have inferior quality content (with a few exceptions that are termed as “collateral damage”). Since when you produce and publish content just to please search engines, consciously or unconsciously you customize your content according to their current algorithms. So naturally when these algorithms change, you lose your advantage.

    On the other hand from the beginning itself if you focus on your readers and if your content is ranked well for its quality it is never going to lose its position (again, with a few exceptions). Producing and publishing quality content takes time and a little bit of money (if you hire a content writer or a blog writer), but it is a lot better than completely going off the search engines radar due to a few algorithm changes.

  • Don’t just depend on Google and other search engines: There are many ways these days you can generate quality traffic to your website. It’s just a matter of changing your mindset. For instance, have you built a noticeable presence on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube? In fact there are many businesses that have bypassed the search engines and are still doing better than those depending on search engine traffic.

    Aside from social media and social networking websites you can also get inbound links from quality websites. Of course, you should also go for paid links if you are not worried about losing your rankings on Google. But a better way would be to write guest articles and guest blog posts on trusted and quality blogs and websites to not only expand your presence but also get quality inbound links.

  • Build a mailing list: E-mail marketing still rocks no matter how much it is maligned by spammers. Build a double opt in e-mail list for yourself so that you can send routing updates to your subscribers. In fact it can be one of the most potent tools in your kitty once you have spent ample amount of time building your list. There are many ways you can build your list but this deserves a different blog post.
  • Have a business blog: It is surprising to know that there are still many businesses who don’t have a blog. A blog doesn’t just attract quality traffic from search engines it is also a good source for repeat traffic. It builds your brand. It helps to establish yourself as an authority. As a brand you can create a vibrant community using its comments section. Simply by becoming an important part of various blogging networks and communities you can get an uninterrupted stream of traffic without having to worry about Google and other search engines.

The main point is, don’t just depend on Google for sustainable business especially these days when multiple tools are available to you. It just doesn’t make sense.

External links on how to survive different Google updates

  • 17 Ways SMBs Can Survive the Google Penguin Update Effect
  • Penguins, Pandas, and Panic at the Zoo
  • Hit by Google Penguin? An In-House SEO Crisis Management Plan
  • 3 Hard Lessons to Learn From Penguin: Be Relevant, Be Balanced, Keep it Real


What makes your content click

Content writing is not as challenging as it seems sometimes. With little bit of dedication you can create 3-4 blog posts or webpages for your business, and you can also get an unending stream of topics and ideas by visiting other blogs and subscribing to their RSS feeds (you can also search Twitter and Facebook and stumble upon some really good stuff).

The real challenge is to make your content click. What does that mean? Your content publishing and content strategy has an objective or an agenda, right? Why are you spending so much time on creating and publishing content for your website? Fine, the quick answer would be to increase your search engine rankings. But are you really achieving that?

Very few people actually sit down and think about what they are doing when it comes to writing content and implementing a solid content strategy. Your content clicks when it has the desired effect. When you are publishing content you are trying to achieve the following (you may have different priorities though):

  • You want to increase your search engine rankings
  • You want to provide great and valuable content to your visitors so that they keep coming to your website
  • You want to maintain a lively buzz around your online presence
  • You want to educate and inform your prospective customers and clients so they are not in double mind when it comes to doing business with you
  • You want to establish yourself as an authority so that people trust your judgement, respect your knowledge and believe in you when you ask them to do something

These are but a few things you want to achieve through content publishing.

Here I am not talking about the base content on your website: your home page and other business pages. I’m talking about all the extra content that you continuously publish because eventually it is that content that increases your search engine visibility and keeps people hooked on to your website.

So how do you achieve the objectives mentioned above (and many more that you may have in mind)? Here are a few things you can do:

Have a consistent theme

Your visitors must know what they are in for when they visit your website or blog. Then they already have receptive by the time they start reading your content (or watching/viewing in the case of images or video). For instance, if you have a content writing and content strategy business, and if you want to publish a business blog then most of your blog posts must be centered around content writing and content strategy. This way people who are interested in your topic can relate to your blog or website.

Having a consistent theme also shows that you have a lot to say about your business and your expertise. In fact, you have got so much knowledge, that you can constantly share it with your visitors for a long time. Always remember that having a niche is always better than writing for a highly broad audience.

But having a theme doesn’t mean you cannot write on something else. For instance, some of my blog posts talk about SEO, social media and social networking, blogging and even web design and web structuring. I write these posts because I believe that they can help my business as well as my clients.

Provide solution-oriented content

Does your content solve a problem and makes life easier for your visitors? Does it give them what they are looking for? For instance, what do people look for when they come to my website or when they read my blog? They are either looking for a content writer or trying to figure out how they can write content on their own in a better and effective manner. They might also be interested in reading about content strategy – how to formulate it, how to establish it, and then how to implement it.

Provide content people can share

Eventually everything boils down to how much of your content is shared. You might be getting lots of traffic directly from search engines and that is really great, but if you don’t want to solely depend on search engines, then you have to focus a big part of your energies on to encouraging people to share your content through their social media and social networking profiles like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube. But they are not going to share your content simply because you have published it. It should be of great value whether it informs or entertains. People share content mostly for the following reasons:

  • They want to pass some relevant piece of information onto their followers and friends
  • They are curating quality content for later use
  • They want to entertain or make their followers and friends laugh by sharing something funny and amusing
  • They want to trigger a debate or discussion while using your content as a platform and as a central point
  • They want to associate themselves with the standards represented by your content
  • They want to show you that they agree with what you’re saying or disagree with what you’re saying
  • They want to highlight their online presence through the niche you represent and write about
  • They are your parents, siblings or friends who would share anything you post just because they love you and cannot resist that

So if you provide any of the above mentioned reasons people are definitely going to share and promote your content (although the last point may not have much business value but it doesn’t mean it is not important) and be affected by that.


Moving away from SEO

How important is SEO to SEM today? Is SEO losing the edge? Are small businesses finally breaking free from the power of SEO and getting recognition still? Are we moving away from the obsession with SEO? Some intriguingly different questions indeed!

SEM rules still

The number of online customers making their purchases is continually on the rise. One click opens the virtual store and shows a range of products and services and all the information needed and another click clinches the deal most satisfying mutually. Today internet marketing is very much in; SEM rules the roost.

Importance of SEO

Until now, SEM blended the free SEO and the PPC to increase the exposure of any website. Search engine marketing campaigns all focussed on search engine optimization with keywords or increasing the pay per click – again on a key-word related ad. And SEO was the favourite all round. SERPs, Meta tags, keywords, keyword-rich contents, SEO keywords and keyword research – these words seem to be resonating in the web writing world. The first advice to any freelance writer is still ‘learn all about SEO.’

A Change is on the way?

Maybe it looks like things are changing, albeit slowly, but steadily. No, no, the SEM is here to stay and keywords and keyword-rich contents are all still the way to go. But maybe a day will come when search engine ranking or search engine optimization will not be the ruling factors to define the success of a website. Google has developed systems which are not SERP controlled and which are giving more attention to small businesses with far better analytics. Now the trend is moving beyond just the search engines and the search is on to find and nurture customers on social media – on networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Importance of Social Networks

Today, social media is gaining more importance and relevance in the search world. Search engines are incorporating media status updates into their search results – kind of a mixture of search and social media! So Digg, Delicious, Facebook and Twitter – where people like to belong to, are gaining importance and status updates on these sites influence the ratings. Already Google and Bing ratings are linked with social media site postings.

How to attract Social Users?

Quality content! Quality content is the only way to go. Make the content attractive enough and there will be enough flies to flock to the honey! Content that gives answers to their search, content that provides solutions, content that pen-pictures the product and content that will stir the consumer’s interest will make the visitor come away satisfied and eager to go back to and recommend to friends. Original and quality content will increase conversion.

Google’s definition of need for quality content is illuminating – “Delivering high quality, informative and well constructed content is what differentiates you from your competition and defines your web presence.”

Adding fresh content will keep the visitors come a visiting to the site. RSS feeds and even videos can be used to keep the content up-to-date. But unique and web-product relevant content should dominate the site. Quality and high-value content will be the major force to sell the products.

Will SEO be one day really obsolete?

Definitely not! Already the algorithms are changing. Blog-driven links and social-media tagging are taken due notice by the search engines. Google is also implementing personalization. Actually a highly efficient SEO never just is counting keywords or their placement. It recognizes the value of good and quality content. Compelling to read and easy-to-find content will truly be the king and SEO will revel in it.


Instilling confidence and trust with your copy

This excellent post at Copyblogger talks about imaginary trolls that stop your customers and clients from doing business with you.

It is a bad, bad world isn’t it? Especially so on the Internet where every unscrupulous element can quickly set up a website and start executing his or her spurious activities to deprive you of your money. The situation is worsened by the fact that the Internet has no geographical boundaries and it is not bound by local jurisdictions. So someone in America can easily cheat someone in India and vice versa.

As rightly mentioned in the Copyblogger link, we are all haunted by our previous experiences whenever we want to buy something or subscribe to something. The imminent fraud is amplified when money is involved; you feel more stupid when you pay for something that you don’t get.

A person trying to sell a product or service on the Internet has to overcome a greater challenge compared to the actual world. On the Internet the only mode of communication is your website. You are not just fighting with mistrust you are also fighting with a zillion distractions. In order to the business on the Internet your website copy has to:

  • Engage the prospect
  • Dispel his or her fears and apprehensions
  • Lead him or her to carry out the transaction

How can you do that?

Have lots of quality content

The first thing that you can do is have lots of quality content on your website. Having lots of quality content on your website means that you are really putting your money and effort where your mouth is. You will put so much effort only if you are serious about your work and feel confident about delivering.

Aside from establishing a sense of confidence high quality content also helps you attract targeted traffic from search engines, blogs and social media websites.

Provide all possible solutions

When a prospect arrives at your website he or she is full of questions not only regarding what he or she wants but also regarding how well you can deliver. You need to answer all the questions your visitor can possibly come up with. Take for instance these questions:

  • Are you for real? Display your contact information prominently. A photograph may also help. A regularly updated blog is quite reassuring and if you are constantly interacting with your visitors, nothing like it. Create a strong social media presence so that your customer or client knows that your reputation is at stake if you don’t perform.
  • Is my money safe? How do I make sure that I will receive the product or the service once I have paid? Properly explain this procedure on your website and also clearly specify what your refund policy is in case something bad happens and the customer is unable to receive the product on the service.
  • Are you easily reachable? Make sure that you are just one call away in case the customer or the client needs to call you.

There might be many more questions; it depends on the kind of product or service you are providing.

Put visitors’ interest first

Okay, this reminds me to change my copy to (I am constantly learning and sometimes I teach myself). Highlight benefits instead of features. Handle the most pertinent question in the very beginning: what is the greatest benefit of your product or service? For instance, if I write your copy how is it going to benefit your business or your presence on the Internet? There are two things I am confident about:

  • Increasing your conversion rate
  • Writing search engine optimized content to increase your search engine rankings

Now, a person shouldn’t be bothered about how well I write and how I can juggle around words and how well-read I am. Can I really solve your problem? If you want to increase your conversion rate can I achieve that for you through my copywriting services? If you want more traffic from search engines can I do that?

Put your visitors’ interest first instead of blowing your own horn and feeling gung ho about what a great offer you have got.

What do your existing customers and clients have to say about you and your business?

For this you need a testimonials page where you publish all the great things your customers and clients have to say about you and your business. In fact your testimonial page is one of the most important aspects of your website.

The basic idea is that your copy should communicate a sense of trustworthiness and accountability.