For a long time now SEO has always been about linkbuilding, linkbuilding and, well, more linkbuilding. That ABC formula, ok, rather AAA formula, served many well for years. In fact that was what Google’s algorithm wanted to see and so that’s what we and many others gave them. Today the AAA formula still works, but now it’s Authority, Authority and more Authority that Google wants to see. In fact, they’ve really turned the SEO world upside down the past few months. Something tells me that that is exactly what they wanted to do.
Links and domination
The fact is that that the same old linkbuilding domination rules apply today as they always have, sort of. You see those same rules about the necessity of links still hold true but they are governed by the authority that your site possesses. Let me explain.
In the past authority was not so important because it could always be trumped by links. In fact, even relatively new sites could get into Google’s graces quickly by pumping up their perceived importance through linkbuilding. Today that same approach will get your site penalized for months and perhaps significantly enough where you should consider just abandoning it entirely.
That’s because today Google applies its algorithm differently. In fact, it’s not just an algorithm anymore. Recently Google is on record as saying that both Panda and Penguin are not dynamic algorithms at all but rather a “penalty” and periodic data push/update.
Panda & Penguin – Penalty or Algo Change?
In other words, if you were hit by Panda or Penguin you have been penalized (yes, this is different than what was originally thought and/or disclosed – or is it? Who really knows with Google anymore, which version of the truth should you believe? Or any at all?). There is no guarantee on this, but so far Google has been doing data refreshes on Panda and/or Penguin about once a month.
What this means is that even if you correct everything on your site you may still remain penalized for a month (or more) until such time as Google pushes out a new refresh on the Panda/Penguin penalty. Many believe that they can just make some quick changes and get away from the algo, but it really doesn’t work that way.
How to recover?
Now, it doesn’t mean you can’t recover, it just means that you have to be patient because it’s not going to happen overnight and you’re not going to know if the changes you made are effective for perhaps a month or more. At which point, if they were not effective in getting you out of the penalty, you’ve got another month or more that you should expect to wait before the next data refresh.
Authority sites, however, have suffered very little in these last few updates. The reason is that they are insulated by the authority they have. Authority doesn’t necessarily just mean that they have a million links, it means that they have a very wide base of traffic and sophisticated linkbuilding profile that adequately insulates and camouflages them from the things that Google is nit-picking about nowadays.
Building Authority should be your main goal going forward and we will be talking a lot about that in the next few weeks, so stay tuned.
So what to do?
Well there never is a “one size fits all” answer, but here are some things you may wish to consider. First off, let me say that these are not long term solutions or even strategic responses, but rather they are short term tactical approaches that may (or may not) help you recover some of your income while you still try to figure out your main issues with your site.
The approach is one of hedging your bet and diversification. The goal is that you should consider doing this in parallel with the other efforts you have underway to improve your primary site and “recover” from it’s penalty. These ideas, however, will not make sense for everyone, so just take a look at them and see if they might make sense in your situation.
Plan for the worst
This first approach is really hedging your bet and making the drastic assumption that your site is beyond recovery and will never regain its traffic. Now we hope this is not the case, but we’re going to proceed in parallel as if it were.
If your main site is truly “gone”, then what would you do? Well, the first thing would be to create a new site in your same niche – so let’s do that. The idea here is to compete against yourself and start fresh on a new site that has no negative “baggage” attached to it.
Take advantage of this fresh start and do some of the things you’ve wanted to do all a long or make some changes that you couldn’t do on your previous site. Perhaps you were never in love with your design or perhaps you wanted to rebrand yourself slightly, etc… now is your chance.
The most important thing that you should focus on is getting fresh quality content up on your new site and not doing any active linkbuilding. You should, however, focus on content syndication strategies and leverage your content as best as possible distributing it out to podcasts, youtube, social channels, document sharing sites, etc…
Keep in mind that the goal here is not just linkbuilding but also to bring in some traffic from many different sources. Each source taken individually might not contribute much traffic, but casting a wide net can bring you some real traffic over time as all of those small individual sources begin to add up. And guess what? Doing this is exactly what leads to creating high authority.
As you’re progressing with this strategy, ask yourself one important question and make it the focus of your entire approach:
“What would you do if Google didn’t exist? How would you market your product and services? How would you go about getting traffic?”
While that may seem like cavalier advice, it’s actually golden. Take some time and really think about that. Think about how you would redesign your business to make money if it couldn’t get a single solitary person to come to it from Google. If you solve that puzzle you’ll be lightyears ahead of your competition and will skyrocket your income in short order.
Ignore and Prosper…
Yes, we’re actually telling you to IGNORE GOOGLE and simply try to build your site up without them. Now, we’re not being dramatic here nor flippant. You should still design your site and content in a manner that positions you for maximum potential success with Google. However, what we’re suggesting is that you do not rely on it – that you make it happen WITHOUT Google and whatever you get from them will be bonus.
While it may sound unrealistic, this may actually be the best thing that ever happened to your business. By taking this approach you will be forced to find other ways to grow your traffic, you’ll be forced to go “old school” and build your business differently. Here’s the real irony. What you’ll find is that by doing this, you’ll actually begin to get good rankings along the way and increased traffic from Google as well. Yeah, silly right? Ignore Google and it will reward you – but it’s true.
What happens is that by going “old school” and completely ignoring Google, they will see that you’re getting traffic and attention and that it is NOT from them. Guess what that means? It means that you have AUTHORITY within your niche and that people are actively seeking you out from several channels and that, remember, is what they’re looking for in the first place.
This is a parallel effort
Now remember, this is a parallel effort and you’re not ignoring your main site either. If you can get it to recover from its penalty you will have the best of both worlds. You may also find along the way that it’s simply not worth going back to your old site – that will totally depend upon your situation, of course and where you are along your path of Internet marketing.
Don’t be surprised if along the way of creating your brand-new site you start to develop quite a bit traffic and sales even early on. The fact is that we’ve seen some very good success recently with very new sites and high-quality content that’s focusing on doing things the right way and almost completely ignoring link building.
Now when I say doing things the right way I don’t mean that all you have to do is write great content and the floods of traffic will come in obviously that myth doesn’t work. You still have to engage your users in multiple ways and social signals still play a very strong part of that equation and getting quality rankings. As we said earlier it’s really all about authority today and building that authority through multiple channels of syndication of your content – doing so can be very effective even on a new site.
Tactic or Strategy?
So while I said earlier that this is a short-term tactic, the reality is that it may turn into a long-term solution for you. Sometimes there simply too much damage done to your site to try to recoup it and starting fresh is the best way to go. Just keep in mind that if you have a large authority site and it has been severely damaged that the timeframe that you are willing to allow to transpire to recoup that traffic is probably a longer than if you have a small niche site–in the end it’s all been in the up to you to make that determination.
But either way it doesn’t hurt to start a new site and compete against yourself and start to see if you can bring in traffic and sales through that site. If your existing site recovers, great! But if it doesn’t, well, then you’ve already started the ball rolling to create a new solution to your traffic problem.
The Second Approach
Now this is idea is also a parallel effort. In fact, you can do both of these two approaches at once and see which pans out for you. Neither will likely replace your full income loss from a severely penalized site, but hopefully they can recoup some of your income and keep you afloat while you get it solved.
More than that, however, they are also just sound business practices to enhance your reach and exposure within your niche. Sometimes turmoil is the best thing that can happen to us because it forces us to look at things in a different way. When things get tough you really only have two responses – knuckle down and get creative, or give up. The latter is not an option (not for us anyway).
Method Number 2
The first approach above of creating a new site is really more long-term and strategic. We have, however, seen that it is possible to get some quick rankings with a brand new site and quality content – we’ve done it ourselves in the past couple of months. However, like I said, it’s not going to replace your old site quickly and will likely take time to achieve that level.
This second method, however, is about getting some quick results now and is much more tactical and not something you can expect to build a long-term sustainable business around – that’s not the goal here. The intent is just to recoup some of your income and stay afloat long enough to either (a) recover your main site or (b) grow you new site as outlined in method one above.
What we’re going to do here is target very long tail keywords in your niche and create a bunch of feeder sites for those long tail keywords using a combination of either
(a) exact match domains or
(b) high authority web 2.0 properties.
Both can work well and both have their benefits and drawbacks, so we would actually recommend a mixture of each approach.
Do not target your primary keywords as you will likely not rank for those, you want to go after very long tail keywords that have little competition (yes, I know, they won’t have a lot of traffic either, but we have to grab what we can, this is triage). We use these feeder sites to then send that traffic back to our main site to convert to sales and drive traffic despite the poor rankings.
Exact match domains
Now, EMD’s (exact match domains) are still working very well in Google right now, so even though your domain will be new and not have a lot of authority it should rank relatively quickly if you’re targeting long tail, low competition keywords. Keep in mind, this is a ‘tactic’ and not a long-term viable business strategy because at any point Google could devalue EMD’s and the benefits would evaporate overnight. So you don’t want to put a lot of stock or trust in this – this is meant to simply be triage and get some traffic and sales back to your main site.
Web 2.0 properties can be used intelligently to suck the authority from their domain and leverage it to rank your page quickly. Sites that work well are sites like Squidoo lenses, TypePad blogs, Blogger blogs, etc… You do not want to spend a lot of time on these, they’re just meant to be small sniper sites. So you don’t need to come back to them and keep building them out, etc… unless it makes sense based on the traffic and/or sales that they’re getting. The real intent here is to get a high volume of them out there on a ton of your long tail keywords and try to get some traffic back via their leveraged rankings and send that traffic to your primary site to convert to sales.
I know that neither of these approaches may be the quick fix that you’re looking for, but the fact is we’re not going to BS you. You are likely in this situation because you were going for the quick fix of aggressive linkbuilding in the first place. Today you have to shift your mindset. You have to take a new approach to your SEO and just doing what you always did will NOT work in today’s SEO environment.
Rather than focusing on links so much, focus more on your content, your site size (how many posts you have), engaging your users, viral linkbuilding, promotions to keep people engaged, contests and giveaways to attract new visitors, old school advertising with related sites and blogs, paid traffic, content syndication to numerous channels (podcasting, kindle ebooks and reports, youtube videos, free ebook sites, document sharing sites, tutorial sites, how to sites, etc…), guest blogging to build both relevant links and drive traffic as well as high quality blog comments on related sites and niches.
Will any of those items by themselves bring boatloads of traffic? Probably not. But what they will do is bring very targeted traffic from a lot of different sources and reduce your reliance on any one form of traffic. They also get your name out there (or your site’s brand) and start building that coveted authority that your site desperately needs to be effective online today.