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The Art of Not Panicking When Google has an Update

Link Building CampaignIt’s only too common: A successful website with consistent rankings suddenly sees a drop in their SERPs. All of a sudden, all hell breaks loose. Bosses are screaming at employees, employees are making frantic phone calls, sys admins are reconfiguring code and everyone becomes hysterically panicked.

On a certain level, panicking seems to make sense. After all, your business is in jeopardy. If you suddenly lose your rankings, you’re going to lose a lot of traffic. That could put the business in danger. But on a more rational level, taking frantic action is one of the worst things you could do in this situation.

Why Frantic Decisions Are a Bad Idea SEO Decision Making

When you make decisions too quickly, you don’t take into account all the different variables. You address the problem from an angle that may not be right.

For example, when Google Panda came out, many webmasters that got hit, hit the panic button. They started desperately changing things in their code, in their site layout, etc to try to get their rankings back. In reality, at that point nobody really understood what Google Panda even was yet.

Webmasters who waited for more information were rewarded. First, they didn’t change anything they didn’t have to. They kept their heads cool and continued to run their business as normal. Once people learnt more about the Panda or the Penguin updates, webmasters were able to take specific actions to get their rankings back. In some cases that involved removing blackhat links, submitting reconsideration requests or removing scraped content.

When Rankings Break, Here’s What to Do

SEO RankingsWhen a ranking goes down, most people’s first reaction is to get really, really scared. But have you asked yourself: Just how significant is this drop?

For many businesses, Google is just one traffic source. It’s the most revered and the most sought after, yes, but it’s still just one traffic source. It might only account for 30% of your traffic. If you start frantically changing things around because Google decreased your rankings, there’s a good chance you’ll alienate the other 70% of your traffic.

If your Google rankings suddenly drop, the first thing you should do is review your traffic sources and see exactly how this is going to impact your bottom line. If your business is not 100% tied to Google, then take things slow. Learn about the situation before making rash decisions. Spend some time on search engine blogs and forums to see if other people are experiencing the same thing.

If Your Only Traffic Source is Google… Google Search Engine

If over 90% of your traffic comes from Google, you have a bigger problem than dropped rankings. You have a fundamentally unstable business. Remember: Google is a search engine with an ever changing algorithm. If your livelihood and the long term sustainability of your business is tied to Google’s whims, then a catastrophe is going to happen sooner or later.

The solution is to diversify your traffic sourcesBefore you get hit by a Google slap.

Look into paid traffic sources, including PPC, media buying, co-registration leads, direct mail and so on. Look into other sources of free traffic, including joint ventures, speaking engagements or starting your own affiliate program.

Getting traffic from Google is fantastic, but you shouldn’t base your business around it. Having a diverse array of traffic sources will allow you to weather any shifts in the Google algorithm.

Work on Fundamentals, Not the Latest Algorithm Hack

Trying to use the latest “get ranked in Google secret” every time Google changes their algorithm is like trying to chase the end of a rainbow. You’re never going to catch it and you’ll always be running.

Instead of looking for shortcuts, create a fundamentally strong strategy to get ranked in Google. Instead of relying on quick ranking tactics, build a business that Google would actually want to rank. This is your #1 protection against losing rankings.

All the quick-rank techniques have eventually gotten slapped. First it was keyword stuffing, then reciprocal linking, then blog comment spamming, so on and so forth. Every technique that doesn’t fundamentally build a solid website has gotten slapped and likely will in the future. So stop trying to chase shortcuts and start building a real company.

This is how to panic proof your business and your search engine rankings. The best plan is prevention. But if you do get hit, remember to take a deep breath and look objectively at what’s going on before you take any action.

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2 Responses to “The Art of Not Panicking When Google has an Update”

  1. Nick Stamoulis on September 20th, 2012 1:45 pm

    You bring up an excellent point about diversifying your marketing efforts. We can’t control the search engines and never know when they will make changes. The safest bet is to maintain a strictly white hat strategy but nothing is guaranteed. Utilize other marketing outlets to ensure that an algorithm update doesn’t completely destroy your profitability.

  2. Glenys Fossati on October 12th, 2012 10:31 pm

    great article and very informative. thank you

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