What should you do if your website traffic falls off a cliff?

“OMG Our Search Engine Rankings Have Died!!”

First off, it isn’t funny, at all.  It’s totally traumatic.

If you’ve enjoyed months or years of traffic for keywords relevant to your business and it’s switched off overnight, then it’s truly going to impact you and your business. You have bills to pay, staff salaries to maintain and the loss of traffic is often truly devastating.

Second, they were never really yours anyway. They were always going to be subject to the actions and whims of another for profit entity.

Unfortunately, when it comes to dumb algorithms, there’s little kindness involved. If your website hits the thresholds that say rank this domain lower then you need to take action to reverse those aspects that may be contributing to your misfortune.

The search engine guidelines set out what is and what isn’t acceptable. Hidden text, spammy links, keyword stuffing being 3 top level well known no no’s. There are however a myriad of other no no’s which are often fuzzy and hard to pin down. We need to understand that ultimately, search engines (generally) don’t earn money from sites that use effective SEO so it’s no surprise that they’d make it all a little bit of a minefield. It’s easy to say “Make the best site for your users” but with only 10 spots available to have for each query, it’s understandable that companies and site owners will push the envelop a little to get ahead. It’s this process that often trips folks up which can often lead to ranking catastrophes. FUD is a powerful tool in dissuading the allocation of marketing budget

It’s important to differentiate between penalties and algorithmic shifts of course. Penalties are manually applied  whereas algorithmic shifts like Penguin  and Panda are changes to the way pages are scored.

What to do if your search rankings have disappeared overnight?

If you know what you are doing then it’s pretty academic. Why are you even here reading this?

If you don’t know what you are doing then don’t waste your time trying to figure it out.

You. Will. Drive. Yourself. Mad.

Employ an experienced seo specialist to look at the situation for you.

Algorithmic Search Engine Penalties

They should know if there has been a recent major algorithm change and will look at your website analytics to see if your traffic fall coincides with an algorithm change. If it does, then it’s usually either due to a Penguin or a Panda update.

If your website has been affected by Panda, then it is perceived to have a page quality issue. These might be due to spammy or thin content issues, or machine generated content that is considered to be of low quality.

Your appointed specialist should be able to honestly appraise your site and be frank enough to tell you that it’s lacking in quality.

If your website has been affected by Penguin, then you have a so called back link quality issue.

A backlink quality issue relates to the quantity and quality of the number of links to your website.

Sites that have acquired many links at once for example might be seen to be manipulating their link profile. Sites with lots of so called ‘money’ keywords in their anchor text might be another.

In the circumstances outlined; you’ll need to begin the process of fixing your sites on and off site issues.

The good news is that your appointed specialist will be able to help identify these and help you with a way forward, the bad news is that you’ll often have to wait until the algo has updated or refreshed before your site reappears for your keywords. Even then, there are no guarantees as with penguin for example, the link cleaning process may even remove links that offered value whilst retaining those that hamper. It’s critical therefore, to ensure that you use someone who has experience with these and the tools that help identify them

Manual Search Engine Penalties

In some cases, websites receive so called ‘Manual‘ penalties. These are applied by search engineers for what would be in their view egregious manipulation of the algorithm. There have been many cases of these over the years for all manner of organisations. They are a good PR tool for search engines as they send out the message that they are watching for exploitation of their resource and will punish those who try it on.

The good news is that you can clean things up and submit a re-inclusion requests whereby a search engine will review what you’ve done and reinstate your domain in search. The not so good news is that they may refuse it and ask you to try harder.

A friendly suggestion on the way forward

Finally, regardless of whether you have or have not had an issue; perhaps it’s time to take a long hard look at what you do and really ask yourself some honest questions around your content marketing efforts.

The web is only going to get more competitive, to rely on big profit driven corporations for non paid for sustenance is a little bit mad really.

The proliferation of platforms that are taking market share will only continue to grow. People are using an ever increasing level of device and apps to access information. Desktop PC’s, Laptops, Phones, Tablets, Phablets, Watches,  TV’s – Search engines are cannibalising content to keep users on site, social media platforms are doing the same pulling folks away from search engines in the process, maybe it’s time to act like search engines didn’t exist even; become the destination for your niche, be the best.

Good luck.

 

Holistic 360 Internet Marketing Are You Doing It too? Search..

Holistic Search Marketing

It’s been ages since I wrote anything anywhere near interesting or controversial so I thought I’d sit down and have a go and see where it leads me. 🙂

We often hear the word ‘holistic’ bounded about these days. Increasingly (and rightly so) companies are looking to connect the dots and put together the various pieces of their marketing puzzles.

The challenge for many is that they aren’t quite sure themselves, they are looking for people and companies who can sit down and explain to them what fits where and why.

How Does PPC affect Organic CTR’s?

Just recently I was having a discussion about PPC and it’s relationship with SEO in the SERPs, specifically, does a PPC listing help organic clickthrough (CTR).

It was very late and I’d had quite a few beers and was very stuffed with Chinese food but even so, we managed to get to a point whereby we discussed a variety of other questions which such a question begged, namely that it depends on the vertical, the user, the PPC position, the Organic position, the brand, the creative etc.

In other words, there is no simple answer other than yes, quite probably. PPC helps organic CTR.

The Pie is big with lots of flavours

I used this example because it’s relatively fresh in my mind and has a natural segue to the core question. SEO and PPC are indeed just a part of the online marketing pie – there’s also Online PR, Social, Affiliate and Display too – All are related, very few large corps can do one without any of the others as there are lots of inevitable overlaps and blur lines – It’s right today in these frugal times that marketing managers looking to maximise the impacts of their budgets, should be asking probing questions like – Should you do one w/ out the other? What aspects of each inform the other? Where should they target their budget to get the most bang for their buck? How will you track ROI for them? Which piece of the pie will deliver the most? Yet answers to these aren’t always as clear cut or as straightforward as we’d like. Many of them require scrutiny and analyses of the pieces used and the pieces that are likely to come into play. Not many big corps still really *get* online. Many struggle with the idea of a unified strategy, preferring to go with the segment that’s the most tried and tested.

No surprise there either, why would they direct positive ROI spend anywhere else – it’s all about ROI after all Rob you dummy!

Well yes and no. Yes because absolutely, if company X invests 100k and gets 300k of sales from a single Channel then the jobs a winner, it’s a no brainer, right? Yet no, because to do so is to take ones eye off of the ever shifting fluidity of the other channels out there. 2k On PR could deliver 50k worth of Organic Serp positions, as could 10k invested into Affiliate, Display or PPC. Whilst it’ll usually be on a case by case basis, there will be very few scenarios where wholesale investment in one channel would be a sensible online strategy.

Some of you reading this might be asking, “yeah ok, but what about offline” and of course you’d be right to ask too! Why wouldn’t a good agency consider offline, they’d be mad to ignore the impact of a good TV, Radio or Paper Media campaign. Your agency or individual (if they were any good) should be falling over themselves to get access to your analytics package to advise upon strategy or to demonstrate past impacts through retrospective analyses.

Yet how many today do? How many companies can actually sit down and give a coherent definitive overview and strategy and deliver on budget? My guess is not too many. It’s a good reason why that on many projects, you’ll find quarterly or monthly inter agency reviews, whereby agency A will sit down with client and agency B, C and D and all attempt to discuss the strategy w/ out giving away too much IP to probable or likely competitors. Yet for the companies who can provide that full 360 overview, who can clearly demonstrate how and why doing X will deliver Y to the bottom line, who can clearly show how aspect XXX strengthens the position of strategy component Z, the benefits and potentials to win new business is huge.

To state the obvious, it’ll be the companies who are demonstrating these traits and abilities who’ll grab the most market share – companies who invest in their people and think outside of the box with experience and insights are the ones who forward thinking businesses will want to trade with. Businesses that recognise that having six or seven different relationships to manage is a whole lot more time consuming and draining than one.

Companies like the one I work for (plug plug) who can step up and deliver, should do really well as a result. 🙂