If you’ve visited an internet marketing forum where website owners and SEO experts hang out then you can be forgiven for worrying about your own site after reading their horror stories. It’s only March and already Google has sent shock waves through the SEO world and there is more yet to come with the Google over optimisation penalty!
I thought I would spend a moment putting it all in perspective and answering some questions many of you have been asking me.
Will my rankings drop in 2012?
Rankings fluctuate all the time, even during different times of the same day! Google are shaking things up and creating what they call ‘bots’ that determine how a site should be ranked, they will never tell you the factors they use so be prepared for ranking drops, if you are prepared then you can deal with it accordingly.
Why would my rankings drop?
There are many reasons why your website rankings would drop, here are a few
- The ‘Google dance’ – This can be temporary ranking shift because your site is new, you have been doing link building or you have done some major onsite changes and the site needs time to stabilise.
- Release of new algorithms – To any non savvy person an algorithm is basically a ranking factor change. You have no control over these, it is nobody’s fault all you can do is reassess your site and talk to someone who is up to date with ranking factors. You can also gain knowledge yourself by reading Goggles published ranking factors http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35291
- ‘Unnatural links’ message in your Google webmaster tools account – I have only ever seen this message once on one site in all my years of being an internet marketer. A popular marketing forum has suggested Google have sent these messages out to 700,000 sites so far in 2012 (it’s only March). If you get this message don’t panic, you need to analyse your links to see if you have any dodgy ones. Dodgy links can be links you have gained from using automated software such as directory submitters, over commenting on forums and blogs or even just links from bad neighbors. Many sites who receive these messages profoundly proclaim they have clean links so don’t feel you are being targeted it could be as simple as the site you gained the link from was suddenly penalised and you will therefore be branded a bad neighbor.
How should I optimise my site in 2012?
In a nut shell you should optimise for your customers and not for the search engines.
SEO is about making a great page more ‘findable’, not tricking the search engines into thinking its great. You need to take a good look at your site and whenever you do anything whether its offsite or onsite think ‘would my customer like this’?
If you are link building don’t think about quantity, think about quality. A handful of links per week is more than enough, if your competitors are mass link building then leave them to it, they may have once experienced high rankings but Google are coming and if they are over doing it they will lose those top spots.
If you have been relying purely on natural search engine traffic for your website then you should consider changing your marketing strategy to include other internet marketing strategies then if you do get caught up in the big Google changes you wouldn’t have put all your eggs in one basket and your success can carry on.