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Frantic over Organic
Obsessing over Search Rankings


At the turn of the 21st Century, there was an explosion in information and the way it was delivered. Advertising firms, marketing organizations and businesses of every type across the globe needed to adjust their thinking and strategies moving forward. The Internet was changing the way everyone exchanged information and did business everyday, and it was really starting to show (this time).

Winning (new) companies were sprouting up all over, profits were being made, conversion was key, spam was out, traffic was on the increase and so were online sales. There was a belief that anyone could be successful online, your company size and wallet did not determine your placement or success online. Just show up in the first two pages of Yahoo!™, and you were in business… (Google™ came later). The cost of Internet entry was certainly not prohibitive.

After a little while came PPC Advertising (Pay-Per-Click), what a concept... You select search terms or keyword phrases in the likes of Google™ and Yahoo!™ and you get placed at the top of the search results when anyone searches using those terms. If they “click” on your link, you pay a predetermined amount. Hmmm, it seems to me that this puts the corporations with big pockets at the top again… but has it really?

 

It would also make sense that, as those terms/phrases increase in cost (based on bidding and popularity), that lower profits are the potential. Oh, and you do get some Branding effect from this activity as well – exposure, market awareness, etc. However, ALL of your customers do come from the same basket – paid search. What happens when your online company stops their PPC Ad campaign? Are you virtually out of business? Does it account for 90% of your online sales? Now it’s your business that’s starting to sound similar to Google™.  The biggest benefit of PPC (IMO) is that results can be almost instant.

There are people (we call them visitors/ surfers/ prospects), that know these “sponsored PPC links” are paid advertising, and there are surfers who do not even know there is a difference in the results they are seeing (organic vs. ppc links – it’s true). Some will not click on paid links because they have come to realize that those results are not necessarily the best content or even the most relevant websites to their search query. Some never click on paid links, but millions do.

One irritating and costly downside? - Click Fraud. Yep, the practice of your competitors clicking on your “ad links” just to cost you money. That’s silly, why is it we can’t cure this? Qualified visitors (?), click-throughs you technically paid for - that never landed on your website (O.K., they landed, but they didn’t stay, or look around, and had no intention of buying). A refund scenario of 10 to 47% of our annual online ad budget does not propel their stock value.

Through 2005, businesses discovered that a long-term multi-faceted marketing approach was necessary to succeed online. Buzzwords were abound like “PPC”, “keyword phrases”, “search engine optimization”, “organic search results”, and “SERPS” (search engine results/ranking pages served). We have link farms, aging delays, and even play in a “sandbox”. This was a time for intense analysis. Growing log files with too much information, leaving room for outright misinterpretation. Panic from your web people with every Google™ algorithm update whisper.

Even the inexperienced webmaster knew when there was some “search engine update” happening by watching their ranking reports and log file statistics, visiting the forums, or even reading today’s newspapers. Like futureware (software & hardware coming attractions), these updates are given nicknames like “Bourbon” or “Jagger” and can be multi-phase or multi-part updates, these updates should not be confused with the Google™ Dance – another story altogether.

The bottom line is that these algorithm updates wreak havoc with some webmasters and their website(s) based on the techniques that were used or new algorithm values or de-values that were once considered ‘popular’ or have evolved with time. What webmasters thought they did to “optimize” their pages, has suddenly been found (filtered) to be “less relevant” than they had anticipated & intended. Instead of focusing on the user and improving the actual content on the pages (site), they put effort into what they “thought” the search engines were looking for (at that time). Some of these firms then find themselves falling in their historic organic rankings (by 10 to 300 positions), or they do not find their company ranking well at all anymore for that search term or  phrase. – There is a better approach, in my opinion.

Many webmaster’s and even some suggested SEO professionals fear these updates. You should be aware that the top 3 search engines are going through updates all the time. Why would you be afraid? Our company and clients actually look forward to these “updates”.

 

As is the intent, with every update some ‘cleaning house’ takes place in these directories and the ramifications are generally swift at a minimum. It helps our client sites to have some of the “fluff” being removed from the resource directory, or put in their proper perspective based upon the new algorithm criteria. What I mean is, if the update was newly filtering some spammy sites or relevancy issues… it could be likely that some websites above mine in the rankings for my keywords got removed or moved down or out – which effectively moves my website up that many positions. It is important to note that we made no edits to our website to invoke this recent increase in our rankings. You can actually see this take place using “before and after” update testing.

You have a good website with good content and good ease of use, you are a leader in your industry and you show everyone why, right within your website – so your website IS the leader in its field online. All of your offline marketing activities also promote this fact. Now you work to convert that good content into great content and continue to add relative content, constantly improving conversions and much more.  All of which increases your links, popularity, authority and ultimately qualified traffic.  Did I mention some patience is required? Expectations should be set realistically, and it should be a long-term marketing approach to winning online.

Diversify your online marketing activities and budget.  You can still “Own your Category Online!”  You have qualified traffic coming in from so many different “resources” that a single hiccup in one area does not impact your bottom line so negatively.  Stable growth.

Starting today, take the presence you have online and improve upon it. This is your business; one of the goals is to build it. Take some time to learn the web page marketing fundamentals, implement them without prejudice (always considering the human user), get your website linked up with other “like types” (per page), making your business a part of your Industry hubs online. Donate a worthwhile article or two, and drop a press release with your new product release information and USP’s. You will find these suggestions to be quite successful over the long term.

No amount of prayer or sacrifice to the Search Engine Gods will work. With a positive “white hat – human user” mindset, and successful implementation of good “Titles” to your great content plus a comprehensive “sitemap” page linked from your home page, mixed in with all your other promotions, - you really don’t have to “worry” about Search Engine and Directory updates. You may even find yourself looking forward to future updates. Because when these concepts are implemented properly you are much less vulnerable to periodic hiccups in organic search ranking – which, in some cases – can, and has - put people literally out of business online.  Surviving, or even flourishing online using only Pay-Per-Click as your total online marketing plan (or 75% of it), has many pitfalls besides just the increasing costs.

Try leaving some great content alone for 60 or 90 days (continuing external promotions and link building, of course). You can begin seeing more upward ranking trends even with the algorithm changes taking place.  Based upon years of our client’s statistics and continued ranking results, we are simply sharing some concepts, that above all, - have proven successful in organic ranking endurance within the search engines. These concepts do not include the frantic worry and (over) reaction that could actually hinder your organic website ranking results with tomorrow's updates.

Oh yeah, one more thing - anyone clicking on our organic links a thousand times? - does not cost us a penny.

Good Luck Everyone!

- Scott Sedwick

Written by and Copyright
© Scott Sedwick
www.hyperformancemedia.com

 

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