Bob Brooks rises from his seat to admit he’s been lazy about ensuring toilet monsters and wine bras from his gift site, BaronBob.com, rank highly in organic Google search results for “funny gifts” and “unusual gifts.”
“I got too comfortable,” discloses the Maywood N.J. businessman.
Dani Horowitz admits her information technology forum relied too much on just one search engine, resulting in her unique U.S.visitors dropping from 90,000 to 15,000 a day on Feb. 28—when the Google algorithm most recently changed.
“I don’t know what happened,” says Horowitz, founder and CEO of Uniondale, N.Y.-based IT discussion community DaniWeb.com.
What happened is known colloquially as Panda or Farmer, an update to the algorithm that ranks search results in Google. “[It’s] a change that noticeably impacts 11.8 percent of our queries,” wrote Google Fellow Amit Singhal and Principal Engineer Matt Cutts in the Feb. 24 Google Blog post “Finding More High-Quality Sites in Search.”
News sites such as mashable.com and msn.com gained traffic, while “content farms” with low-quality content lost visibility in double digit percentages, according to research by Marcus Tober of German-based search analytics company Searchmetrics. But more than media outlets were affected.
So a panel from SearchEngineWatch.com listened, consoled, attempted to put the issue in perspective and, primarily, provided advice on how marketers on the losing end of the change could try to make it right.
Moderator of the session’s panel, Mike Grehan, vice president and global content director of UK-based publisher Incisive Media, suggests marketers who lost ranking on search engine results pages stop and realize how good they’ve had it for as long as they have. After all, organic results were sending them business for free, he says. Eventually, both Horowitz and Brooks uttered a solemn “thank you” to Google for having helped provide their previous revenue levels.
There’s still hope for a return to visibilty, says SearchEngineWatch Associate Editor Danny Goodwin. “It’s been said that it’s going to be a month at least until they recrawl.” To help marketers make that happen, Grehan, panelists at the session and, from his spot in the Exhibit Hall, Tober provide advice on how marketers can attempt to get back in Google’s good graces:
Using the same principle as, “Never let your customer own more of your business than you do,” Grehan suggests marketers not rely so heavily on a third party, such as Google.
SearchEngineWatch Director Jonathan Allen says build links outside your site. “Go into all of your long-tail content” and figure out which links to turn into, for instance, “a cool widget.”
Along with site improvements aimed at recouping traffic, Horowitz says she’s been building up her company’s Facebook and Twitter presences and holding live events. “All my international traffic is up 30 percent,” she says. But the loss of US traffic is what’s really hurting her ad revenue.
An audience member from press release distributor Business Wire, headquartered in San Francisco and New York, says his company avoided linkfarming and spent 1.5 years building up its social media presence, adding sharing options and building legitimate links. When the algorithm change hit, Business Wire’s rankings improved and its main competitor dropped down.
Tober suggests marketers can also “optimize the news” by using social media, which comes up in Google’s real-time search results. A good title and description can get an unknown brand clicked on, and “Google has … high trust [for] news sites,” he adds. But, he cautions, watch the aggregation. Sites with too much of it got dinged. That happened to many content providers on Blogspot.com, and Tober says publishers who’d been listed in Google News, but had 40 percent to 50 percent aggregated content, got dropped.