When bloggers talk about Google, it’s rarely a positive conversation. Many of us depend on Google for referrals, and when they change their search algorithm we have to change tactics. Yet the blogger talk at Affiliate Summit East this year featured a new level of negativity. Google’s latest updates have us all frustrated, combined with a user shift to mobile search and content discovery.
We can adapt our strategies to counterbalance these changes. Here are three ways to keep up with these modern search changes and keep the traffic flowing.
1. Focus on social
When we lose referrals from Google, what can we do? If you rely on content marketing for leads, social might be a way to boost referrals. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter might not provide quite the referral volume of Google, but the leads are a bit more qualified. The virtual word-of-mouth nature of social shares boost the value of those leads.
One of my sites has seen our Twitter referrals grow so rapidly that they will soon overtake Google. At the same time we’re seeing a lower bounce rate and higher time spent on the site. Needless to say we’re putting most of our marketing efforts with social right now.
2. Grassroots link building
The days of buying links is pretty much over. Penguin cracked down on those link networks that helped boost rankings. Even text ad services have come under fire with this latest search update. It’s time to find a new strategy. If you want backlinks, you’re going to have to work for them. That’s kind of what I’m doing right here.
Many blogs take guest posts. They’ll offer you a do-follow backlink if you provide them high-quality material. That means taking hours out of your day to develop each link. But when the alternatives are shady link building that could get you penalized, or no link building at all, it’s a no-brainer. Backlinks are valuable assets; spending time to acquire them puts them at market value.
Grab your smartphone right now and run a search for one of your keywords. What do you see atop the screen? Chances are it’s one or two (maybe three) AdWord spots. This goes for even the modern wave of larger smartphones. I tried searches on both the 3.5-inch iPhone 4 and the 5.0-inch T-Mobile Galaxy Note, and found similarly few results above the fold. Either way you’re seeing fewer organic results and proportionally more PPC spots.
Perhaps it’s time to play Google’s game. If they’re putting PPC front and center and we want to be there, we’ll have to pay up a bit. It can be a scary world, with plenty of downsides to experimentation and failure. But considering the prominent placement it can provide you, it might be worth that investment. If you want to protect your investment further, you can hire a PPC firm to take the reigns.