Marketing Consultant & Fractional CMO

Doing the Google Dance

by | Apr 2, 2005 | Marketing

If you run a website, you may have noticed that your Google rankings dancing around over the past few weeks. Is this the end of the world as we know it?

Google wields enormous power over the economy. When a Google developer tweaks a formula, thousands of businesses can be affected. In their most recent update, both this site and my business site (Forty Media) plummeted in the rankings. Searching for “Forty Media” will bring you right to our site in almost every search engine except—as of a few weeks ago—Google.

I’m not complaining, though. It’s a shame that my own endeavors are suffering, but I would never suggest that Google do anything other than try to provide the best search results they can.

Quality hurts. There will be collateral damage. Lots of innocent business will suddenly realize that nobody’s finding their site anymore. The other side of the issue that doesn’t get much discussion, though, is that the traffic may instead be going to other sites that are generally better.

Before you get slighted by the world’s favorite search engine, there are a few important things that you can do to prevent the search engine dance from damaging your own business:

  • Don’t panic. You may have seen some initial ranking success with your new site, but that’s probably because Google is running it up and down to get a feel for where it belongs. After that initial success, you’ll likely be “sandboxed” for weeks or even months. Success takes time. You’ve got to pay your dues.
  • Don’t depend on Google. Instead, work on getting linked to from sites that can send relevant traffic your way. (Very little of our traffic has historically come from Google, so this is only an annoyance for us—not a crisis.)
  • Don’t cheat. “Search engine optimization” can mean either mean “optimizing your site for content focus and accuracy” or “trying to convince engines that your poop smells like roses.” One is a valid, effective, and ethical technique. The other is sleaze, and search engines put a lot of money into making sleazemongers suffer. Make sure you know the difference before hiring an SEO specialist (or trying it yourself).

Of course, sometimes there’s something genuinely wrong, and you’ve got to take major corrective action. Paul “Man with the Plan” Scrivens recently went through this, as his site Big Money Tips was being thoroughly ignored by the big G. He sat it out for ages, and never got out of the sandbox. Considering how much link and traffic weight his other sites have, it was obvious that something was seriously wrong. So, he dropped a few bucks on a new domain name, and relaunched the site as Work Boxers.

It probably took him a fair amount of work, and he may well be re-sandboxed for a while, but these are the sacrifices we make to the search engine deity.

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