How SEO Advice is Making People Go Bonkers Over Links!

How Google is Making People Paranoid About SEO

I wasn’t planning to blog today, but after reading at least two dozen emails in the past week about link removal requests, penalties, using the Google’s disavow tool and sheer confusion about search engine rankings, I want to share my thoughts and opinions.

One thing is very clear.  The Google updates in the last two years have caused all sorts of confusion, paranoia and outright madness for bloggers and webmasters.

If you get nothing else from this post, get this…

1) You MUST start treating Google traffic as a bonus instead of a necessity.

2) Trying to over-tweak your pages to please every algorithm update will make you nuts.

Need an overview of how search engine optimization works and what’s changed over the years?  Check this video.

Disavowing Links

OK, let’s start with Google’s disavow tool (here’s how to use it).

This was introduced about a year ago and using it was like telling Google, Hey, ignore these links pointing to my site.

This was also presented as a solution if you had manually created or bought links from low-quality or irrelevant sites that could now be harming your rankings.

The tricky part about the disavow tool is Google won’t tell you which sites are bad, and you won’t know if it worked right away.  You have to wait until the next link/Penguin algorithm rolls around.

So don’t expect Google to ever give you any kind of official confirmation about whether you disavowed the right links, or if this action had any impact at all.  You just have to wait it out.

On a side note, I have read very few success stories regarding this tool, especially in the last six months, so I’d love to hear your story if it has worked for you.

Now here’s where it gets REALLY tricky.

When the tool first launched, Matt Cutts warned us that we should use it very, very carefully and sparingly.

In fact, Matt seemed to suggest that the only people who should use the tool are those who received the unnatural link warning in their Google Webmaster Tools account.

The reason he warned you to be careful is some of those “questionable” links could actually be helping your site, so it might be difficult to know which links are helping or hurting.

I’ve scrubbed to that sound bite in the video below, so just hit PLAY to hear the snippet.

OK, fine.  Makes sense to me.

Then about a week ago, Matt Cutts released another video stating that you may want to proactively use this tool if you notice some strange-looking links pointing to your site in Google Webmaster Tools.

links

To Matt’s credit, he has always warned that this tool is for power users and should be used with caution.  But now it sounds like he is suggesting you use this whether or not you have a penalty or unnatural link notification in Google Webmaster Tools.

Click PLAY to hear that sound bite…

No disrespect to Mr. Cutts because he’s just doing his job.  But I now take these videos with a grain of salt.

I used to pay a lot more attention to his advice back in the day, but when I saw the video below where he suggested adding “nofollow” to links in sidebar widgets and infographics, that was the last straw for me.

To all the newbies reading this, when you want to tell Google to ignore a link to a specific site, you can add rel=”nofollow” to the link code to prevent from passing any “link juice” that could impact that site’s rank.  Popular sites like Twitter, Facebook, etc. assign nofollow to all their links to prevent link spam.

So as a result of the “nofollow widget” video above, I bet you can guess what started happening.

Now some people are searching for plugins to “nofollow” all links in their sidebars and even taking it to the extreme by making every link on their site nofollow because they fear the dreaded penalty.

Seriously?  Nofollow ALL links sitewide????  Yes, ladies and gents.  Based on emails I’ve been getting, this is an example of the kind of paranoia that exists today.

Here’s my stance…

If I want to link to someone’s website because it’s fabulous, I am going to give them the link juice they deserve.  That’s how the web is supposed to work.  I’m not going to worry about how Google is going to perceive it.

And I’m certainly not going to start policing other sites and worrying about how they are linking to mine.  Can you imagine that email?

Dear Blogger,

I really appreciate the link to my site, but could you please do me a favor and make that link from my infographic “nofollow” so Google doesn’t penalize me? Thanks!

Umm…. sorry, I’m just not going there.

Look, I respect Google’s effort to clean up spam on the Web, but at the same time a lot of the advice is causing sheer pandemonium and paranoia.

The other problem is that ranking drops you may assume are penalties, may just be a permanent algorithm change.  So you may be scrambling to fix something that isn’t even broken.  That’s what’s so tricky about search engine optimization today.

Sure, I keep up with the quality guidelines on a high level, but I refuse to get caught up in the nitpicky details of widget links, nofollow vs. dofollow, etc.

It will drive you nuts if you let it!


Comments

  1.  johnsmauldin

    I agree with you, Lisa, trying to cater to Google’s changes/whims will make you crazy. It is like a moving target. But think about it from Google’s perspective. I compare it to “walking down two sides of the street at the same time”. On the one hand, they do not want to inflame (is that a word?) web developers but at the same time, if you really could figure out what you had to do to appease Google and get to the top of rankings, why would you need Adwords, a major profit producer for Google?
    So your statement “1) You MUST start treating Google traffic as a bonus instead of a necessity.” is 100% correct. Unfortunately, there are many who can still “remember the days” when Google search was the “only” way to get traffic. Of course, I am sure there are LOTS of SEO guys who would love to have you continue to think this way because it keeps them in business.
    I might mention, Lisa, that if I had followed the “no-follow” rule you mention, the listing I just got in the fifth position on Google search would not have done me nearly as much good. There were 296 million competing pages for this keyword and I got the no. 5 position in three weeks using a social media source. So I am like you: Use common sense, don’t try to game the system and “listen” to Matt and others but don’t make it a driving force in your business or you will “end up in Terrell” (slogan associated with a city that housed mental patients for many years). JM

    •  2createawebsite

      I think that’s what makes it tough for so many. If you’ve been around long enough to remember how SEO used to work, it’s hard to wrap your brain around what’s happening sometimes.

      You want so desperately to “fix” what is wrong when in reality nothing may be wrong at all. The game has just changed…. for good.

    •  samkadya

      I agree with you guys it is time to stop focusing on pleasing google. Relying on google for traffic will just give you unnecessary heartaches everytime there is an algo update.

      I would rather discount the contribution of google to my traffic and work towards making sure that the other sources of traffic should earn me enough to meet my target income.As you have said google should jusst be seen as a bonus.

      I now focus on other ways of getting traffic to my blogs such as forum posting, social media etc.

  2.  MatthewPLudwig

    Absolutely agree Lisa. SEO is too much paranoia now. I’m one of the paranoid androids myself. My major client has been sticking with us for 18 months of penguin now. We have struggled using a very aggressive approach to the disavow tool, thousands of dollars spent on manual link removal requests and now setting up 410s to pages that had Potentially questionable links (FYI: a 410 tells the engine that a page on your site is completely gone) . It’s such a mess.

    My thoughts on disavow:
    1. as Lisa said, only use it if you receive a “manual webspam action” notice
    2. be aggressive by adding a lot of domains and disavow the entire domain: to save yourself time
    3. buckle up, be patient and get active in your niche community. Penguin updates every 6 months, spring and fall.

    My thoughts on Link removal strategies:
    1. If you do have a lot of the bad links pointing to a subpage. You can remove that page and start with a new one. Tell the engine the old page is gone and to ignore it, hence the links pointing inbound to it will be ignored in theory.
    2. If the links are pointing at your homepage, keep up a link removal campaign to get the ones removed that have your exact broad anchor 2-word phrases. (“nike shoes” or “dog collars” as examples)
    3. Work on gaining new +authoritative links from peers in your niche. I’m finding this to be fun in Google+ via conversations and communities. I’m seeing ranking progress via authorship. Bottomline, work on a presence in Google Plus and connect your authorship to your blog, to gain relationships and eventually links.

    Lisa, your “Hey Blogger” email hits home for me. I just sent that email to a tekkie who naturally added our training services to his blogroll, hence a sitewide dofollow link with our anchor phrase in it (we did not solicit him at all), and the page he pointed to dropped thanks to this ridiculous webspam game Cutts has overseen. So we are requesting he add a nofollow or remove the blogroll link and allow us to write a guest post for him… crazy stuff.

    We have to move on to driving traffic socially however we can, and let those signals and our authorship signals rank us accordingly in the post-apocalyptic SEO world where certain types of links are inherently suspicious instead of friendly like they used to be ;)

    Thanks for the solid update Lisa!

    •  2createawebsite

      You hit the nail on the head, Matt. Embracing social the way to go. Like I keep saying, relationships are the new backlinks. And even if those relationships don’t directly impact your rankings, you’re at least building connections that will be there no matter Google is up to.

  3.  thebrickblogger

    I have stopped paying attention to Google a long time ago… you are right; treat Google traffic as a bonus. Otherwise it is not just confusing to try to keep up with them, it also takes the fun out of blogging. And a grumpy or anxious blogger is not going to be able to write inspired posts to attract readers.

  4.  sunupsolar

    Envision this: You’re a sniper on a roof top getting ready to make a kill shot. Your spotter is telling you what adjustments to make in your aiming to hit the kill zone of the target. These adjustments would include wind speed, distance, humidity and temperature. You line up the cross hairs, wait to pull the trigger in between heart beats and then when the time is right, you pull the trigger.

    But wait, you didn’t make the kill. In fact you missed the target all together and you begin to wonder why since you think you considered everything necessary to hit the bulls eye. The only thing that was not considered was the instantaneous movement of the target to a different location as the bullet flies through the air.

    This is the case with Google’s algorithms whether you’re considering Panda, Penguin, Phantom or Chipaway when doing search engine optimization on your web site. Regardless of how well you think you’ve accomplished this arduous task, Google always seems to pull the carpet out from under our feet as we take careful aim after careful planning. And the end result is that we we end up missing the target all together.

    We must all keep in mind that Google will always present a moving target for us to hit. And if you’ve had experience shooting at moving targets with a gun, the same will apply to Google’s algorithms; hitting a moving target is mighty tough, particularly when there are large distances or other unknowns involved.

    What works today, whether adding or deleting links, may not work tomorrow when considering Google. We’ll never know what goes on inside the minds of those who are trying to control traffic on the internet. After all, Google is trying to maximize advertising revenues from those who are willing to pay and it impacts all web sites regardless of how well or bad a page is written.

    In short, I wouldn’t recommend wrapping up too much time and effort to satisfy Google’s desires and find other avenues to drive traffic to your site such as social media. Otherwise, you’ll just go crazy trying to figure out what do do next. To me, it’s not worth the time and effort continually making all those tweaks.

    •  2createawebsite

      John, this is a BRILLIANT analogy.

      •  sunupsolar

        Thank you, Lisa. Seems like my sniper training in the Marine Corp 42 years ago allowed me to make that analogy. I just wish it would translate into my site making money.

        •  aalbc

          John, have you considered using your training to take out Google with bullets rather than analogies :-)

          •  sunupsolar

            Troy: I’ll just say that I only used my training against the Cong and NVA during my Vietnam days. Google isn’t worth wasting my time and efforts.

            Just find other ways to drive traffic to your site since you’ll NEVER hit the bulls eye with Google.

            As I think about it, try using unconventional ways to drive traffic to your site such as business cards, small advertisements in things like the Thrifty Nickel or magazines, get involved with the local chamber of commerce, etc. It might be easier to develop local or regional traffic at first and that may expand once you become better known. Use some of the other following techniques to help build traffic:

            1. Use academic search engines
            2. Search open access information and post information there
            3. Search research sharing sites
            4. Monitor business idea feeds
            5. Participate in idea sites and forums
            6. Watch other business sites for ideas

          •  aalbc

            :-) Thanks for the additional pointers

    •  BrianHumek

      John,

      You are so right. I have been driven crazy by Google because I have relied on it as my only hope for income at times. I think I said the other day to someone very close to me that, “Google has ruined my life.” Of course, it was my decision to create websites, to try to earn income and have dreams of having great successes and I probably should’ve focused on something tangible like writing or really, anything else. My websites never have been as popular as I had hoped they would be, but until May 22nd of last year, my best website, a pizza themed website called PizzaSpotz.com was gaining traffic every month until it would’ve gone to 5000 unique visitors a month. But before the month ended, the 22nd to be exact, it died, I lost 60% of my traffic. And I did nothing wrong. No duplicate content, no warnings from Google in Webmaster Tools, etc. Just gone. That happened to another website two years earlier but that was for good reason, lots of duplicate content like press releases, etc. The best thing I can do is to create content that people will naturally link to on their own. I have an interview website that naturally has people want to share their interviews with others. If I stick with it, I’ll see traffic continue to go up and barely any of the traffic will need to come from Google. If we are to do something on the internet, it’s definitely best to not give a damn about Google.

      •  sunupsolar

        Brian:

        As I have recently learned, it just isn’t Google playing games with traffic. Facebook and other social media sites seem to be doing the very same thing in algorithms they are now using. When considering all these things going on inside the Internet, it’s no wonder why so many of us are having traffic problems. We are getting hammered by many major sites, NOT JUST GOOGLE. So, it seems that other avenues will need to be investigated to drive traffic to an individual’s site.

        The question now is: How do we accomplish driving traffic to our sites without social media and the major search engines? Maybe this is a topic we should all start looking at on our own as well as through this forum and Lisa’s Website Babble site.

        •  aalbc

          Driving traffic to a website USING social and search is hard. I’m not completely convinced not using it would be any more difficult–simply because that is where so many of us are now anyway.

          Of course you can buy ads from search and social for advertising, and you will see additional traffic but generally what you spend to acquire that traffic will not recovered through Adsense revenue from Google. If you are selling high margin items cool, or if you have decent site and can sell your own ads you have a chance.

          Here is the dilemma, Search favors social and advertisers — often above an official website. (a search on my name started retuning my social ahead of my site for over a year). Once people hit the social site they don’t leave.

          Social favors advertisers, celebrity and those who help the social community. Posts with out bounds links are depreciated. I noticed my posts WITH links are engaged less frequently than in the past or when compared to posts without links (I changed my profile photo, by accident, once and it was the most frequently clicked link that week).

          John Amstrong offered some good tips. I think indy website owners have to figure out a way to help each other, the way we did before there was a Google or Facebook. Have you noticed how Google now has us worried about who we associate with (link too), do you think it is an accident every website owner feels completed to say , “Like me on Facebook and Follow me on Twitter” often forgetting to even their OWN website. We give social free advertising and have made Google a verb… All of this OUR fault. Only we can change it.

  5. I don’t understand what’s going on my blog, my ranking has finished taking down from Google webmaster

  6.  molliewal

    Thank you very much Lisa.
    I have liked this article more. When i first started blogging, i too had a thought that i could amuse google so as to get traffic. Unfortunately all was in vain. I understood that google traffic is never what a blogger should look at as a target. There is a time i posted an article that brought a lot of traffic from google and i thought i had nailed it, after a few weeks, things changed regardless of the more effort i did put it.

    I truly agree that we should treat google traffic as a bonus

    Thank you again for the wonderful article

  7.  Ileane

    Hi Lisa,

    I remember when you said a long time ago not to depend on Google for traffic and I took that to heart. Of course it still hurts to see the organic traffic die down but there are so many other ways to get traffic these days that I don’t really sweat it

    I know this is going to sound silly to most webmasters and bloggers but there is one thing I never liked about telling people to “no-follow” links. Nobody ever shows people “exactly” how to do it! For example if you are a typical WordPress blogger who knows nothing about coding – it doesn’t make sense to install a plugin just to make your links no-follow. So, without the proper instructions, you’re stuck following all those affiliate links, banners, Infographics etc. that you might be getting penalized for, but you’ll never know how to fix it.

    I hope people stop panicking every time there is an update. It’s very nerve-wrecking.

    •  2createawebsite

      It doesn’t sound silly at all. That’s actually a great point Ileane about most people not even understanding how to nofollow and I think that’s what frustrated me about Matt’s video. The average WP user is not going to know how to do that and WordPress doesn’t allow you to do this in your sidebar widgets unless you know code or install a plugin. I’m fairly savvy with code and even I would have to search and figure out how to do it. So of course people are scrambling like mad to do something they may or may not even need to do. Great, great point.

  8.  Luke_Ciciliano

    Hi Lisa,

    I agree with your approach of not feeling a need to police what is going on out on the wider web in terms of people linking to you. The way I look at this is that the tool shouldn’t ever really be necessary unless you are removing links you pointed towards your site that you know you shouldn’t have. The reason I think this is the only time to use it is that Google is well aware that the overwhelming majority of people with websites aren’t going to disavow any links to their site (many people with personal blogs and sites don’t even know to set up Google Webmaster Tools). If Google punishes people for not using a tool that most people aren’t going to use then that would actually decrease search quality as many sites with useful content would disappear from search. That’s why I don’t see Google ever requiring a disavow unless someone was wasting their time on shady SEO tricks, which also gets back to the point that people shouldn’t be engaging in shady SEO tricks in the first place. I’d be curious to know others’ opinions as to whether disavowing links is largely unnecessary?

    •  2createawebsite

      Right the whole point was for removing bad links, but unfortunately negative SEO started happening and people began fearing others were trying to sabotage their rankings. So I think that’s why Matt sort of changed his tune a bit. Negative SEO may not be a big issue, but it is still an issue so that’s why he says if you see something weird just disavow it.

      Another good point about most people not even understanding or knowing the tool even exists!

  9.  Stuffseniorneed

    Hi Lisa,

    Great info, as always!

    I wish I COULD disregard Google’s impact on my site. I have a high quality information site that routinely had 2 or 3 pages come up on the first results page for almost anything related to my niche. With the Penguin/Panda hit, Google’s pretty much dropped the entire site, and my traffic is down to 1/3 what it was before.

    The thing that REALLY bothers me about this, though, is that Google totally messed up its super-search-talent with those changes. When we search on G, these days, there’s always 3 or 4 spam sites on page 1, plus completely misdirecting ones (last night my spouse looked up Novgorod Museum and G offered mail order brides!). It works so much worse, I wonder why they bothered.

    If it had actually improved the search results, I wouldn’t complain — and probably wouldn’t have lost out. But G searches are a joke now. That’s the worst part!

    Anyway, thanks for letting me rant. ;)

    Blessings,

    erin

    •  2createawebsite

      Interesting, Erin. I personally haven’t seen a lot of spam but I guess it depends on what niche you are in because I have heard others say the exact same thing.

  10.  2besure

    I check by links all the time, but have no idea how to tell which is a bad link. So, I never touch the dis-avow feature in Webmaster Tools. I am still trying to figure it out a year after building my first site. I don’t like living in fear, but still like to tweak my posts, perhaps a little too often. Lisa, you also said to diversify and never make Adsense your only source of income! Every algorithm change, makes things a little bumpy. When you realize this is the new normal, your adjust accordingly. I used to write of Ehow and there were writers earning 5 and 6,000 a month. They though they would be able to retire on that money. When eHow closed the writers program, I swear, I saw writers standing on window ledges! No really, but the depression that followed that disappointment was overwhelming. Any way, Love all your advise. Thanks for this latest post!

  11.  OfficialFitness

    With all of these linking penalties I don’t even know that Google gives us the best results anymore. After all, are they really going to show us the most relevant site if the most relevant search result has too many links pointing to it? I think not. Sometimes I think we’d be better off if we all started using a different search engine such as DuckDuckGo.

    The Web used to be really fun and writing an article and then linking out to a couple of relevant sites within the article seemed like a good idea, but now I’m afraid to link to anyone for fear that they’ll become angry.

    Also, removing all of your links doesn’t seem smart either. You may get the penalty removed, but may still get no traffic because you don’t have any links.

  12.  mitch_m

    I fully agree with you here Lisa. I get tons of requests to remove links from my finance blog from financial sites. I refuse to do it because 99% of them have left comments, which means they’ve paid someone to leave them. I send them email back saying if they’ll pay me to remove them I will; I’ve yet to hear back from any of those folks. They’re all getting bad advice; we know it.

  13. Google is not the only show in town. I blog for the audience and not for keywords.

  14.  IM_with_David

    Thankfully, I never really worry about Google. The blogs I have are ones that I have a personal interest in and between onpage SEO and PR and article marketing I am quite happy with how they perform. They don’t make me much revenue but I am more a Kindle publisher than anything else and blogging is just a kind of extra outlet. Google really annoy me though!

    •  2createawebsite

      Good for you, Dave! I haven’t gotten much into Kindle publishing. I keep starting a book for my hair site but haven’t made time to give it the attention it deserves.

  15.  watesh

    I also stopped obsessing with the link stuff because it is SO EXHAUSTING…Trying to outsmart Google is the hardest thing. I just focus on great content and do other stuff. Blogging should be less of a task and more of fun

  16.  travelbethbug

    What I read from the disavow links video, is that Google does fine for the most part, however will message you if you have unnatural links, so upon that message act and use the disavow option in webmaster tools.

    •  2createawebsite

      Right, this is what they advised when the tool first rolled out, but that recent video caused a bit of confusion and panic because now it sounds like he’s suggesting you also use it when you see “weird” links in Google Webmaster Tools.

  17.  sunupsolar

    Unless Bethany is speaking about Google’s Webmaster Tools and messages contained there, I’ve never known Google to message anyone about links; whether natural, unnatural or disavowed. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, it’s just that I’ve never seen it.

  18.  OfficialFitness

    Bethany is right. Google will send you an email about unnatural links. To my shock and surprise, I recently received one of these emails. It was for one of my arcade sites. I don’t link out excessively, but I’m using an arcade script and any links that are on there are site wide. There is no way around this (but I wish there was). Since the site has almost 3000 games, and therefore about 3000 pages, then each link is shown about 3000 times. I think this is why I received an unnatural linking penalty email from Google. I didn’t bother doing anything about it or even asking for reconsideration, since the only option I would have is just not to link to anyone from this site. I decided I can just live with the penalty for this one site.

  19. Angela, that seems unfair on your part as it’s just the type of site you run, but you’re right, probably best to just leave it and hope it doesn’t affect your business too much and that the penalty isn’t too severe.

    In reply to what Watesh said, it is exhausting trying to outsmart Google and stay ahead in the rankings game, but as an SEO its my job to worry about links and Google’s next move. As a site owner, i would agree, just produce excellent content and enjoy what you’re doing and the rest will follow. This is the SEo game now, being as natural as possible, so if you can just be natural!

  20.  tiroberts

    Such a real post right here, Lisa.

    You already know how I feel on this subject. I just feel bad for everyone who’s letting all the Google changes drive them crazy. Ain’t nobody got time for that! LOL.

    Trust me, I already got a enough to worry about in my life and I def ain’t gonna let Google add to the struggle. :)

    Thanks for sharing your input on this topic. I hope you’ve had a great week and a relaxing weekend ahead.

    Ti

    P.S. Thanks a bunch for the testimonial. I really appreciate it. :)

  21.  KharimTomlinson

    Hey Lisa,

    I don’t know if I should care or shouldn’t care about what Google is doing…. But I just don’t have the energy to care.

    I am a very busy guy and I would rather to keep on writing like I normally do and to also build up my community. I care more about my readers and audience than search engine.

  22.  sunupsolar

    Kharim:

    I think most folks feel pretty much the same as you. I know I do for sure.

    Perhaps the best thing to do is find alternative ways to drive traffic to your site via social media. You may want to try driving local traffic to your site and once that picks up go for a bigger audience.

    Keep in mind Google will always find a way to screw folks up with its ever changing algorithms. You’ll NEVER hit the bulls eyes since moving targets are difficult to hit. Unless you have lots of money to pay for advertisement or page placement, you’ll have an arduous task a head trying to stay on top. To me, it just isn’t worth the time and effort.

    •  2createawebsite

      Agree John and Kharim, Google can take away traffic but not our Facebook fans, email list subscribers, etc. The game has changed and there are too many other alternatives.

  23.  FerbHuynh

    I see alot of people say tired of google but I dont think that’s a problem but how we build relationship with readers

    •  sunupsolar

      Here’s another aspect (opinion) of SEO that I have not seen discussed here.

      We see tons of sites on the Internet and get lots of spam from those who offer SEO services to optimize a web site for better page ranking. The folks who provide these SEO services make a lot of money from folks like us trying to get better page rankings on Google. To me it seems these services only exasperate our difficulties since they really don’t know much more than the rest of us. Consequently, some of us will pay them money for services that may provide little if no benefit to web site owners because of the constant changes to Google algorithms. Why waste hard earned money on something that doesn’t seem to provide much benefit?

      And as some of the postings, including mine, indicate that other avenues should be sought to drive more traffic to our web sites. Save your money rather than having someone do SEO, concentrate on social media and other ways of driving traffic to your site. I think you’ll be more successful doing things that way instead of trying to please the greedy Google Gods in Mountain View, California and those who seem to victimize website owners with SEO services with very limited success.

      Just my $0.000000000000000000000002 worth of opinion considering hyper inflation.

      •  2createawebsite

        Hey John,

        I’m enjoying this discussion.

        I think part of the problem is (especially if you’ve been around long enough to remember when SEO was much more simplistic), people still feel like they can “fix” whatever is broken. (Add more content, change meta tags, remove links, etc.) So they keep tweaking and re-tweaking. When the real deal is that SEO has changed for good and I think it’s harder for some to wrap their minds around it. This is not to say that you cannot do some tweaking that will help, but people are really taking to to the extreme trying to “fix” their SEO. But as I said in the post, nothing’s broken. It’s a new era. Google is not the same Google from 2008.

        Those SEO services you mentioned are a sore spot for me. They prey on unsuspecting newbies who still assume SEO is all about on-page content. Now before I lump everyone in the same pot, I realize not all are bad. If they offer education and set their expectations and prices accordingly I’m OK with that. But the ones who guarantee a top ranking in 5 days for $X amount of dollars drive me crazy. Ugh!

  24. Really good advice! It all seems to come down to just making your website and writing your content with best reader experience in mind – and then good rankings should follow. No need to think about what Google will think with every little change you make.

  25. I agree it really all does come down to having a good website with good content that readers enjoy reading and you must take Google as a bonus.

  26.  elo_chad

    i think that guy confuses people more than helps. he is a authority but i know people that are straight to the point and just get results not talk, talk, talk.

  27. There’s just too much misinformation out there… Even what Matt Cutts says about SEO can sometimes be so misleading more then he is actually accurate.

  28. I think it is time to stop focusing on pleasing google. As you have said google should just be seen as a bonus. I focus on other ways of getting traffic to my blogs such as social media

  29. Really good advice! It all seems to come down to just making your website and writing your content with best reader experience in mind – and then good rankings should follow. No need to think about what Google will think with every little change you make…thanks…!!

  30. Dofollow backlinks passes some link juice to web page but nofollow backlinks does not pass. One thing I learnt from this post is that one should focus audience not the search engine which automatically increase the rank and traffic.

    Whatever updates search engine is not the matter when your altimate target is audience.

  31. It all seems to come down to just making your website and writing your content with best reader experience in mind – and then good rankings should follow. No need to think about what Google will think with every little change you make.
    thanks for the advice..!!

  32. Great info as always, Lisa! Thanks for sharing!

  33. As you have said google should just be seen as a bonus. I focus on other ways of getting traffic to my blogs such as social media

  34.  sunupsolar

    There is certainly a great deal of good ideas being exchanged here on traffic to our web sites. It seems as though all of us have taken a hit on reduced traffic because of Google’s algorithms. But, I don’t think it’s Google doing this on its own; perhaps a big portion, but not all of it.

    I’ve recently learned other search engines and social media sites are doing the same thing as Google. Each one of them has their own set of algorithms to influence traffic to web sites all around the world. And perhaps the next biggest site to do this is Facebook; a site many of us depend upon driving traffic to our sites.

    To be honest with you, I don’t think we can depend on any of the major social and search engines to drive traffic our way. Each one of these entities has an agenda that impacts all of us. So, we need to find different ways to bring the needed traffic to our sites to make them worthwhile.

    I don’t have any answers on how that is to be accomplished. Maybe we can begin a dialog on how this might be accomplished. Here are some suggestions:

    1. Developing referral traffic to our sites.
    2. Finding partners Internet partners – building relationships with other sites.
    3. Providing help – provide unique help to folks who are looking for solutions to their questions or problems.
    4. Posting more content. I am not sure about this one. Just because one posts more content doesn’t mean more traffic. But, it’s a topic worth discussion.
    5. Taking advantage of blogging communities.
    6. Long tail keyword variations.
    7. Rich snippets – search listings that include information regarding a product’s price, availability and review count.
    8. Writing great headlines and content that attracts people….ya know the things Copyblogger promotes.
    9. The impacts of internal links have over your rankings. Linking to it from existing high authority pages on your domain can pass authority and help the target page to rank better.
    10. Using guest posts….this site is a perfect example. Also see #17 below
    11. Use of Infographics.
    12. Video marketing
    13. Provide value to your readers
    14. Let’s stop trying to figure out what’s going on with Google and other major search engines and social media sites.
    15. Decreasing the bounce rate on your pages.
    16. Create a blog page on your site if you don’t have one.
    17. Get industry experts to make guest posts on your site.

    •  2createawebsite

      John,

      I don’t think I ever did respond to your post on my forum about the ebook. I think you summed it up very well with regards to going niche and long tail keywords. (Just made the connection that you are JohnDavid on WB.) :)

      I have reviewed several sites and the biggest mistake is their site is not niche at all. It’s a bunch of articles on weight loss, or health or skin care. And today that’s not going to cut it if you want any worthwhile Google traffic.

      You can’t rely on Google anymore BUT you can use it for starter traffic as I talked about in the ebook. Then you use that traffic to promote your list, or perhaps setup an autoresponder to drip out a mini course over the course of the month.

      And I’m not just talking about generic tips, but SUPER helpful advice that overdelivers so people can’t wait to get part 2, part 3, etc. During the course you invite people to post questions on a page on your blog or forum, etc.

      But the idea is to setup a funnel from the very beginning for how you’re going to keep people coming back. Sure you can use Google and social media for some exposure but the key is to hang on to those visitors. There’s always so much talk about getting traffic, but what about visitor retention. That’s just as important.

      All of these changes are forcing us to have more of a defined strategy when we begin and for the long term. Times have definitely changed!

      •  sunupsolar

        Lisa,

        You certainly established the connection between this site and your WB in regards to my postings. :-) That would be me!

        Since my site was hammered so hard by Google and other search engines, I’m considering just shutting down my site all together and start from scratch using a WordPress (Studio Press Gensis) theme instead of using SBI. My current site is much to broad and in your words “encyclopedic” since it touches on many different topics. So, I want to make it more “nichey” on one topic using long tail key words. Also, I want to branch off into a totally different subject matter all together.

        My current site uses just key words where there a lot of competition and there is no way to compete on the topics since there are bigger players who can pay for page positioning and have tons of financial resources. Making a one stop web source of information on many different, yet related topics, just won’t work for a small player.

        But now that I think about it, I could just whittle down the content in the existing site and revisit my key words and look for long tail ones so the site wouldn’t be a total lost cause. I’d also convert to a Studio Press theme using different IP. Maybe I’ll just consider this route first before throwing in the towel on this site.

        •  2createawebsite

          John you may be the perfect candidate for my new project. I’m putting together a new membership site on Website Babble and will be looking for people of all levels to be guinea pigs/testers so I can come up with the right pricing. It’s going to be all video and continuously updated. Anyway I will be selecting random people to test and I am really targeting people who have either lost traffic or are starting for the first time.

          I feel like I have so much to offer from what I’ve learned through all this and want to give people better education on what’s relevant today — especially when starting. I’ve learned so much from what I did wrong with ignoring email marketing, etc.

          So anyway I’m just rambling but I will be offering the free membership to a handful of people to give it a test run. So stay tuned. You’re already a Website Babble member so you qualify! You are the kind of person I am targeting for this. :)

  35. But now that I think about it, I could just whittle down the content in the existing site and revisit my key words and look for long tail ones so the site wouldn’t be a total lost cause. I’d also convert to a Studio Press theme using different IP. Maybe I’ll just consider this route first before throwing in the towel on this site.

  36.  AlexTay11576120

    Hi Lisa,
    I think SEO with unique and high quality content is the best way to get good traffic. If traffic from search engines is retained and we made them direct traffic, nothing can complete this method. Because direct traffic is the best way to be safe from search engine penalties like a panda and penguin

    • John Armstrong says:

       sunupsolar

      Alex:
      There lies the core of the problem; getting direct traffic. Regardless of how well your content may be written, Google hammered small sites all over the spectrum for a couple of years and millions of small sites suffered the consequences. And if Google penalizes a small site regardless of content or other SEO, it’s very difficult to get that direct traffic other and going through social media where not everyone is looking for product or advise. Google acknowledged this in an around about way by making adjustments to its algorithms a 3-4 months ago for smaller sites. But, the damage has already been done to many sites (actually millions) and to their owners; including mine. I threw in the towel last May and shut my site down. It was rather disheartening to have a site which was pulling about 2000 visitors a day to one having 600 per month (99% drop in traffic) and not providing any revenue.

      Also, it does not pay to have a site where competition for keywords is getting more fierce because of emerging technologies (solar technologies in my instance). When there are hundreds of thousands of sites going after the same keywords or long tail keyword phrases, making things work becomes that much more difficult. So, it becomes important to realize that there will come a time in some niche markets to continue to fish or cut bait depending on how saturated the market has become. The bigger players in niche markets usually win out here since they have the financial resources to pay for placement in the search engine pages which is really the crux of the entire matter. When this happens, its time to go to another fishing hole and find another niche and hopefully land some bigger fish.

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