Years ago when I started online things were different. Getting to the top of Google’s search results wasn’t exactly effortless but it wasn’t impossible either. For those who don’t know here is what webmasters used to do:
– Research keywords: pick something with moderately high demand and low supply, something you can win.
– Register a good domain – those days it was something like “my-keyword.com” or “my-keyword-pro.com”.
– Write keyword-focused pages – only one keyword per page. Keyword it title, keyword in URL, keyword in first paragraph, keyword in link and keywords sprinkled inside the copy, aka keyword stuffing. We hated to call it that way, we wanted to call it quality content, but hey, it was what it was!
As the time passed keywords were more of key phrases and they were getting longer and longer. Imagine an article for keyword “how to be mysterious” (random, just for the sake of example) written according to these principles! It would always start something like this: “If you are wondering how to be mysterious look no further…” Then this four-word key phrase would be repeated every 100 words. Yikes!
– Finally, build links. While we always differentiated between quality links (like links from New York Times) and so-so links, the later worked just fine. You could buy links, you could write and submit articles to free article directories. You could do link exchanges. You had a world of opportunities!
While all these practices were against Google guidelines, Google didn’t do anything to prevent this. It actually worked, so it felt like instead of penalizing these practices Google was actually rewarding them. And when everyone did that and ranked above you, it really made no point to be online unless you are ready to do what works.
Then Google’s Panda came… It was supposed to be about eliminating low-quality sites and giving a chance to all these awesome sites and blogs that were not visible before. If you are new to online world, here is what it was about. While it does sound good and did eliminate some bad sites, it also hurt many good sites. Panda ran about once a month, taking more sites off the face of the web each time.
Then Google Penguin came. Once again, if you are new to our world or if you need to refresh your memory here is the official announcement of Penguin made back in April 2012. This was supposed to be about low-quality unnatural links, keyword stuffing and over-optimization. Ironically, this particular example of webspam provided by Google’s Matt Cutts did very well after their update. And again, while it did eliminate some spam, a lot survived and many good sites suffered.
I know dozens of webmasters who threw in the towel after being completely destroyed by Google’s P&P (that’s how I refer to Panda and Penguin), losing their income and, most importantly, hope. I personally own a 100 percent natural website with good quality content that lost more than 50 percent of its traffic in June 2012 and another 50 percent (of the remainder) now on May 9. The updates that hurt me weren’t officially confirmed and there is no way for me to be sure it was Panda or Penguin, but does this matter? What matters is that I absolutely can’t rely on Google anymore. It was never good idea. I always knew it. But now I get it.
Fortunately social media came to rescue. If you are like me, you hate it, but let’s face it – there is no workaround. It needs considerably more effort on your part, more input and more quality to be successful with social media. In addition, each platform is a science by its own and they all constantly change.
Facebook, for example, is not what it used to be and getting traffic from there is much harder than it once was. You can have thousands of fans on Facebook but if your Edgerank is low, very few people will see your updates. It needs constant work and the demands are higher than ever. If you have more than one website, it becomes nearly impossible to take full advantage of social media unless, of course, you hire professional help. Pinterest is on rise, still easy to work with, but the question is: how long it will continue? I would expect that Pinterest will want to monetize their efforts too. In addition, Pinterest is not suitable for every niche.
So what are your thoughts? What are you going to do? Are you getting a real job (just kidding 😉 ) or you have a specific plan?
My plan includes the following:
– Social media. Facebook and Pinterest are my current favorites.
– Networking. One of my biggest mistakes was refusing to network with other website owners and bloggers. I am an introvert by nature.
– Product creation. I will leave infopreneurship to hobbyists and create something I can sell. I will draw traffic from social media and advertising.
What’s your plan?