Are you feeling scared of Pandas and Penguins lately? If you follow Google's changes and updates you might be.
But here's why I'm not worried about what Google's up to, other than my usual web marketing geekiness that compels me to keep up with what they're up to...
If you're doing things right, building multiple traffic sources (and your email list!) and not trying to sneak in "black hat" search engine optimization techniques, you're probably going to be just fine.
One of the lessons I've learned is to never rely on one source of traffic, especially when you can't control it. I don't control Google, or Bing, or Facebook, or Twitter, or Pinterest, and the list goes on... it's smart to leverage all of them for traffic back to your website, but it's not smart to depend on any one source for all your traffic.
The last several major updates that Google's pushed out haven't hurt my traffic. My search engine traffic, as well as traffic overall, has steadily grown for the last several years.
It's because I focus on two things and follow one simple rule that allow me to get nice streams of traffic not just from Google and the search engines but also from the social networks, links I've built online, and my ezine list.
1. Create Awesome Content
Creating awesome content means I focus on answering the questions my readers (and potential readers) are asking and do my best to deliver value in every post I share.
Usually it means I write the content myself. Sometimes it means I share cool people with you that I've run across in my business.
It always means writing headlines and subheadlines that are appropriate and fit my content. It always means writing for my readers and not the search engines (I don't have to worry about the "over-optimization" that Google's after in their latest update, I'm not stuffing keywords into every sentence and my keyword stemming happens naturally).
We're not robots. Let's not sound like them. Boooooring and hard to read.
It's not about creating a content farm with thousands of articles. It's not about rehashing what someone else wrote with only minor edits so you don't feel like you copied them (trust me, as someone who regularly spots my content on other blogs, the author knows when you've done this) or spinning my own articles. It's not about accepting all sorts of paid links and paid posts to make quick cash. (If you don't know what content farms, article spinning, or paid links/posts are, that's cool, they're all options that require walking very carefully so you don't shoot yourself in the foot for search engine positioning.)
2. Build Links Naturally
When you create awesome content, then work to get it noticed on the social networks, people will link to you naturally.
And when you interact with others, comment on their blogs, and follow good basic online marketing practices you'll find that the links you've built aren't "suspect" to Google because they're to different pages on your site, with different anchor text, and from a variety of websites.
Trying to get 1000 sites (any sites that will swap links, even if they aren't related to your topic/focus) to link to you using the exact same anchor text, is going to come across as spammy. It's not natural link building and it doesn't drive ideal traffic to you anyway.
Why does Google care? Because they're looking to deliver the best content in their results. If you're sharing good content, people will link to you and share you, and then Google will spot that and see those links as "votes" for you. Yes, this means you've got to do some work to get your content out there. Do the work.
3. Don't Try to Game the Search Engines
This is where the problems start. When we think we can game the search engines... yeah, it might work this week, maybe even next week or next month. But eventually the game will be over.
Are good search engine optimization basics worth knowing? Absolutely!! If you don't understand how the search engines work, it's worth your time to study from a reputable source. But don't let the allure of "black hat" strategies that promise to get you to #1 on Google by tomorrow draw you in. Anyone that tells you that is either going to tell you to buy PPC ads (that can get you on page 1 at Google overnight, of course, and is a legit option), suggest keywords no one is actually searching for, or just might be trying to game Google with sneaky tricks.
Think long term instead of quick gains. Build up content that will attract ideal readers to you and keep delivering content your readers want.
Don't do what seems "easy" today. Swapping links with any site that will swap, stuffing in keywords and over optimizing text, and reprinting endless articles or spinning your own like crazy, will hurt you in the long run -- and not just with search engines!
Keep your readers as your top focus.
Do readers want to see 10 versions of the same article on your blog? Do they want to read text so filled with one keyword phrase that it feels like you can't speak English? No! So don't do it.
Focus on them. If you don't, you'll lose them and where you rank in the search engines won't matter because those who do find you won't stick around long enough to attempt reading your content.
What do you think? Do the updates strike fear into your heart everytime you hear about another one that's out? Or do you follow an approach similar to mine? What's working for you?