How to Survive Search Engine Upheavals
Donald Nelson, copyright 2003
During the month of November
many website entrepreneurs were shaken when Google made its
infamous “Florida” update, wiping out search positions for
several high-ranking websites, which disappeared from the “top
100” overnight. While all the details behind the Google
changes are still not known, it is possible for website owners
to learn something from this experience and take steps which
will ensure that they will not be adversely affected by future
upheavals of this sort. I have compiled a list of six steps
that can be taken to bring about steady, long term success
regardless of search engine fluctuations.
1. Stick to the Basics: Instead of trying to outsmart the
search engines, build a website that is both search engine
friendly and stocked with useful content for your end-users.
In the long run, you will be rewarded for such efforts and
your website will achieve its best possible position even in
the face of changes in search engine algorithms.
2. Don’t Over Optimize your site: Write your website’s text
naturally. Sure, your main keywords have to be included on
your site, in your headlines, in your opening paragraph and in
some of the links on your site, but don’t overdo it. It is
thought that Google applied a filter in its latest update
which penalized sites for keyword densities that were higher
than would be normally expected.
3. Don’t Indulge in “Linking Frenzy”: During the past year, as
more people became aware of Google’s PageRank system, there
was a feverish effort to trade links and get links from sites
with high page ranks. The importance of Page Rank in
determining search results on Google is uncertain in light of
the new updates, and doesn’t even figure on other search
engines which may come to play a more important role in the
future. (Google currently accounts for around 75% of search
engine activity, but should Yahoo switch to Inktomi in the
coming year Google’s share will decline).
As I mentioned in a recent article
pursue link exchanges if these links can generate traffic or
if they can provide a valuable resource for your web visitors.
Don’t worry about Page Rank, and don’t rely on linking alone
to boost your site’s standing in search results. The traffic
that you get from good links will make a steady contribution
to your website’s success.
4. Diversify your promotion efforts: Take a log at your log
files and website statistics and see where your traffic is
coming from. Instead of trying to compete for a heavily
contested keyword or keyword phrase see if there are
variations that you can use to reach your target audience.
Diversification also means not relying on search alone.
Participation in forums and online discussions, publishing
your articles on other websites and in ezines will also bring
steady streams of traffic that will not be affected by search
5. Find a Niche: One of the biggest difficulties faced by
Internet entrepreneurs is that they are selling products or
services that are no different from those of several thousand
other competitors. If you sell something that is specialized
or unique, then your task of achieving prominence in search
results will be eased considerably. Even if you do not have
something that is unique, you should consider a niche in which
you can market your product. Suppose you are a web designer.
If you try to compete for the keyword phrase “web design” you
will find it difficult to get success. But, suppose you
compete for “Web Design, Iowa” (assuming that you live in
Iowa!) your chances are much better.
6. Get Ready to Pay for your advertising: Let’s face it, if
there are thousands of websites competing for a particular
search phrase, only 50 of them can make it onto the first five
pages of most major search engines. While a building a well
optimized site is still one of the most cost effective
measures that a web owner can take, in some of the heavily
contested fields it may be necessary to sometimes participate
in pay-per-click advertising in order to be able to stand out
from the crowd.
Take a look at your website and your business activity, and
see where you can make modifications that will improve your
prospects for long-term success. If you do so, you will not be
troubled by the next update of Google or any other search
Nelson is a web developer, editor and social worker. Hehas
been working on the Internet since 1995, and is currently the
director of A1-Optimization (http://www.a1-optimization.com),
a firm providing low cost search engine optimization,
submission and web promotion services.
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