Estimates suggest that the top result typically gets a third of clicks, and as many as 90% of searches never go past the first page. This means that whatever your field, being first on a Google search may be your best sales technique, and a mistake can cost you dearly. As the playing field changes regularly, you have to be paying attention to even know you’ve been demoted
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is like a sport: at the top of the tree, people spend millions of pounds chasing ever smaller improvements, and big name players earn shockingly good salaries. Fortunately, you don’t have to be in the top flight to earn a living, and there’s still room for a kickabout in the park. In the lower leagues recovering from a poor season or a massive blunder is easier than it might seem.
What Kind of Blunder are we Talking About?
Search engine rankings are entirely determined by algorithms, which are a set of rules implemented by the search software. A blunder in this context is when you do something that makes the search engine consider your site untrustworthy. Examples include:
– Putting key information in images or flash animations
– Using uninformative URLs
– Using ‘do not list’ tags or blocking robots
– Too many or inaccurate redirects
– Rebuilding a site from scratch
– Spammy link building (e.g. hundreds of links created for one! low! fee!)
– Tweaking search settings (e.g. Google Webmaster Tools)
– Using out-of-date SEO advice
Why do SEO Tips have an Expiry Date?
There’s an arms race going on, so search engine algorithms change regularly. Search engines, like Google, Yahoo and Bing, want to present the result that will make their customer happiest first, so that they keep using their service and maybe click on an ad or two. Websites want to be top, as even if the customer doesn’t find the answer or product they were looking for, they may buy something else or click on one of their ads.
This conflict of interests means that the most effective tactics can change overnight, and if the rules change when you’re not ready, your rankings can drop dramatically. After Google’s ‘Penguin’ update, some sites lost half their traffic in a couple of days. As many small businesses do their SEO in a very ad hoc way, some probably still don’t understand why their business is taking a beating.
How to Fix it: Work with the Search Engines
It’s impossible to future proof your digital marking and SEO. However, you can repair a blunder by working with the search engines. First, you need to figure out what has gone wrong, and try to remove any poisonous links. Second, refocus and aim to create quality content that provides actual value to the end user. This is the gold dust that searchers (and therefore search engines) are looking for. As an independent web marketing business, boxChilli can provide both writing and SEO services, as well as training you or your team.