Recovering from ‘The Penguin’

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One of my clients’ sites was hit hard by the recent Google algorithm update (Penguin 2.1) and went from Page 1 to Page 5 in the blink of an eye. Their previous SEO ‘expert’ had set up hundreds of backlinks from dodgy sites. This technique worked great for a while, despite the warnings from Google not to use this method, but when Penguin 2.1 was unleashed those dodgy links negatively impacted the site’s ranking. As a result, sales enquiries plummeted and emergency marketing methods were implemented.

Putting all your eggs in one basket is never good for minimising risk. If your business relies on Google and other search engines for most of your sales leads I would encourage you to look at diversifying.

Just like an investment portfolio, diversity is good risk management. And just like financial markets, the algorithms used by the search engines are constantly updating and adjusting.

Use different channels to reach your audience, don’t just rely on organic web searches. Continue running print campaigns and sharing content through social media (facebook, twitter, Google+ and Youtube). Even Google itself is encouraging businesses and web owners to diversify and use social media channels to engage with potential and existing customers.

I also think small businesses should follow the big brands and have separate websites for their corporate brand and for their main products or services. For example, the Mars global corporate site and the Snickers product site.

Experiment with different SEO techniques to see what works best but mix it up on each one. Always keep your corporate site squeaky clean SEO-wise. That way if one site is penalised or doesn’t perform well in search engine results pages (SERPs), at least your corporate site will still be ok.

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