The word panda used to conjure images in my mind of cherubic bears doing somersaults and munching on bamboo. Not anymore! These days I think of pandas as Google updates that are anything but cute.
Google's pandas are far from being an endangered species. So what's in store? What channels should we spend our time and money on? Are unicorns real?
I'm not getting any answers from my trusty Ouija board. It stopped talking to me after Google encrypted their keyword searches. We all know Magic 8 Balls are silly, so I'll just do this thing the old fashioned way: thinking.
Here's a recap of a few updates that carried a lot of impact:
Google Updates & What They Do
For example: if you sold hand-knitted cat hats and owned the domain cathats.com you would have seen your site drop in rank on searches for cat hats, overnight. Which is ridiculous because you know you are the best cat hat maker in the country and you live up to your domain name.
Some updates have been helpful in making organic content relevant to search terms. Others just scream "we want your advertising dollars." Have you noticed how the organic results of page one have shrunk and are mostly ads now? Yep, me too.
What Google Updates Should Prompt You To Do
1. Invest in high-quality content that is written in a natural manner. When you start getting all funky with keywords and links you are shooting yourself in the foot. I have many blog posts with page one rank and I did not one thing to "optimize" them. In fact, Google flat out tells you what kind of content they like: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en#1
Quality content, with a fresh opinion or a new take on news and information is essential to social media marketing. If you cannot afford to hire a good writer or write yourself, you're probably better off not doing anything than hiring someone from an SEO sweatshop.
2. Try Facebook advertising. I have seen tremendous results with my B2C clients running Facebook ads. The ROI is significantly higher than anything I've seen in AdWords campaigns. If you have a new product or service that people won't be searching for because they don't' know it exists, running AdWords campaigns is not the way to go. But I've seen great results for new product marketing with Facebook ads.
3. Run LinkedIn ads and follow-up with email drips. If you're in B2B I suggest running ads on LinkedIn. I have a client who ended up with 200 leads for around a thousand bucks. Offer a white paper or ebook in your ad and send the traffic to a landing page that requires at the very least, an email address to deliver your literature. Then, expand on the topic in follow-up emails and a call to action.
4. Try promoted tweets and contests. I've seen good results from promoted tweet campaigns. Running contests and giveaways also work well. Twitter is expanding their advertising features this year to include better targeting and analytics.
5. Reach out to bloggers. Blogger outreach can be simple and very effective. I use Cision, a gigantic PR and marketing databases, to pull blogger contact info by category. I write two pitches to send to the contact, one for the initial email and the second for a follow-up, which I send a week later if I get no response. In pitches I will often offer free products or services for bloggers to try out and review. Many bloggers will also publish a post about you if you are willing to do a product giveaway for their readers.
6. Sign-up for HARO. Haro stands for help-a-reporter-out. Sign up to get daily queries from journalists, bloggers and TV/radio shows looking for content. The queries are divided into categories such as business, healthcare, finance and biotechnology. If one pertains to an area you or someone at your company is an expert in respond to the query. If it gets picked up it's free publicity. http://www.helpareporter.com/
The most important lesson from Google updates and SEO is to never put all marketing eggs in one basket. Diversity is key in 2014!