Why SEO is Waiting for its own “White Hat Rapture”

It’s hard not to feel some sympathy for the followers of Harold Camping, the evangelical broadcaster who predicted that the world would end last Saturday. While I’m more than pleased that the human race seems to have avoided the apocalypse, many of his followers spent their savings and gave away all of their worldly goods in preparation for the “rapture”, in which Jesus would return to Earth and true believers would be swept up to heaven.

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2007/07/13/google_torstensillsAFPGT_1.jpgThose who still believe may not have long to wait however, as his latest prediction states that 21st October will now be the date for the end of the world. Well, we all make mistakes.

So how does the end of the world have anything to do with SEO? (Unless your site got hit by Panda, then you’ll have felt that end of the world experience before).

White Hat Rapture

It seems as though the world of SEO has its own rapture story entwined into its very core and that using the unfortunate fate of Harold Camping’s trusty followers could provide a timely lesson in how best to succeed at SEO.

Scanning the various blogs, articles and forums that proliferate the web will show the avid search engine marketer the good, the bad and the downright ugly of SEO. There are any number of ways to game the system and there are fierce lines drawn between those who use underhand tactics to fool Google and those who are passionately loyal to the codes of conduct laid out in their terms and conditions.

It is those who stick unwaveringly to the white hat approach who apply most to this idea of SEO rapture in that they, like the followers of Mr Camping, are waiting for the date where the almighty will come down and offer the ultimate reward for true believers. In the case of the whiter than white hat preachers, that reward is search engine success at the expense of their more black hat competitors who have profited up until now.

Has the Date Been Set?

Unlike those who believed that the world would end on 21 May, the white hat believers do not have a fixed date, but they remain confident that the day will occur when Google will reach down from the skies and reward those true believers with first page rankings while casting everyone else into the abyss of search engine obscurity.

While all of this makes for an entertaining read, what truth is there behind Google’s own rapture date and how should you be marketing your website effectively?

Much like the end of the world prophets, the date when Google will punish those who violate its conditions keeps on moving. Although there has never been a date set in stone, every algorithm change brings with it more people who are convinced that the end is nigh for the link spammers, but it is a date that keeps moving further and further into the distance.

So how should you market your website successfully without risking a fiery end at the hands of Google?

The key is in variety. If you don’t keep up to date with what even the darkest of web forces are doing then you risk being left out of the loop. See what others are doing and apply a more sustainable method of using those techniques to benefit you.

Above all use your common sense. If you see somebody using methods that look really risky then steer well clear, but used in small doses, some of the more “grey hat” techniques can yield some positive results.

Don’t base all of your marketing on the same one or two techniques and always experiment on sites that aren’t going to cost you money if you get penalised, this will help you to develop an array of marketing procedures that will leave you less exposed next time Google changes its algorithm.

Variety is the key so don’t place all of your faith in Google eradicating  your more shady competitors. If you end up waiting for that day of white hat rapture, you could, like the followers of Harold Camping, be waiting for far longer than you expected.

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About the author:

 How Can you Survive the Next Big Google Algorithm Change?Alan Grainger is an in-house B2B web marketer and manages the SEO for The Promotional Gifts Company, a leading UK specialist in the promotional products sector. He writes articles exploring the issues faced by the B2B web marketer, giving an “in the trenches” view from an in-house SEO department.

How Can you Survive the Next Big Google Algorithm Change?

Whenever Google announces a change to their algorithm, the SEO world is full of comment and speculation as to what that will mean for the future of their rankings.

http://www.bloggersandmarketers.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Google-Algorithm-Change-brought-cheers-for-Porn-Sites.jpgIndeed, it doesn’t even take an algorithm change to have this effect and it has reached the stage now where even Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s crack webspam team blowing his nose will cause a ranking debate in some circles.

So with so much gossip and speculation surrounding the search engine industry, how can you make sure that you are on top of the news and that your websites won’t suffer at the hands of Google’s next algorithm change?

The unfortunate truth is that you can’t. Google are a law unto themselves and if they decide to make a change then you have to be sure that you have put the right work so that you won’t be tossed to the back of the pile when the next big algorithm change comes into force.

But what you can do is try to keep on top of the Google guidelines so that your site doesn’t tumble down the rankings during the next big algorithm change.

Now this isn’t going to be another one of those “be whiter than white” posts that the net is full of. The truth from a business point of view is that bosses want to see results, and often playing by the rules can be a long road to success. So how do you get the balance right between goody-two-shoes web marketing and downright dastardly “black-hat” approaches?

Throw All of your Hats into the Bin

Before you look to “algorithm proof” your website, you need to decide if it’s even important to do so. If you are selling a seasonal product and have a number of well ranked websites then it might not matter if your methods are deemed worthy of punishment by Google. So long as your livelihood isn’t dependant on one site ranking well, you aren’t necessarily tied to what Google deems to be fair.

There are many articles written on white vs. black hat approaches but in the cold hard world of business, a more pragmatic approach is needed than simply wearing different coloured hats.

However, if the success of your website is keeping people in a job and you are trying to convey an online image of quality, then quite frankly you would be crazy to risk it all by spamming your way to the top. Know what you want to achieve, know what Google likes, learn what actually works and analyse your options accordingly.

If your business depends on sustained online success, your marketing strategy should reflect this through quality link building and award winning content. Get this right and you won’t need to worry too much when the next algorithm change comes knocking on your virtual door.

Don’t Just Rely on One Method

This is fairly self-explanatory. If your entire web marketing effort relies on just one or two methods you are leaving yourself wide open to get Google-spanked should the next big change not agree with your strategy. If your link building efforts revolve around just comment spamming blogs and building profile links, you could be crying into your morning coffee come the next big change.

The solution? All things in moderation. It’s common sense, if you are building your linking strategy on shaky ground, don’t be surprised if it all comes tumbling down.

Build Your Strategy Like You Would a House

Tacky metaphor time, but please bear with me. If you have decided that it isn’t worth risking yours and everyone else’s jobs by spamming your way to the top then you will need a quality link building strategy, so get in touch with your inner builder!

Every strategy needs a firm foundation, so look to build your strategy on quality links gained from strong sources. Guest blogging, quality directories and press releases will get you a few of these and it is an effective way of kicking off your campaign.

After you have a strong foundation you can build your wooden framework. These will be links from blogs and forums, profile and comment links that every site will need but that won’t be overly effective in isolation. Spread them out a bit, avoid automation and try and have something to say. Just because they are comment links it doesn’t mean that they have to be spam.

Then you will need the brick exterior that will protect your website. Should Google decide to kick away your wooden foundation links, these brick ones will hold your whole campaign together. Become an authority in your niche and show your knowledge through quality content and give people knowledge that they are actually looking for. It is this quality approach that will mean that should Google ever spring a surprise algorithm change, your website will be well positioned to ride out the storm.

How do you plan to survive the next big Google algorithm change? I am looking forward to your comments below!

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About the author:

 How Can the Social Revolution Help the B2B Search Marketer?Alan Grainger is an in-house B2B web marketer and manages the SEO for The Promotional Gifts Company, a leading UK specialist in the promotional products sector. He writes articles exploring the issues faced by the B2B web marketer, giving an “in the trenches” view from an in-house SEO department.

 

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How to Get Over “Bloggers’ Block”

Rather than being an unfortunate illness that befalls those who share their thoughts online, “Bloggers Block” is the blogging version of writer’s block, and it happens to us all.

Whether you write a blog for a business, a hobby or just for recreation, chances are that you will have had that moment when you pull up the chair to the computer and end up just staring at a blank screen for hours on end.

When you’re paid to blog for a business and the traffic your blog brings is vital for bringing in leads, blaming writer’s block may not be met with a great deal of enthusiasm from those above, so what should you do if you find yourself struck with a writer’s worst nightmare?

Calm Down!

One of the worst things you can do when you are struggling for inspiration is get yourself worked up. It can be immensely frustrating when you are struggling for words and it is only made worse when you can feel the boss’s eyes burrowing in to the back of your head.

If at the start of the day the words just aren’t flowing, take a walk around the office, go on a coffee run or just go for some air for five minutes. You will often find that your inspiration is more likely to come when you aren’t trying to force it.

No joy? Then try…

Reading the News

News is everywhere. It is available 24 hours a day and you can find out what’s going on in every corner of the planet. If your brain isn’t giving you the answers you are looking for then the news websites might!

Somewhere, something will being going on that you can relate back to your business or interest. Whether it’s economic news, industry gossip or just something that you can draw parallels to in your arena, it is all fair game for blogging on.

By flicking through some of my own old blogs you will see posts that centre around football, the economy and any number of seemingly unrelated news stories that my inspiration starved brain has managed to make relevant, so if you’re still finding things tough, hit the various news websites and try your luck there. Make it good enough and you can even reshape it into a press release, giving your blog/company’s view on the news stories of the day. It might just give you some visibility and a few extra juicy links.

Ok Alan, it’s now half past 12, I’ve been staring at the screen for 3 and a half hours and my boss’s looks are turning into glares! The walk didn’t help and I spent an hour reading about celebrities on the news websites, now what?!

If all else fails, you can always try….

Write About Your Writer’s Block!

I know, it sounds a bit lame but it can really help to get the juices flowing. If all that is going through your mind is how you can’t think of anything to write, then write about it! It might turn into something that you can host on your blog or it could start the processes working in your mind so that you can come up with something better. Either way, it is a great way of jump starting your brain, and more importantly letting your boss see that you are doing some work!

So what can you take away from this blog? Well the key things to remember are;

Don’t PanicPressure is the writer’s worst enemy so if you feel yourself getting tense, do something to relieve the tension.

Seek Inspiration Elsewhere You are only an internet connection away from a whole world of inspiration, just make sure it doesn’t turn in to another distraction!

Write About Your Writer’s Block – It’s happening, it’s all you can think about and it is taking over your day, so just write about the thoughts that are going through your head! It might not be something you can end up using but it could be just what you need to get the creative juices flowing. Do it well enough and you could even end up using it as a guest blog….

There’s plenty you can do to break the curse of bloggers block, so don’t let it ruin your day and see how many different ways there are to find a little creative inspiration.

How do you get over boggers’ block? I am looking forward to your comments below!

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About the author:

 How Can the Social Revolution Help the B2B Search Marketer?Alan Grainger is an in-house B2B web marketer and manages the SEO for The Corporate Gifts Company, a leading UK specialist in the business gifts sector. He writes articles exploring the issues faced by the B2B web marketer, giving an “in the trenches” view from an in-house SEO department.

 

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How Can the Social Revolution Help the B2B Search Marketer?

SEO is dead, long live social! It seems that any Google algorithm change or advance by one of the social networks will breed a hundred articles along the lines of that headline, but those of us who understand a bit more about web marketing know that all things need to be considered in moderation.

There’s no doubting the fact that social networks are playing more of an important role in the way the web works, with people using Facebook to track down local suppliers and Google admitting that it now uses social factors when compiling its rankings.

There’s also set to be more integration between the search engines and your social networks, with Google displaying websites that your Facebook Friends have recommended in its SERPS.

Google have even gone so far as to develop their own social signal, +1, which will enable people to show which websites they like by clicking a button, much in the same way the Facebook “Like” button works.

It is this cross platform integration that is causing the most excitement at the moment, with web marketers predicting it will change the entire way in which people find websites on the internet. But before we get too carried away, it is important to consider who this won’t effect, as well as who it will.

Cross Platform Integration

Us internet marketers are a pretty switched on bunch. We’re always signed into Google, our Facebook profiles are always open and we could Tweet from the North Pole if we chose to.

So when you see results pages in Google with which of your Friends has tweeted about a certain website or who has “Liked” a particular company it’s pretty easy to get excited about a new way of searching.

But stop for a second. Just because as a search marketer you are always signed into Facebook and Google at the same time and you always have your accounts active, does the average searcher?

Just because it is possible to integrate information between different platforms, it is still a massive leap between this capability and everyone on the web being able to see it. Some people don’t have a Facebook or Twitter account. Some people don’t have a Google account.

Some people search Google without being signed in to Facebook at all. Personalised search of this kind depends on many variables being in place at once for it to work and the more variables there are, the less take-up a particular service will have.

What About B2B?

B2B web marketers should get a lot less excited by every announcement coming out of Silicon Valley. Google integrations with social media platforms are a great idea in theory, but unlike the wonderful world of web marketing, your average office worker is more likely to receive a disciplinary than see your company displayed in the SERPS by being logged in to Facebook at work.

Big companies have measures in place to stop employees from straying off topic when browsing the web, and to the average business owner, Facebook is well and truly off topic! The image of Facebook as a place to go to chat to your friends and spy on lovers past is too engrained for it to be allowed at work, no matter how relevant your searches might be because of it.

If you are a B2B marketer and office workers are your target, it might be a while before you need to worry about social media integration interfering with the SERPs in your niche.

This isn’t to say that it’s not important to have a social media presence, it still is. Social media can be a fantastic resource to find people who are interested in your niche and provide a great way to interact with customers who are interested in your services.

The integration between the social networks and the search engines is still in its infancy, as are social factors being used as a ranking factor, but this can be expected to grow in time as Google seems to be finally embracing Facebook and Twitter.

What is important to bear in mind however is to treat each announcement from Silicon Valley on its own merits and apply every change that will affect your niche as you see fit. Jumping on every bandwagon will simply be a waste of time and resources, so before you get excited about the next big announcement, make sure that it is actually applicable to you, and more importantly, your target audience.

How does  social media helps your B2B search? I am looking forward to your comments below!

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About the author:

Alan GraingerAlan Grainger is an in-house B2B web marketer and manages the SEO for The Corporate Gifts Company, a leading UK specialist in the business gifts sector. He writes articles exploring the issues faced by the B2B web marketer, giving an “in the trenches” view from an in-house SEO department.

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Social Revolution Help the B2B Search Marketer
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