Thousands of websites have published millions of posts on the subject of getting your site ranked on Google, pulling in Google traffic and growing your site using Google as a resource. And why not? Google is well positioned as the dominant force in search. It would be years, decades before an upstart could outmaneuver and surpass Google’s market share.
The problem is not with Google disappearing, of course. The problem can be seen in action, in fact, because it’s happened several times before. Just look at the massive shakeups that happen with ecommerce when Google’s updates hit; Panda, Penguin, Pigeon and the smaller, unnamed updates. Entire businesses can be destroyed over night, in some cases literally. Google has incredible power, and businesses are only safe because the company claims it won’t use it.
Instead of putting all of your traffic-related eggs in one basket, it’s a much better idea to diversify and find traffic from other locations. If more than 50% of your traffic comes from Google, you’re in a precarious position. Always consider what might happen to your business if your Google ranking drops and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Yes, if you’re overly reliant on Google, you need to diversify. You also should take steps to make sure you’re as resistant to a Google adjustment as possible. Anything other than the whitest of white hat techniques should be pruned from your arsenal. Disavow any bad links you find in a link report. Pare down your keyword emphasis to the bare minimum. Pack every blog post with value. Make sure you’re following all of Google’s various code and schema rules. In short; do everything you can to make yourself as little like a target for a penalty as possible.
PPC advertising is a form of traffic that is divested from the organic search results in many ways. You don’t need to rely on your own ranking; your site appears in the rankings regardless. As long as you’re pulling in a positive ROI from your PPC advertising, you can afford to keep it going indefinitely.
On one hand, you’re going to want to use Google’s AdWords platform for a lot of your PPC. It’s robust, it’s agile, it’s powerful and it’s effective. It’s also some of the most expensive, but you can minimize costs through creative keyword research.
You’re also going to want to invest in Facebook PPC, at least for the foreseeable future. Facebook may have peaked, and it may be on a slow decline, but it’s not going to die completely right away. By the time it does, it will have been replaced by another platform with an equally robust PPC scheme, most likely, and you’ll be able to transition.
Providing value on your site means two things. First, you need to provide value in your content. Every blog post, every page, needs to be maximized in the value per word ratio. Prune out unnecessary fluff. Organize your thoughts and format them for easy skimming and readability. Pull out all the stops to give your readers some reason to read your content. More importantly, give them enough value that they come back time and again, even without using Google to do so. Direct traffic – traffic from people who type your URL or use a bookmark – is incredibly important.
Second, you need to make sure your site is organized in a way that allows users to access the information you provide. If all of your blog posts have URLs with a string of numbers, and your titles are generic, and your blog is buried three clicks deep from your homepage, you’re doing yourself no favors. Make your blog accessible. At the very least, install a custom site search plugin, so users can search through your content to find what may interest them.
As an author and thought leader, you have the opportunity to approach other blogs with your opinions and resources. You can obtain positions on their blogs as irregular contributors or as guest posters. As long as you’re providing a high amount of value, you’re not going to run the risk of a guest posting penalty or unnatural link building. Instead, you’re going to have legitimate content on blogs other than the one you own.
The point of guest posting is to spread your name and URL around and further establish yourself as a thought leader; as someone people turn to for insight into your industry. Once you do this, you’ll be in demand amongst other bloggers and readers in your industry. As you establish a presence on more sites, more readers who don’t visit your blog will be enticed to do so. This pulls in traffic you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, which you can then convert into direct traffic, newsletter traffic or another form of non-Google-reliant traffic.
Social media has many of the same problems as over-reliance on Google. If you’re spending too much time for too little return, you’re wasting time. If you’re spending time and getting a huge return, it’s all too easy to lapse and let it dominate your traffic sources.
When operating under the assumption that most of your traffic comes from Google, however, you can stand to invest more time – or invest your time more intelligently – on social media. Leverage Facebook and Twitter primarily. Google+ you can take or leave. It has benefits for Google, though they have dropped since Authorship ended, and it does appeal to certain users. Instagram is great, as is YouTube, if you can leverage the types of content necessary to take advantage of the platforms. Always keep your eye out for new social media platforms under heavy adoption by your users.
People tend to safeguard their email addresses much more carefully than they do their social media profiles. If a user is opting in to your mailing address, it’s a huge sign of trust and an indicator that they’re interested in what you have to say – and what you have to sell.
Email is also much more important than social media to most people. It’s a means of professional communication, not just recreation. That means most people are checking their email with relative frequency, and they’re less likely to ignore an email than they are a social media post.
Email readers are also more easily captivated by what you have to say. They’re in a receptive mode just from opening your message, and you have an easy opportunity to leverage that receptivity. And, of course, email is completely independent from Google and other search engines. Even if Facebook, Google and their associated platforms disappeared tomorrow, you’d still have your mailing list.
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