Undoubtedly, the world is changing — fast — in the search engine optimization world. Measures which would have “worked” just a year or two ago, will now penalize your site to purgatory. Even doing good things right isn’t enough these days.
As an example, this blog has lost much of its search engine juice, at least for the keywords “construction marketing”, while it remains powerfully effective for the much-less-frequently searched term “construction marketing ideas”. I don’t think the blog has violated the rules for keyword stuffing, and it clearly contains original content. Even more significantly, I belong to a rather small group of about 400 people world wide deemed by Google as Top Contributors on the company’s help forums. This allows us a higher level of access to Google staff and sometimes the opportunity to participate in early product tests and roll-outs. This status hasn’t helped this blog’s search engine rankings and, interestingly, some of my peers are reporting similar frustrating problems with their own blogs and sites — and many of them have businesses which are much more search-result dependant than mine.
I’ve also noticed much more dramatic search results fluctuations. For example, for a few weeks, it seems, this blog dropped off first page completely — then reappeared, moving up the ranks, only to drop again. The other (older) Construction Marketing Ideas blog at www.constructionmarketingideas.blogspot.com has also moved around the rankings. (The citations here might help, or hurt, my rankings — it seems too many references to blogs/sites run afoul of keyword stuffing controls, so I may be setting myself up for a fail here.)
Of course, search results are now increasingly personalized, based on your profile, whether you allow interest-based tracking, your physical location and so on. So the search results you see when you search your own computer won’t necessarily be what others see. You can check this by visiting others’ computers or using proxy server services such as hidemyass.com, which allow you to see what Google is telling viewers in other communities/markets.
The challenge here, of course, is what you should do with this information. Undoubtedly, if you can reach first place in the Google rankings for keywords relevant to your business, you’ll see a dramatic increase in business. Top spot really pays — if you can get there, you’ll be on the top of the world. But this, as I’ve noted earlier, is harder and harder to achieve. You probably will need to use (possibly expensive) search engine management consultants to pull it off — and — here is the catch — most of the “consultants” who approach you to sell their services are frauds, selling outdated tricks, or simply don’t know what they are doing.
Accordingly, I’ll make some suggestions that may not be state-of the-art — after all, I’ve been knocked off my pedestal. However, these ideas will keep you out of trouble and may help you restore or achieve your search engine rankings.
Don’t try to hard on your own. This may seem counterintuitive, but excessive gaming to win search engine ranking will set you up against the bots.
Generate true, original, and helpful content — without worrying about how many keywords you use. Be moderate in self-promotion. Tell good things about the topics you can be authorative about; communicate necessary information effectively.
Use video. Google owns YouTube, so videos, especially helpful how-to type videos can be effective.
Blogging is good, but isn’t the magic end-all of a few years ago. (I know, this blog propelled me to number one, and now I’m not there any more.)
Seek out truly competent consultants. Ignore any proposals you receive unsolicited by email, spam phone calls, or any outbound marketing. Go with referrals from people you know and trust, who have highly ranked websites. Best idea: Through your industry association, you probably can find other members with similar businesses in other, non-competitive markets similar to yours. Call them and learn who they are using as consultants, or what they are doing. Once you build a short list, you’ll be able to decide who to use, and how much you need to pay.
You can help me (and yourself) with a free and simple test. Key the words “construction marketing” without a quote, take a screen shot, and email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll reciprocate with a search from my own computer of your selected keywords. Lets see how what we see on our own is the same or different to what others see.