Can you run a successful website without Google? I would say ‘yes’, but it’s hard with the current state of marketing. When you have Google on your side, it speeds up your race to success. Without Google, it takes more effort and more creativity; you have to be a fighter just as much as a marketer.
If you are dealing with a Google penalty, you’re probably struggling to sustain your company’s website traffic. Some marketers and managers choose to jump ship or start fresh. But that means losing years of efforts, partnerships and sacrifices.
You don’t need to do this. It’s enough to embrace the fighter’s philosophy and seek alternative ways to drive traffic and customers while your team works to lift the penalty.
The benefit? When Google restores your website health in their index, these alternative ways of maintaining page rank are there to stay and will continue to complement your organic efforts.
Lean On Your Existing Customers
“I guess the penalty may be a good signal that it’s time to rethink your site, its visitors and your loyalty tactics,” says Ann Smarty of MyBlogU and MyBlogGuest, who wrote an insightful Google penalty case study on ThreadWatch.org.
Ann and her team felt that the Google penalty was actually positive to their business and it was an eye-opener, for it forced them to rethink their business approach; more specifically, to focus on “reaching higher conversion rates and diversifying our marketing”.
“One of the first things to do under a penalty is to audit your existing marketing efforts,” adds Google penalty expert Casey Markee. “Go back to your current customers and make sure you are getting the most value possible out of that relationship.”
Customer relationship is key:
- Can your current customers help spread the word about your business?
- Would they be available to leave customer reviews, interviews, and testimonials?
- Would they be happy to try new products and services and give you valuable feedback?
When your business and your customers form a community, you don’t have to worry about Google’s changes anymore, because your boat won’t sink.
Social Media Marketing
I’m sure you were already engaged in social media marketing, but now that you’re facing a Google penalty, you will have to spend more time and resources to leverage this asset.
Casey Markee says that “most businesses still don’t embrace social ads even though Facebook Mobile ads are killing it with CTR conversions as high as 13 percent for quality content.” He also adds that he has “penalty clients immediately move money to mobile ads as a way to generate lift to their website during turbulent times.”
“The trick to diversifying traffic away from Google is finding ways to lure in niche communities and visitors”, says Gary Dek at Gajizmo.com. “For example, creating beautiful and inspirational pinnable images that summarize your articles can be a great way to get Pinterest traffic. For Twitter, you really need to focus on outreach with influencers to get your content exposed to the masses. Finally, guest contributions to high-traffic sites such as Forbes, HuffPost, or US News can lead to consistent referral traffic.”
Sustainable traffic and sales sources
It’s not just Google out there. And there’s more than just search engines to make a website into a remunerative business.
Your best marketing assets are a nose away from you, and under your control: your business message and the community you create around it.
One of my current clients, Jerry Low from WebHostingSecretRevealed.net, wrote an eye-opening article at TwelveSkip about how he found alternative traffic sources while he worked to rebuild his website after a Google penalty killed his previous efforts. In short, he focused on community-generated traffic. When Google killed a few of my websites, I followed in his footsteps and traffic kept coming in.
Below are 11 ways to keep your website traffic sustainable and your sales funnel always full.
From Google AdSense to services like Chikita or SpeedyAds, PPC is a kind of advertising that will always get you some traffic, even if only just a little. Ads are in front of web users all day long and they’re bound to get some clicks sooner or later. Some of those clicks will convert, because, among the curious who comes to learn more about you, someone will turn into a buyer.
Casey Markee says that “you want to replace the lost traffic and referrals and you need to do it quickly. There is no faster way to do that than starting or increasing your pay-per-click spends.”
The most effective way to do that? Have your team write and design landing pages your users will love. Above all, make sure those landing pages answer every important question and help the visitor get rid of any doubts. A visitor who feels understood, protected and taken care of is a visitor who easily turns into a buyer.
List building (newsletters, direct mail, mailing lists)
Nurture your existing customers and attract new leads to your business by way of a helpful and attractive newsletter, direct mail special offers for your most affectionate fans, or some other kind of beneficial, personalized messaging.
Keep these four simple rules in mind:
- Be helpful
- Provide quality content that’s professionally written
- Design your messaging to be visually attractive
- Make a print-friendly version if the assets you are offering are digital
Ideally, your subscribers will be so happy and grateful for the information they will print the asset out, use it as a reference and keep coming back for more.
Brand mentions (especially link-free brand mentions) are underrated. Even without a link to your site, search engines can detect and recognize brand mentions.
“Use tools like the Moz Fresh Web Explorer or Mention.net to find and convert existing brand mentions to spur future links and traffic while combatting a penalty,” Markee advises, “Then keep doing this as a long-term strategy.”
Relevant comments on blogs in the same industry/niche
Jeevan Jacob John from Daring Blogger agrees that blog commenting can be “time-consuming, but very effective, especially at building relationships. Of course, you won’t be getting the big numbers right away. Traffic is long term here.”
Out of all the marketing activities, commenting is the most rewarding at a human level (not just at the backlink level), so don’t treat it like a chore, but do it with an open mind and an open heart.
When you run into a business that’s similar to yours, or a group of bloggers who could be interested in helping you spread the word, don’t just smile and leave – get in touch with them.
Building and cultivating relationships with like-minded companies and influencers are one of the first steps to an evergreen business. Algorithms are subject to change and are out of your control, but real relationships with real people are there to stay (as long as you are nice, helpful and non-opportunist, of course).
What should you outreach for?
- To offer free assets or trials
- To network and get to know each other because you’re in the same niche or vertical
- To send invitations for a free event or a webinar
- To let them know about a great resource you found online
Email outreach is a form of warm prospecting that won’t scare your interlocutor and will lower their shield of diffidence. In three words: You build trust.
Webinars and informative videos
For many people, information relayed in a video is easier to digest than reading it. It’s why services like YouTube and Vimeo see such high traffic numbers every month.
That means that your business can benefit from a series of video tutorials, lectures or webinar recordings, according to what best suits your niche. This is especially true if you use YouTube as a platform.
“YouTube is the second largest search engine next to Google,” says Greg DiVilbiss from High Performance Living, and “of course it is owned by Google as well. By ranking videos you can get quite a bit of traffic.”
However, I would recommend to also self-host some of your most important videos because you own your own platform and are not subject to YouTube’s terms of service.
Can the offline world save your penalty-plagued business? It can. Casey Markee suggests you “evaluate your offline marketing focus. If Google went out of business tomorrow, would your business survive?”
He adds, “I’ve had clients (while fighting a Google penalty) move funds into local sponsorships, radio ads, and print media. All can result in noticeable returns.”
There are lots of ways to grow your online business in the offline world: Be a speaker at conferences, meet with clubs and associations, sponsor and attend a charity or industry event. As long as you can provide real value, the possibilities are endless.
Guest blogging with readership-specific freebies
Jeevan from Daring Blogger says that guest posting is “perhaps the best method, because it also includes commenting (replying to the comments you receive). Write for another website, give them your best piece. Impress the audience enough, and they will come back to your blog to check out more!”
And as Jeffrey Romano from WP Lighthouse remarks, “guest blogging (…) is a good way to develop relationships with other bloggers; definitely a long-term benefit. All these benefits will help you drive traffic to your website both in the short-term and in the long-term.”
“Ask the expert” panels
You can build an “Ask the expert” panel at live events, host one digitally on your website or have your own ‘expert column’ in an industry magazine or blog.
Either way, your brand has an opportunity to stand out and put its most important spokespeople on stage with a panel (online or offline) or a column. It’s branding at its best.
Same ole same ole, right? Press releases are an old old way to get the word out about your business, but old doesn’t equal obsolete.
Press releases are still going strong and they could safely be considered a type of evergreen marketing.
“Push clients to sign-up and use syndicated content platforms like Outbrain and Taboola,” says Casey Markee, “This allows penalty-afflicted clients a relatively quick avenue to replace lost organic traffic by driving targeted traffic to their best content.”
Many webmasters fear syndication because they mistake it for duplicate content, but it’s not. Proper syndication uses the rel=”canonical” attribute – a quick technical gimmick that will ensure search engines won’t mistake your syndicated content for duplicate content. Here’s what Google has to say about the practice.
Don’t end up like the forlorn Webmaster World users who jumped ship or started fresh after receiving a penalty from Google. Keep yourself out of a compromised situation in the first place by not putting all your eggs in one basket and diversifying owned and earned media strategies from the onset. Build a robust community of users and customers, engage them on a variety of channels and keep them informed with remarkable content and you’ll (hopefully) remain penalty-free.