SEO: The Difference Between Whiners and Winners
In the last year and a half Google has implemented many well-known patches to its algorithm. Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird are now household names for anyone who does even a very minimal amount of SEO work on websites, but Hummingbird was the most recent major change and it was announced almost a year ago on Sept. 26.
With the search giants staying quiet for months, XBIZ World asked insiders what trends organic traffic is following during this period of surprisingly stable Internet architecture.
“The biggest trend affecting the greatest number of adult sites recently is the diminishing value of link trades,” said Adrian DeGus of Adult SEO Partners. “Some sites that used to rely on link trades for rankings and traffic are now being devalued because of them. Even sites that don’t actively trade links, but have links from sites that do, are being negatively affected by them. This is because link trading in adult was relied on so heavily for so long that we now have ‘link trading neighborhoods.’ just as we have bad site neighborhoods for other negative practices such as spam and malware. So, a blog that once traded links with other blogs that traded links form a network of sites that is no longer advisable to get links from and finding quality links has become more difficult.”
Compounding the obstacles in place due to being lumped in as part of a fictitious ‘bad neighborhood’ online, the sites that actually are bad actors continue to gain undeniable Search rank benefits as a direct reward for their misuse of property that does not belong to them.
“Search engines often favor results from file sharing sites, making it hard for many sites — even those investing heavily in proper SEO — to get high rankings,” said C.R. Brown aka Kroy, owner of Kroy.com. “Many program owners will find that doing a Google search with one of their model names, plus the site URL yields a slew of links to pirated content. Even surfers ready and willing to buy have a hard time doing so because, frankly, piracy sites all but drown out the original content creator. Unless Google and others change their stance, and bring the pendulum back in favor of content makers, site owners will gradually invest less time in organic marketing methods and less time in creating the quality content that piracy sites rely on. In the long-term view it’s the content makers rather than thieves and viewers who are actually the key to search business models. Until Google changes its policies this is an uphill battle, but failing to change them may bring Google downhill faster than some believe is possible.”
Also piling on to the quandary faced by many webmasters focused on organic traffic is the fact that links, even the truly natural ones, are attracting a far lower CTR in many instances than they used to - which is leading some toward social media marketing as a safer play.
“As social media and blogs become saturated with links, people are clicking less because they are trusting less,” said Lauren MacEwen of 7Veils.com “Content marketers increase their quantity to compensate for the decrease in actionable results. However more content does not equal more clicks, or quality clicks. Quality results come from quality sources. Social media is the best source for “word of mouth” marketing. If your link gets posted by one reputable source, you are far more likely to get clicks, and actions, than 100 bot accounts. When an influential person tweets, or posts, your link, you are borrowing their authority. Their reputation is saying that your link offers value and can be trusted.”
Making the matter more murky are the moves top-level industry giants have made recently. The FCC has seemingly acquiesced entirely on the net neutrality rules they championed until recently. Now ISPs are free to charge additional fees for better connection speeds and Netflix has already famously paid out millions of dollars for fast-lane service from Comcast and others. The recent buyout of DirecTV by AT&T shows that consolidation is far from finished and speed itself may soon come with a hefty price tag. That’s particularly interesting for organic traffic experts because Google has always said faster loading pages will rank better than slower pages. They even went so far as to release a tool specifically designed to help site owners speed up page loads: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
However, in a marketplace where the best load times go to those who will pay for them, rather than those with the best or most relevant content, is page load speed about to become a much less significant signal than it once was in the recent past? One SEO expert who asked not to be named put it this way “I wouldn’t go slowing down my server to mess with it, but I’m not putting as much time into optimizing load times as I was a few months ago. These days time on site and bounce are safer signals and going after them often means sacrificing some load speed along the way.”
One thing remains abundantly clear. Even in periods of apparent stasis, real SEO experts are hard at work looking for any fractional advantage they can get for their sites and their clients. Doing what works is a short term strategy. Doing what will continue to work and evolving ahead of the curve is what actually keeps organic traffic coming every month. In periods like this one where the Search giants are uncharacteristically quiet, stagnation or waiting for their next move are traps to avoid. Now is the time to experiment, find new strategies and diversify your SEO efforts to solidify your gains or reduce any eventual losses when changes are introduced down the road that whiners will complain about. In almost every facet of SEO, the difference between whiners and winners is the way companies utilize the time between crisis events.