Why I Don’t Worry About Pandas or Penguins or Whatever Else Google’s Up To

Are you feeling scared of Pandas and Penguins lately?  If you follow Google’s changes and updates you might be.

But here’s why I’m not worried about what Google’s up to, other than my usual web marketing geekiness that compels me to keep up with what they’re up to…

If you’re doing things right, building multiple traffic sources (and your email list!) and not trying to sneak in “black hat” search engine optimization techniques, you’re probably going to be just fine.

One of the lessons I’ve learned is to never rely on one source of traffic, especially when you can’t control it.  I don’t control Google, or Bing, or Facebook, or Twitter, or Pinterest, and the list goes on… it’s smart to leverage all of them for traffic back to your website, but it’s not smart to depend on any one source for all your traffic.

The last several major updates that Google’s pushed out haven’t hurt my traffic.  My search engine traffic, as well as traffic overall, has steadily grown for the last several years.

It’s because I focus on two things and follow one simple rule that allow me to get nice streams of traffic not just from Google and the search engines but also from the social networks, links I’ve built online, and my ezine list.

1. Create Awesome Content

Creating awesome content means I focus on answering the questions my readers (and potential readers) are asking and do my best to deliver value in every post I share.

Usually it means I write the content myself.  Sometimes it means I share cool people with you that I’ve run across in my business.

It always means writing headlines and subheadlines that are appropriate and fit my content.  It always means writing for my readers and not the search engines (I don’t have to worry about the “over-optimization” that Google’s after in their latest update, I’m not stuffing keywords into every sentence and my keyword stemming happens naturally).

We’re not robots.  Let’s not sound like them.  Boooooring and hard to read.

It’s not about creating a content farm with thousands of articles.  It’s not about rehashing what someone else wrote with only minor edits so you don’t feel like you copied them (trust me, as someone who regularly spots my content on other blogs, the author knows when you’ve done this) or spinning my own articles.  It’s not about accepting all sorts of paid links and paid posts to make quick cash.  (If you don’t know what content farms, article spinning, or paid links/posts are, that’s cool, they’re all options that require walking very carefully so you don’t shoot yourself in the foot for search engine positioning.)

2. Build Links Naturally

When you create awesome content, then work to get it noticed on the social networks, people will link to you naturally.

And when you interact with others, comment on their blogs, and follow good basic online marketing practices you’ll find that the links you’ve built aren’t “suspect” to Google because they’re to different pages on your site, with different anchor text, and from a variety of websites.

Trying to get 1000 sites (any sites that will swap links, even if they aren’t related to your topic/focus) to link to you using the exact same anchor text, is going to come across as spammy.  It’s not natural link building and it doesn’t drive ideal traffic to you anyway.

Why does Google care?  Because they’re looking to deliver the best content in their results.  If you’re sharing good content, people will link to you and share you, and then Google will spot that and see those links as “votes” for you.  Yes, this means you’ve got to do some work to get your content out there.  Do the work.

3. Don’t Try to Game the Search Engines

This is where the problems start.  When we think we can game the search engines… yeah, it might work this week, maybe even next week or next month.  But eventually the game will be over.

Are good search engine optimization basics worth knowing?  Absolutely!!  If you don’t understand how the search engines work, it’s worth your time to study from a reputable source.  But don’t let the allure of “black hat” strategies that promise to get you to #1 on Google by tomorrow draw you in.  Anyone that tells you that is either going to tell you to buy PPC ads (that can get you on page 1 at Google overnight, of course, and is a legit option), suggest keywords no one is actually searching for, or just might be trying to game Google with sneaky tricks.

Think long term instead of quick gains.  Build up content that will attract ideal readers to you and keep delivering content your readers want. 

Don’t do what seems “easy” today.  Swapping links with any site that will swap, stuffing in keywords and over optimizing text, and reprinting endless articles or spinning your own like crazy, will hurt you in the long run — and not just with search engines!

Keep your readers as your top focus. 

Do readers want to see 10 versions of the same article on your blog?  Do they want to read text so filled with one keyword phrase that it feels like you can’t speak English?  No!  So don’t do it.

Focus on them.  If you don’t, you’ll lose them and where you rank in the search engines won’t matter because those who do find you won’t stick around long enough to attempt reading your content.

Your Turn…

What do you think?  Do the updates strike fear into your heart everytime you hear about another one that’s out?  Or do you follow an approach similar to mine?  What’s working for you?

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36 Comments

  1. Your techniques are spot on what I believe! Thank you Michelle for being a rockstar :)

    MJ Schrader
    MJ Schrader recently posted… Branding In Your Mission StatementMy Profile

    1. Hey thanks, MJ — I’d figure we’d be on the same page with this one. ;)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Time Out on the Doom and Gloom…It’s Your Economy!My Profile

  2. I think you’re right. And everyone wasting money on things like SEO optimization would get much more if they invested with you instead. :-)
    Amethyst Mahoney recently posted… ReTweet to WinMy Profile

    1. It’s one of those things that I think people really need to look at what their big picture strategy is AND who they’re hiring. There are some excellent SEO people out there who can deliver good value, but there are many more out there who aren’t concerned about long term success for their clients. There are other marketing strategies that I think give us more bang for our buck. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Do YOU Have a Bullseye Painted on You?My Profile

  3. Michelle – I have to agree … when you optimise and over-optimise according to one update or another you are setting your site up without a look at longevity.

    I think SEO optimization is important – if not correctly, but it is only part of the whole picture.
    Katrina Moody recently posted… What is Autism Awareness in Action?My Profile

    1. Right! Because every update it’s something different to worry about. If we just focus on getting the basics right, we’re so much futher ahead. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Five Ways Your Blog Can Make You MoneyMy Profile

  4. I have to agree with Amethyst on this one ;) for me personally, the whole SEO thing turns my brains to mush. I understand it and I totally get it, but it is not my main focus when I blog. I like writing … I love writing actually and if I worry about what keywords to use, or what the search engines are going to freak out about (although I don’t use sneaky, underhanded tactics like others do) — it would take me all day to get one post written LOLz

    So … no .. I am not worried and I let my writing do my seo for me … naturally and organically :)
    Kimberly ~ Gypsy recently posted… Make Your 404 Error Page Work For You, Not Against You!My Profile

    1. You aren’t alone, Kimberly. I know some folks spend more time on SEO than they do on the actual content creation. And if that works for them, cool. But it’s not my focus. I’d rather not give myself a headache figuring out the perfect keyword density. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Why I Don’t Worry About Pandas or Penguins or Whatever Else Google’s Up ToMy Profile

  5. Your blog has been such value to me I actually named you as one of my 5 “jewels” of blogging in my Blogging Basics Series this week. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
    Amberr Meadows recently posted… How to Resign From Your Job With DignityMy Profile

    1. Wow, thank you, Amberr. I appreciate that. I’m so glad you’ve found value in what I’ve shared and you’re very welcome.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Do You Want to Get Real Results From Your Blog?My Profile

  6. Absolutely Michelle!

    I don’t think I care much for these updates that tend to get people worried and stressed out. I guess if you are doing your bit by writing good content that’s liked by people – you are doing good and eventually people will start noticing that and link back to you, and even if they don’t you are doing your best, which is what matters most – isn’t it?

    Thanks for sharing, it’s always a pleasure to learn a great deal from your blog. :)
    Harleena Singh recently posted… Why Mothers are Special People?My Profile

    1. I don’t think it’s worth getting so stressed out about, either. I had so many people ask me if their sites were going to be hurt by the latest updates and for most of us it’s nothing to lose sleep over. Google just automated something they’ve been doing by hand forever, to filter out sites that weren’t building links naturally, and it’s something they warned us against so it’s not news that they don’t like it.

      Getting those links naturally by getting people to notice our content works. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Don’t Make it Pretty, Make it WorkMy Profile

  7. Thank you for this great information. I have been doing a lot of reading about all the ‘ways’ to get to the top of Google and was a bit weary of them. This is good sound advise and definitely the way forward for me.
    Cathy recently posted… Blackberry and Lemon Buttermilk Breakfast CakeMy Profile

    1. Hey Cathy, there’s so much out there, it can get confusing and overwhelming. So many different strategies.

      Best place to start if you want to rank well? Just read Google’s advice for webmasters, and focus on creating content for your readers. That will never go out of style no matter how many updates Google releases.

  8. Trying to game the system is indeed foolish, and yet some gurus advocate doing just that.

    I’m happy that we have a knowledgeable blogger like you to give us great guidance.
    Flora Morris Brown, Ph.D. recently posted… What Can You Learn About Life from a Dog?My Profile

    1. Yep. And then they have to scramble every time Google catches up and filters out their crazy games.

      It’s kind of like the tortoise and the hare. Sure, we can drive ourselves crazy trying to stay ahead of all of it. Or we can go slow and steady, doing the basics right, and eventually win the race. ;)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Don’t Make it Pretty, Make it WorkMy Profile

  9. Michelle, this is just what I needed to hear today. I have read so much stuff regarding pandas and penguins (most of which goes over my head). I am going to write my content to the best of my ability and let nature take its course. If I continue with the basics every day, I will succeed. Thanks a ton :-)

    1. That really is the key, Wade. Just be consistent and focus on good content. No matter how many times they change the ranking algorithm, that will keep working. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Don’t Make it Pretty, Make it WorkMy Profile

  10. Hi Michelle thanks for sharing the tips. Best tips that I implement myself is blogging as usual and start build backlinks normally. Do avoid blackhat stuff and you’ll be fine.
    Becca recently posted… Valera Theme – Business Corporate WordPress ThemeMy Profile

  11. I agree 100%. Forget about tricks and strategies. Write useful content from the heart, be patient and the traffic will come.
    Neil Butterfield recently posted… Being Bananas About PotassiumMy Profile

    1. Exactly. It’d be nice if we could skip the patience part, and there are things we can do to help get out there in a bigger way, but it does take time.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Don’t Make it Pretty, Make it WorkMy Profile

  12. Hi Michelle,

    Nice points, It’s essential to use original content on your webpages and then focus on building quality links from various resources. Don’t try to buy paid links and don’t consider link exchange as these are spammy ways for link building and Google knows it quite better.
    Aasma recently posted… MLM Software Development Company in Delhi Noida Pune India | Rancor InfotechMy Profile

    1. Google’s very smart and does pick up on that stuff.

      Best approach for building links? Link to things that have value for your readers. :) And if it happens that you’re a great fit to exchange links with another site, that’s cool. But don’t swap just to get one more link.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Don’t Make it Pretty, Make it WorkMy Profile

  13. Michelle is absolutely correct – and your greatest danger is Google! They are intentionally taking traffic away from small businesses, ecommerce sites and bloggers and handing it to their Big Brand buddies. Do NOT focus on the huge percentage of traffic they can send you – KNOW that what Google giveth Google taketh away on a whim.

    Focus on EVERYTHING ELSE – and especially on growing collaborations with bloggers in your niches and locations. Consider working together to make ever more powerful group blogs with multiple authors and promoters – and make them specific to a large metro area so that you can benefit small businesses. When you can deliver a local audience it makes sense for businesses to hire you.

    1. Gail, I hate to admit it but I see that trend, too, and it’s likely to continue since those are the guys spending the big $$ on advertising.

      I love that though — “focus on EVERYTHING ELSE” — great way to sum it up. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Are You Ready? The Blog Challenge is BACK!My Profile

  14. Great topic Michelle. I agree with @grownmap: Google giveth Google taketh away on a whim.

    What have been helping me lately on the internet are my mantras and beliefs that have helped me offline: raising my four children to be good citizens of the world, being an entrepreneur and life in general. My daughter reminded me the other day that just because it’s the internet doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be guided by the same beliefs: my source will always be my source and everyone is an instrument of the source, including Google.

    Offline businesses have made it in-spite of challenges; you can do the same online. Even though Google is powerful, we should focus on the opportunities instead of problems. Problems will always be there in one form or another, they are part of the landscape of life.
    Adalia John recently posted… Enchantment: Use it to Get What You WantMy Profile

    1. Yep. Focus on what we can do and the actions we can take to make things happen! :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… A Visual Pinterest Tutorial #infographicsMy Profile

  15. The only reason I worry about the updates is because sometimes Google does things and it can be hard to figure out exactly why.
    Julie recently posted… Make Money Online by selling on ZazzleMy Profile

    1. For following SEO I’ve chosen only 2 or 3 people/resources that I listen to. Any more than that and I find it all just muddies the waters and gets confusing.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Are You Ready? The Blog Challenge is BACK!My Profile

  16. Here are some tips on how to recover from google panda:
    a. Article Interlinking
    b. Writing on topics instead of keyword – tageting keywords is now dead
    c. Quality content
    d. Improve user experience – meaning improved your contents/pages quality, improve your
    website loading speed, and menu navigation

    1. Jenli, thanks for sharing those tips. It’s a good example of why I didn’t have to worry about it — by already caring what the user’s experience was and not focusing narrowly on keywords for SEO, these things were already happening naturally. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Are You Ready? The Blog Challenge is BACK!My Profile

  17. This post is beneficial for all SEOs. It is good to focus on to create quality links. Create quality content is much more important. I agree with you that do not rely on one traffic source and also avoid black hat SEO. You do not have to worry about Google update, if the content is good and links are natural, then these updates will not effect your site.
    Sarah recently posted… Gerovital H3 Top Anti Aging Treatment for Flawless YouthMy Profile

    1. That’s the approach I’ve taken, Sarah, and so far it’s working out just fine. Focus on quality content, get out there and promote your blog, and the rest follows.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Are You Ready? The Blog Challenge is BACK!My Profile

  18. Content should always be number one! It’s too frustrating to follow methods that involve Google. Focus on what matters; content and audience, and you’re bound to find success.

    1. It can be frustrating — like trying to hit a moving target — if we follow every little change in the different search engines.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… The Easy Way to Create Your Own InfographicsMy Profile

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