Right after the Penguin update, I sent the following email to people who downloaded a <a href=”http://book.seoroi.com”>free chapter</a> from my book.
It shares 9 concrete tactics to protect your business and grow beyond Google so that a Google ban would be the loss of A marketing channel, not the marketing channel.
There are tactics for e-commerce, ad publishers (CPM, CPC, CPA), lead generators and non-profits who want to fire-proof themselves like the mythical phoenix.
“It’s spring and Google’s whacked another group of link buyers, and we in the SEO world again buzz about the winners, losers and what to do next.
But even whitehats who don’t buy their links MUST ask how to protect themselves from Google’s whims, as must every open-eyed SEO.
Q: Why worry if you’re whitehat?
A: Google is cutting the ROI on SEO and has been for 8+ years…
1. In 2002, Google introduced product search, competing with price comparison sites.
2. From 2003-2006, Google added “Quick Answers” results. Stock quotes, weather, sports scores, movie times and flight information were directly published in SERPs.
3. In 2007 “Universal Search” pushed everything else down to make room for maps, video, blogs, news, images etc. The biggest winners? Youtube and Google Maps.
4. In 2011, Google hid 15-25% of SEO-traffic referring keywords from SEOs.
5. Don’t take my word for it, see this infographic by Google.
And this doesn’t even cover evolutions like Google financial lead-gen ads, cutting out affiliates, nor how Google ads take up an ever-increasing share of search results ..
The core problem: Google monetizes search traffic. SEOs monetize search traffic. Google competes with SEOs.
If you don’t evolve to generate your own traffic by email, direct traffic and referral traffic (aka PR, guest blogging, social and ads), your business will shrink or flatline.
Here are 9 tactics you can use to protect your business’s future.
A. Ecommerce sites
#1. Maximize conversion rates on SEO traffic, even at the cost of 0% margins. SEO should be an acquisition channel running at breakeven, profit to come via followup email and other marketing.
#2. A compromise solution for the impatient is to minimize the price on the searched-for-product (to increase conversion rates) and upsell/cross-sell and/or bundle non-searched for products.
Ex.: Travel sites got the message years ago and that’s why they bundle flights, hotels, car rentals, travel insurance, tour packages, etc.
B. Publishers selling ads (affiliates, Adsense, CPM, etc.)
#3. Niche yourself – this is extremely important. Sure your generic site can rank for “how to get a prom date” and “executive flight charters,” but you can’t offer a common newsletter for both visitors. The magazine industry knows the value of targeted traffic and that’s why ads in Time magazine are multiple times cheaper on a per-subscriber basis than ads in Car & Driver.
When the algo turned against content farms, their value shrunk overnight. Why? It shrunk because they had no self-generated traffic from email newsletters or people returning for regularly published content (e.g. blogs).
#4. When someone clicks a link out or an ad, trigger an intermediate-step splash page (i.e. “Your requested page is loading” page) that invites people to join your newsletter. Or frame the page they clicked out to with a newsletter offer form.
C. Lead generation sites
#4. Test using a checkbox at the end of the form to invite people to get your relevant newsletter
#6. Use the thank you page to generate an email subscription. For example, insurance comparison sites can offer newsletters on saving money in general, including the free report, “5 Secret Savings At The Supermarket.”
You obviously can’t keep generating insurance leads from these same people, but if you build a relationship via email, you can offer affiliate coupons and have subscribers generate social traffic for your main lead-gen activity.
#7. Reach your target donors via educational content in SEO and networking (or PPC) in social, then use free reports to build an email list. Your challenge is largely that people aren’t searching for you anyways, hence the importance of building an email list.
Ex.: You’re a charity for hungry people in Ecuador. Write about the socio-economic situation there and cover the news, to generate search traffic. Once people have arrived, invite them to get more information in your “Plain-Language Primer On Ecuadorian Hunger” report.
#8. Get sponsors to donate prizes and run sweepstake contests that are exclusive to your subscribers.
Finally, I want to say that I didn’t take an hour out of my day to write this just for the heck of it. I wrote this email to show I’m grateful for your attention.
Thanks again for getting a free chapter from my book! I like you :).
Get your copy of The Advanced SEO Book
P.s. Bonus tactics
#9. Use email retargeting for cheaper and higher converting results than display ad retargeting.
#10. Email your list and ask newsletter subscribers to refer their friends. I’ve done this and it works.
P.P.S. In case you missed it above: Ecommerce SEO is a not for profit activity aka it’s for acquisition, only.