Any update to the algorithms of search engines, for instance the famous Panda update, is a major source of stress for any Web master because often these updates are like earthquakes ‐ they shake your rankings upside down and all your efforts to pump up your site’s rankings go down the drain. While these changes are inevitable and there is nothing you can do to prevent them, there are some measures you can take in order to soften the blow. Basically, it’s believed that if you follow white hat best practices, you are safe from updates but in reality this isn’t so.
Here are some suggestions (in addition to the general white hat best practices) how to make your site less vulnerable to search engine algorithm changes.
However, before we continue with the steps themselves, let’s clarify that not all traffic fluctuations are the result of a search engine algorithms update. Very often fluctuations are normal ‐ for instance, seasonal fluctuations are not caused by an algorithm change but rather by the time of the year factor. Such changes are harder to control because similarly to search engines algorithms they are also outside your reach and this is why we are not discussing these here.
1 Stay Focused on Your Target Keywords
When you want to increase the traffic from search engines, your first idea might be that if you manage to rank for more keywords, you will get more traffic. Could be (especially if the keywords are not closely related) but basically this isn’t necessarily so.
You might think that when you expand into new keywords, this will increase traffic but actually it’s just the opposite ‐ these new keywords will dilute the relevancy of your present keywords and as a result you might lose some of the traffic you already have. So, before you target some new keywords, always be ready to back off, if results turn out to be worse than expected.
2 Optimize for Long Tail Keywords
Long tail keywords are frequently neglected because they don’t bring as much traffic as their more lucrative counterparts. However, long tail keywords are more proof against changes in algorithms. The traffic of long tail keywords tends to fluctuate less because there is less competition. If you have been skipping long tail keywords up to now, start optimizing for them asap.
3 Optimize for Less Competitive Keywords
Less competitive keywords might be not long tail but they also tend to suffer less from search engine updates. The explanation is easy ‐ for example, if there are 10 sites that compete for a keyword, even if Google updates their algorithm and shuffles results, the worst that can happen to you is to rank 10th, which is much better than to rank in the second hundred, as is quite possible with keywords that have hundreds of sites competing for them.
4 Post New Content Regularly
All equal, huge intervals between new posts can literally bury your site even for keywords you always used to rank well for and even if there are no search engine algorithm changes. While you can’t beat these changes solely by posting new content all the time simply because it takes time for new posts to rank well, new content is fresh blood and it does bring traffic. As we’ve mentioned multiple times, it’s better to post one new content piece a week or even a month than to post no content for months and then pour 20 new content pieces at once.
5 Get Backlinks from Superb Sites Only
The days when any backlink was good are history. Now links from bad or simply irrelevant sites can hurt you badly. This is why, you need to get backlinks from high ranking, relevant sites only. In addition to the juice they pass, these sites tend not to lose their own rankings that frequently and as a result your own rankings will fluctuate less. Also, once an A List site puts a link, they will hardly remove it just to protect their own rankings, as some of the other sites will do.
In order to avoid links from bad sites, you can use various tools to discover who is linking to you. When you encounter a link you don’t want, contact the web master of the site and ask him or her to have it removed.
6 Use PPC
If you haven’t figured this out so far, let’s tell it directly – free search engine traffic is great but it’s unreliable. No matter how great your site is and how masterfully you are trying to protect yourself against search engine algorithm changes, you are never immune. If you want constant traffic to your site, start using PPC. We’ve put a detailed tutorial on Google AdWords. If you are not familiar with PPC at all, you can start with this tutorial.
7 Promote on Social Media
It’s the same here ‐ don’t put all your eggs in one basket, i.e. don’t get all your traffic from search engines. When you start diversifying your traffic sources, the first option is PPC (which costs money but generally it brings targeted traffic) and the second option is social media. Sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. are free to use and they can bring you lots of traffic, if your posts become popular. However, usually the traffic from social sites isn’t targeted and conversions might be low but still these sites are a viable alternative.
While you sometimes can benefit from search engine algorithm changes because these changes bury your competitors and take you up in search results without any effort on your part, this is pure luck and you can’t rely on it. If you don’t want to experience the negative effects of algorithm changes to the max, you need to be proactive and take the steps listed in this article. Unfortunately, even if you do, you still can’t say you are fully covered but at least you will have the consolation that you did what could be done.