Google announced their latest algorithm update, Penguin, on their blog on April 24, 2012, citing the reasons for the update as their effort to take an an aggressive stance on eliminating webspam, and promoting high quality content.
Googles’ new Internet marketing strategies affect about 3.1% of queries in English.
3.1% is nothing right? Wrong. In fact, with a staggering 91 million search queries per day, this amounts to about 2,821,000 queries that are affected by the new Internet strategies daily. As a web marketing professional, chances are you have seen changes in more than just your rankings, perhaps most noticeably, the amount of accessible data provided to you by Google.
If you are an SEO using Google Tools to measure your metrics, you may have noticed an increase in data that is no longer accessible after the recent Penguin update. Whether it be that “not provided” keyword section of your Adwords, or discrepancies in conversion information, Googles’ new internet marketing strategies have not gone without complaints from SEO professionals. Many even cite a loss in customer retention as a result of these updates and lack of results tracking.
The other side of the story suggests that this “non provided” feature was a privacy precaution implemented by Google after an increase in 3rd party cookie sources using referral data to build profiles for advertising purposes. While Google cites privacy as their motive for these restrictions, it is impossible to predict which purpose is the primary driver.
Chuck Caine, a 30-year marketing veteran and owner of Joint Effort Marketing noted, “Whatever Google’s motives are for the change in data-sharing, it definitely affects the data an SEO specialist or average website operator can use to track progress up the ranking ladders.” Caine says that in the beginning of the rank climb, encouragement consists of movement from position 800 to position 600. “Now you may not know where you are until you about page 10. We will just have to change our metrics” he said.
While these new Internet marketing strategies may be infuriating in your quest for higher rankings, web marketing guru Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz points out that perhaps our priorities are in the wrong place when it comes to our web marketing objectives. While metrics like page rank and number of links have been ingrained in us as what SEO is all about, this is not necessarily the best way to be successful at our jobs.
Fishkin suggests that the best way to really get the job done is to not focus on the metrics so specifically. Instead, to take a holistic and strategic approach to these metrics. For example, ask yourself, ‘What do you want those metrics to accomplish? Why do you want links? Why do you want your rankings higher?’ Often the answer is that you are trying to attract more traffic, convert more leads, and essentially gain customers. Fishkin raises a valid point when suggesting that business KPIs, the things that indicate the performance of the business, are where SEO’s should take their strategic initiatives and strategic leads, for any sort of online marketing effort, whether that’s SEO, whether it’s PPC, or advertising.
Your new Internet marketing strategies should ultimately be focused on your business KPI’s, and then after, you can use metrics like links and rankings as indicators of success. Think about it. If your clients are approaching you with the mentality of just “ I want to rank higher and I want tons of links”, you are more likely to engage in black hat SEO tactics in order to get them the results that they are looking for.
Approaching your new online marketing strategies with a more holistic mind set will not only ensure you keep your head above water with this Penguin update, but also have something to show your clients for your efforts.
While Sometimes it’s hard to move a client away from the idea that SEO is about rankings alone,
being able to measure your KPI’s and compare and then to show your clients what you’re doing and how that stacks up against what the business is trying to accomplish will speak for itself.