Last week, a small business owner talked to me about his new marketing plan. It went something like this: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, MySpace, blog, blog outreach, YouTube videos, forum posting, SEO articles written and posted to Squidoo, every other article site then promoted on StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit and every other appropriate sharing site.
He figured someone could do this in ten hours a week. I told him he was in over his head. I told him he needed to focus on a few keys areas to start — Facebook and Pinterest since he was selling a very visual and colorful product. I also told him to forget article marketing, it not only wouldn’t help his business but it might actually hurt. I don’t think he liked my advice.
Now, let’s all open our Wall Street Journal to the Small Business section: “As Google Tweaks Searches, Some Get Lost in the Web.”
The story focuses on two small online business who have suffered devastating losses since the latest Google search update known as Penguin. The owner of Oh My Dog Supplies says his sales went from $68,000 in March (pre-Penguin) to $25,000 this month (expected based on current sales). He blames the loss in traffic on Google search and thinks it’s the result of two actions. He once paid for a large number of inbound links and he posts marketing articles to EzineArticles and Squidoo.
Under the new Penguin reign, these kinds of marketing ploys are considered spam. Google sees them as ways of artificially inflating the relevance of a website. As such, they are not helpful to searchers and so Google penalizes the sites for being deceptive.
The author of the article admits that some companies have gained from the Penguin update but those that took a hit are suffering, to the point of possibly losing their business.
The people the Wall Street Journal profiled in the article are all legitimate, small business owners who were only doing what they thought was best. They followed advice (Did they know that buying links has always been a questionable tactic? Not likely.) and did all the things some marketers say you should do to get noticed. Marketing, however, is not their field. They’re people who simply wanted to share their passion for pets and sports and art and found they could turn that passion into profit. Now, though, you can bet that passion is waning as they scramble to regain what they lost through no fault of their own.
I’m not saying Google is wrong. They’re right to want to clean out the spammers and the snake oil salesmen. I’m saying that it’s time to stop marketing based on the way it’s always been. The rules have changed and they’re going to keep changing. What business owners have to do is follow the path that makes the most sense for their company and forget the rest.
You know what Google likes? Relevant, accurate, informative content that is better than what the competitor has to offer. That’s how you rise in the rankings and that’s how you stay on top the next time Google makes another update.
What are your thoughts on Google’s Penguin update? Good news, bad news, or just another twist in the path?