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I act on impulse and I go with my instincts – Applying Ramsay logic to SEO

19 March 2013 BY

I like most Mondays after football sat watching Channel 4′s Gordon Ramsays Kitchen Nightmares. For those that don’t watch this – particularly the US version its well worth a watch if not to revel in some US loving for the evening. Its not often I watch these programmes and can relate back to SEO but for some reason last nights episode seem to relate back to SEO – particularly in the light of recent changes to SEO.

What I am referring to is the barrage of Google updates which SEO’s have had to deal with over the course of the last 12 to 24 months. In that time, SEO has changed immeasurably – some would say for the worse, but when one surveys the SEO is approached certainly at an agency level, one can only say these changes have been for the positive. There’s no doubting snake oil still exists – and one would certainly be foolish to think that bad SEO doesn’t exist but in terms of a more mature approach to marketing things are certainly better than they have ever been – If only Google would work out accountability doesn’t just apply to channels which provide Google with revenue.

However I digress. In the afore mentioned episode, we met a couple averse to change. We as SEO’s have had to deal with our fair amount of change in that time – and many SEO’s have seen their fair share of issues during this period.

Don’t bury your head in the sand

For many SEO’s the last couple of years have seen the introduction of a new Google frenemy – the Google Webmaster Tools message. Many SEO’s have been the recipients of these messages, some to advise of mere changes to traffic, or issues with the site. However for many the dreaded receipt of link warnings have become an increasingly dreaded part of the SEO lifestyle.

Such messages are often forewarning. Many of these precede potential Google action – although some of this can be fairly short in terms of potential time lapse. In many cases action will be taken and sites will see rankings fall as a result of devaluations and penalties.

In these cases simply hoping for the best should not be the chosen course of action. Whilst potential remediation in such cases varies from agency to agency and SEO to SEO, there are a number of steps one to undertake

  • Don’t live in denial. Accept you have an issue. If you don’t things aren’t going to get bigger by themselves.
  • Isolate the issues. Simply assuming that any fall in rankings or traffic is down to a penalty is an easy assumption to make – and in many cases the correct one. However often this may not be the only reason for the drop. Site migrations, changes in site content or other more obvious issues can often be overlooked. It is also fair to say that in many cases, the issues are often not just down to one single issue – and isolating these will provide a clear framework to start fixing the potential issue
  • Do your homework. Working your way back out from these Google issues is not an easy process. I have often compared Google to a spoilt child – not just for these cases (for many others as well – but that’s a different post) – however if one goes down that analogy here one won’t go far wrong. Getting back in Google’s good books once you have overstepped the mark is not a quick process, nor is it an easy one – and thinking it is going to be one could be a fatal mistake.

Don’t take the easy way out

guinness-beer-ads-three-glasses-good-things-come-to-those-who-wait

I have seen many an SEO both experienced and inexperienced look for the quick fix. Particularly when other stakeholders are involved, it can be very easy to look for the easy option, something to band aid over the wound and fix the problem – even if its to the long term detriment of the site or brand itself.

I have heard a number of SEO’s suggesting migrating domains as the first solution to these issues, something that always amazes me. For a small company this may not be such a big issue particularly if the organisation happens to be bricks and mortar company with little or no online reliance.

However consider confused.com without the .com – or webuyanycar.com. These sites brands are the websites (I should add at this point these sites have not been penalised as far as I know). Simply migrating domains is not an issue with a site such as these – and therefore one might suggest these sites would have to take an even more conservative approach with regards to SEO given their reliance on brand. Further more any potential remediation is likely to be long and painful in order to ensure such an site would get out of any issues and sustain that.

If you do happen to be penalised by Google accept the fact its likely to be a hard route back to the top. With Google increasingly going after link sellers – that penalty may not even impact you directly but with publishers increasingly reacting to tactical Google penalisations theres no doubting there is a new found sense of caution with regards to SEO content. Further more with Matt Cutts recently suggesting some rocky times may lie ahead for some SEO’s one may be forgiven to consider perhaps sitting the next couple of months out. Depending on how you have approached link building that may not be a bad thing to do (perhaps in line with a period of reflection and careful link analysis) however potentially tweaking what your doing may be a more suitable use of time.

Be in control of your destiny

No SEO should ever leave things to chance, it has a habit of coming back to bit you in the arse.

Even if you haven’t been hit by the direct impact of many of these updates, it makes sense to make sure you are in complete control of every aspect of your SEO. Close attention to Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics (or your preferred Analytics package) – and whatever your ranking software may be should all be part of a daily or at least weekly analysis framework. That way, potential issues can be handled swiftly and effectively – before it becomes an issue.

It seems only apt at this point to finish with a Gordon Ramsay quote to summarise (to be honest I could have changed a number of his many quotes to suit but this seemed to fit perfectly)

I don’t like looking back. I’m always constantly looking forward. I’m not the one to sort of sit and cry over spilt milk. I’m too busy looking for the next cow.

AUTHORED BY:
h

Peter has been around the industry for a while now, having previously headed up both search and SEO operations at Connectpoint (now Amaze), Mediavest, Brilliant Media and now Search & Social Director for Mediacom.
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