Why I Stop doing SEO and Focus on Greater Things

The hot topic in webmaster world today is Google Panda and Penguin updates. Since Google released a major algorithm update more than a year ago (February 23, 2011) – code-named Panda or Farmer – website owners and SEO specialists are scrambling to comply with the update, for two major reasons…

Reason #1: Their or their clients’ websites were hit by the update and dropped in traffic; Reason #2: They are fixing things up before Google rolls up yet another big update in the future (there are hundreds of algorithm updates annually.)

google panda and penguin updates

Panda updates shake web business world

They who have prepared are right: Google rolls several Panda updates afterward, trying to combat web spams. Big sites are tumbling down, not mentioning the rest of us; many of us don’t have an idea whatsoever why their sites were hit.

And yes, the road to recovery is a long and winding road: Reportedly, only 13 percent of sites hit by Panda update have successfully recovered. However, some success stories indicate that recovery is possible.

…then Penguin came

Not stopping there, Google released yet another big algorithm update (April 24, 2012,) code-named Penguin. This update fights “over-optimized” sites a.k.a. sites that are receiving too much SEO in getting them rank higher on search engine result pages.

As the dusts are yet to settle, Google indicates that you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Panic on the web

With the Panda and Penguin updates, the webmaster world is shaken. Web businesses tumbling upside down and SEO companies are panicking, trying to figure everything out for their clients.

Some businesses are drowning, losing revenue – some were going out of business; thousands of people are losing their job.

Some who try to survive are working hard in getting their websites to go back on track, with only less than 15% chance of success. That success rate can be very low – especially after I have an interesting conversation with an SEO specialist. More on this later on – read on…

The trends today

I’ve just posted on our Facebook page, sharing what I think about the most recent phenomenon in SEO and link building. You see, I run several blogs and I accept quality blog posts to be published in them. I’ve done this for years and things just work just like it was a couple of years ago – until Google Panda updates kicked in.

You see, guest posts involve links in them, and some of the links are self-serving: They are referring to the writers’ or the writers’ clients’ websites. Now, after the updates, I’ve received numerous requests for link removals and/or text link updates. The reason is simple: They try to work things out, especially in response to Penguin updates.

However, to tell you the truth, this is crazy: Noobpreneur.com is one of the better sites in its niche; it has some good reputation, too… but why would he want to remove links from Noobpreneur.com? We all involved in website ownership know that links pointing to your website’s URL carries value that will directly impact your site’s ranking in search engines; removing low quality links are recommended, but removing good quality links? That’s illogical, in every sense.

As I mentioned above, I have had a conversation with a SEO specialist who asked me to remove a link in a blog post I have published on Noobpreneur.com last year. In good faith, I remove the link for him. As he mentioned that the link removal is for his client in an effort to recover the search engine ranking and traffic from Google Penguin update.

I told him that Noobpreneur.com has also been hit by both Panda and Penguin updates – he responded that my story is a typical story of his and his clients So, I’m not all alone, I think… but here’s what bothering me…

He offered me some practical tips that can help Noobpreneur.com to get out of the Panda/Penguin hits. They are great tips and I think I can implement one or two tips easily. However, what shocked me is this:

He told me that his site has successfully recovered from Panda some time ago after putting in some hard work; but as Google made yet another Panda update, his site was hit again. Then he rinsed-and-repeated the process – added new “ingredients” to it – in an effort to get back on track. The same thing goes with his clients’ websites.

google updates craze
Image by AleksaMX

The above facts – as told by the site owner himself – bug me. Is recovering from Google Panda and Penguin updates a lifelong effort? If the answer is yes, then I think what other experts said sounds logical: Forget the websites hit by the updates and focus on creating a new one instead. Of course, I can’t do that with Noobpreneur.com!

What’s more, although Google says that the algorithm updates are considered as a success, not many website owners think so. Search results are still filled with questionable sites; the updates even give birth to a new way to link: SEO experts suggest that now links must be diverse; you should get links with your brand name, site URL and/or natural-looking anchor texts.

For example, if your website is ABC.com, then it’s save for you to get links from other sites that read “ABC” or “ABC.com”. It’s also suggested for you to get links with anchor texts like “Click here”, “Learn more about ABC’s service”, and such.

In my opinion, the above will only give you another problem: Fake or generic “click here” link. Yes – today, even the “click here to find out more” link doesn’t look natural anymore.

Is this what Google really want? Is this what Google deemed as successful updates?

Is the whole thing entirely Google’s fault?

The answer is: No. It’s Google’s search engine and it has every right to do whatever it takes to improve the quality of the search.

In fact, if I were the owner of Google, I would also do the same thing. You see, it’s darn difficult to make a “bot” to do the right thing 100%. That’s why Google does hundreds of algorithm updates to make things better. Some unfairness might happen, but – again – it’s Google’s search engine.

What to do?

As I mentioned above, you might want to try fixing things out – contacting webmasters to remove their links or change the anchor texts for you; you might want to fix everything on your site – rewrite the content, remove filler or low quality content, and so on. Read these tips for recovering from Panda/Penguin updates and this one for Panda updates.

You see, you have 2 choices: Follow Google’s rule or just forget about Google. It’s a “take it or leave it” situation.

If you asked me, as recovery only a reality of 1 out of 7 sites, I will just implement the 80/20 rule. Instead of spending time and money on something that “might just” work, I will exploring on other proven traffic options while working on the obvious: Offering value to our readers. That’s all.

I think it is time for me to forget SEO. Thinking that what I am doing right now might harm us in the future when Google makes yet another major algorithm update, it’s probably the time to stop focusing on SEO – keywords in title, keyword density, etc. – and start focusing on creating content that readers want to read, as well as getting traffic from non-Google sources.

Traffic wise, I am exploring several options, including traffic from videos (via YouTube and other video sites) and the social media (via Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon and so on.) I will keep you posted when I discover interesting things…

So, as final words: Be patient, and focus on your readers and/or visitors. Things happen and life goes on – if you want to work on ways to recover, you should do it properly. If you want to focus on quality and other source of traffic, you should also do them properly. Trying too many things and giving up before you start seeing results are probably the least thing you want to do.

Good luck in your life after Google Panda/Penguin updates!

Ivan Widjaya
Forget SEO, focus on your readers