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We all hate being told that our efforts to complete a task aren’t good enough.
It’s simple enough to say I’ll learn from a mistake, but in the moment of receiving the feedback, it’s easy to feel anything from a little put-out to down-right broken hearted.
In the world of digital marketing and SEO, success is very much driven by the numbers, with a wide range of external factors influencing my hard work.
Whether the focus is on the agency or in-house side, there are similar pressures from budgets, demands of multiple departments, and the constant evolution of marketing ‘best-practice’.
So when the moment of negativity hits, it can be hard to handle everything at once.
Here’s the crunch point I often find myself staring at:
Do I over-reach to remedy the fault?
Do I let it go and learn from it?
Do I try for something in between?
When working with passionate, target-driven marketing managers or business owners, there is no simple answer.
But what is common is that negative feedback shouldn’t haunt you, nor should it impact how you see yourself as a digital professional.
Ultimately, mistakes are made, even by the best and today’s Friday Focus is my walkthrough of how I tackle and deal with negative feedback.1. Break Down the Error or Issue and Consider the Wider Context
One step I always consider, is to look at the potential consequences of the issue. If they are already known, I tend to use these to balance out the negativity of the feedback.
We can’t reverse whatever caused the negativity, but I usually consider what led to the frustration and all of the related parts.
As expected, I received a negative phone call, asking for justification and a solution.
I was quickly looking to provide a solution that, in the short term, wasn’t possible. So instead of promising that, I had to consider what led to the shortfall and how further work, would achieve the full potential of the organic sales.
Within this solution, context was crucial and allowed the negative to be viewed in a balanced way.
If the wider context doesn’t help, take steps to break down the issue into smaller parts, covering what lead to it and the exact impact. This allows for a better understanding of how a resolution can be achieved.2. Judge the Situation Before Responding
Depending on the situation, I aim to take time to judge the context of the message and again, how the solution can be approached.
With real-time communication, it’s unlikely a solution can be brought to the surface immediately.
There’s no exact science here, but a simple way that helps me is to stick to the facts I know.
Whether that is justification for a delay, overspend or something else, it might be only partially addressing the point, but it helps balance the situation.3. Own the Feedback
Whatever way I receive the feedback, I stop and try not to panic and remember it’s my situation to control.
Time is, within reason, on my side and this can be used to craft a solution that I am comfortable with.4. Remember, the Feedback Isn’t Against You as a Person
Digital marketing, especially search, has success driven by numbers with a threat of intense competition.
Should the worst happen and I lose a client over the issue, I remember one thing, I’m no worse a marketer or a person because of this and, if anything I can learn and improve!5. Don’t Respond With Anger
It’s really easy to feel judged in this situation, but hard to overcome that feeling.
I totally understand that, business owners and marketing managers, are passionate about their business and their targets.
If my agency missed a client target or didn’t deliver on time, an angry response towards the negative feedback will only make things worse.
The situation isn’t about being the better person. It’s more of an opportunity to start a conversation rather than a one-way rant. Ultimately, anger just makes the person on the other side, even more negative!6. Don’t Take It Home
If I’ve dealt with the issue and the feedback as much as I can, then I take steps not to stew or over analyze.
Negative words can sit and really impact my mental state if left they are given more time than necessary.
It can be easier said than done to offload, but take some time to concentrate on another task or run through the situation with a colleague who isn’t involved.
This isn’t something I do to shrug off the burden, but more of an opportunity to discuss at my pace (while making the feedback my own).
I’ve lost count of the times the views of someone else have helped me untangle a tricky situation.7. Tell Your Side of the Story (When Appropriate)
I take this step as appropriate, depending on the tone of the feedback and the relationship. If I am prepared to, take some time in the conversation to defend or justify whatever has prompted the negative feedback.
Another example comes to mind for me here.
An old web design project was running on time from my team’s perspective, but wildly late from the client’s perspective.
My side of the story was that their previous designers had used a simple template approach, whereas we took a far more detailed approach that didn’t rely on pre-built components.
Therefore, the two timelines, couldn’t be compared. The simple input of my side of the story radically changed the tone of the conversation.8. Leave the Discussion With a Next Step
Dealing with negative feedback is all about making a tough situation easier for me, while ideally solving a problem.
When it comes to any kind of business, let alone SEO, I find leaving things without a clear next step is a bad move. It doesn’t make things easy and ultimately, there is no direction for anyone.
Even if I just outline a period of time to go away and gather some data, it’s better to do that, than leave on ambiguity.
I find setting a timeline or a deliverable that indicates progress towards a solution, a dependable step towards a calmer discussion.
That means I have a concept of how urgent this is and the other person knows they feature on my to-do list.
Ultimately, negative feedback is something all of us as search marketers are likely to come across. Some receive it more than others and it can vary on a sliding scale of severity.
I would use these tips to contribute to what works for you, rather than a replacement.
Featured Image: Paulo Bobita
You're reading Tactics For Tackling Negative Feedback (& How To Not Take It Personally)
One area I have seen a lot of success with lately is remarketing. Google has improved their remarketing features tremendously over the last year. Today, I will share the most successful remarketing tactics I’ve found in various AdWords accounts throughout the years.
Remarketing is not as simple as starting regular AdWords Search or Display campaigns. The success of your remarketing campaigns eventually depends on how well you’ve set up your remarketing lists and how you’ve tagged your website.
I won’t go too much into detail with tagging your website, but if you don’t have your tag installed yet, I recommend reading the basics first.
This doesn’t mean if you receive few visitors (less than 10,000 per month), you shouldn’t do remarketing. However, with few visitors your success criteria shouldn’t be direct response, but instead be focused on touching prospects again and again with your ad message. With fewer visitors, your costs from your remarketing campaigns will be limited. Therefore, running your campaigns with no conversions shouldn’t pose a challenge.
Currently, Google offers 3 ways to do remarketing:
Remarketing Lists for Search (RLSA)
Dynamic Display Remarketing
Display RemarketingRemarketing Lists for Search
Remarketing Lists for Search (RLSA) is Google’s remarketing tool. It allows you to target people who have previously been on your site directly in their search results.
One of the easiest ways to get started with RLSA campaigns is to take your 10-20 highest performing ad groups and copy them into a new campaign. In your new campaign, you set up your remarketing audience as needed and set the same audience as negative in your existing campaigns.
That’s essentially all it takes to get started with RLSA campaigns. For more details I recommend reading my fellow SEJ contributor Tyler Jordan’s post on RLSA campaigns.
What are the benefits of remarketing?
Target more generic keywords
Bid higher than in your regular campaigns
Offer special incentives for repeat purchasersTarget Generic Keywords
With normal search campaigns, you only have the ability to decipher the intent behind a search by looking at the keywords used. You therefore need to use highly specific keywords to assure that you achieve a profitable ROI instead of just pouring money down a black hole.
With RLSA campaigns, you get a second parameter to use – The fact that customers have been on your website before and therefore are more likely to make a purchase. Where you previously would have only targeted keywords like ‘large cotton bath towels’ because your store specializes in these towels, you can now try out generic search terms like:
Seeing that the person searching for these phrases has already been to your site and shown interest in your products, these keywords all of a sudden become relevant. It is important to know is that customers don’t always follow a linear search pattern.
Customers will sometimes start off with a broad search, then a specific search and later try a broad search again. Let me provide you with an example of a search pattern:
Best bath towels for kids
Bath towels with hoods
Cotton bath towels with hoods
Disney hooded bath towel = Conversion!
However, with the intent behind the search now clear, you are able to open the gates to this keyword and others keywords you previously turned down.Bid Higher Than In Your Regular Campaigns
Knowing a customer has been to your site before and chose to search further for one of your products is a big sign that they are continuously interested in the product line that you are offering. However, even though customers visit and navigate, it does not guarantee they will make a purchase. There can be several reasons why a searcher chooses not purchase from you right away.
A common scenario is that a searcher just wants to see what else is out there. If they see your ad on top during their follow-up searches, the likelihood of them eventually choosing you is higher.
Another scenario is that the searcher might have not find exactly what he was looking for on your site due to infrastructure problems. Web users have low attention spans, so if someone didn’t find what they was looking for quickly, he might just try to search on Google instead. By targeting all your products with RLSA campaigns in the top two position, you will be able to redirect that person back to your site.
Therefore, in many cases, you are able to bid significantly higher in your RLSA campaigns than your traditional search campaigns.Offer Special Incentives For Repeat Purchasers
I recommend that you do the same with RLSA campaigns. Don’t just assume that your current ad message is the best, but instead focus on evolving your ad message and allow repeat users to see the entire spectrum of benefits.Dynamic Remarketing Using Product Listing Ads
Dynamic Remarketing is the latest feature from Google in the world of remarketing. Dynamic Remarketing uses your Google Shopping feed to show specific products to users who have previously visited those products on your website.
The best practices for Dynamic Remarketing is the same as regular remarketing:
Bid higher the further down the funnel a user is
Remember frequency capping
Start with broader segments, but remember to segment
Dynamic Remarketing is definitely one of the most promising features I’ve seen from Google lately, and I’ve seen surprisingly good results from running the campaigns in several industries.Advanced Strategies for Display Remarketing Success
You might think that regular display remarketing has become obsolete with the addition of Dynamic Remarketing, but traditional remarketing still lives strong. Remarketing is an exceptional way to extend your reach to motivated users who have already shown interest in you.Split Up Your Remarketing for Different Groups
Segmenting your remarketing targeting in different groups is one of the most best way to improve your performance. Don’t treat all customers the same. You can set clear layers of commitment to determine how aggressive you should remarket to each segment.
All Visits (Excluding the rest of the segments)
Abandoned Shopping Carts
With these 5 segments, you will be able to see a clear difference in CTR and conversion rates starting with high conversion rates for ‘Abandoned Shopping Carts’ to low conversion rates for ‘All Visits’.Match Your Cookie Time To Your Specific Customer Behavior
If you sell a small gadget that customers decide whether to purchase or not within a day, don’t set a 365-day membership duration for your remarketing lists.
Make sure that your membership duration matches your common buying funnel.Don’t Forget Frequency Capping
Have you ever been followed by the same ad from the same company all day, every day? I have. A lot. You know what? It doesn’t work. Yelling at me more doesn’t make me like you better.Change Ad Message For Non-Converting Users After Time
If your Free Shipping benefit hasn’t convinced your customer by day 10, it probably won’t convince them on day 20. Consider changing your benefit or include a specific offer and you will possibly experience greater results.Remarket To Your Converted Customers
If you sell a product like fashion or other products that can be sold year round, it’s tough to decide exactly when you need to start retargeting to existing customers. If you have a clear season or if your products have an expiration date, you will be able to retarget very efficiently.
Are you planning an upgrade to a certain item in 6 months? Retarget.
Do your wallets tend to get worn out after 12 months? Retarget 50% off for repeat customers after 12 months.
Do you sell swimwear? Increase your membership duration so it covers until the next season and bid aggressively.Focus On Other Conversions Than Direct Response
However, what if you could convert 10 or 20% into your email nurturing process or sell a product with lower value to get the customers email?
Consider other options when doing remarketing and you will see your opportunities open significantly.Consider Including Calls As Part of Your Remarketing KPIs
A technique I tested throughout the last part of 2013 was to focus on calls as part of my KPIs for lead generation remarketing campaigns. I saw a lot of the people who didn’t convert on a traditional lead capture form saw amazing conversion rates once I changed the landing page to one focusing on generating calls instead.
We also split-tested the original landing page to see if the performance increase was simply due to our prospects wanting to have a number to call, but the conversions stayed the same.
With a remarketing campaign following up with an ad message like ‘Get A Rep On The Phone Within Two Minutes – Call Now’, I have been able to increase the overall lead generation from AdWords by a healthy amount in several accounts.Should I Count View-Through Conversions?
I don’t use them.Know that Your Regular Search/Display Campaigns Are Also Remarketing Efforts
With Remarketing for Search, Dynamic Remarketing, and Regular Remarketing you will tend to see lower CPAs than you see with your regular Search and Display campaigns.
As you start RLSA campaigns, you might even see an increase in your cost per conversion for your regular search campaigns. I’ve seen time and time again that clients either want to or choose to allocate more budget towards remarketing with little knowledge of the eco-system.
Align your expectations across the board and know that if your overall campaigns are performing well for you, then there is no reason why you should lower your traditional search budget.
“Ghost Recon: Wildlands takes place in the expansive, gritty and vibrant backdrop of Bolivia, South America. You are sent behind the enemy lines as a member of The Ghosts, a legendary US Elite Special Operations team, to create chaos that will destabilize and eventually break the alliance between the Santa Blanca cartel and the corrupted government.”
Pretty standard Tom Clancy fare. 2012’s Future Soldier had you invading Nicaragua. 2006’s Advanced Warfighter had you infiltrating Mexico during a coup. The usual.
But I don’t remember taking down an enemy helicopter by landing my helicopter on top of it in any of the earlier Ghost Recon games. Yeah, that’s a new one.Just (be)Cause
Remember when people saw Rainbow Six Siege and complained it didn’t look like traditional Rainbow Six? Okay, take that and multiply it by ten and you’ve got Ghost Recon: Wildlands.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands
Wildlands isn’t a bad game, per se. I just can’t imagine the old fans are going to be happy. Myself, I have fond memories of playing the older Ghost Recon games, which presented an interesting and semi-grounded look at war in the 21st century long before Call of Duty went Modern Warfare.
Now? Well, someone spilled a bit of Just Cause into what used to be a very serious military sim.
Just a little. Wildlands pays lip service to its tactical roots by, for example, having a continuous day/night cycle so you can rush in during the day or attempt a mission at night when the guard presence may be lower. It’s a bit more self-serious than the over-the-top power fantasy presented by Just Cause nowadays.
But in its move to an “open-world, do anything, hijack anything, kill anything” approach the Ghost Recon series has sort of lost the Tom Clancy vibe it had before. The result is something else entirely. Again, not necessarily a bad game, but certainly different than I expected.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands
For instance, an early mission requires you to infiltrate an enemy base, break into a cell, and rescue one of the rebel leaders. You can accomplish this in the standard Ghost Recon way—slow and stealthy, silencers equipped, checking your corners, strategically taking out enemies, watching for snipers.
Or you can do what I did: Hop into a tractor (yes, the farm variety), drive it straight into the middle of the compound, kick a guard in his sensitive bits for a “stealth kill,” rescue the rebel, put him on the back of the tractor, and hightail it out of there at a zippy ten miles per hour.
It’s the sort of silly stunt I’d expect to pull for laughs in Just Cause, but not so much in Ghost Recon. And the problem is that once “Rescuing a rebel with a single tractor” is a possible solution, it’s hard to ever return to the slow-and-stealthy formula. Ghost Recon: Wildlands
I was playing on Normal difficulty, and only in the earlier (presumably easier) zones, so maybe on harder difficulties and harder missions there’s more need for tactical planning. But for my demo, it was way more common to see four of us parachute out of a helicopter and straight into an enemy base than see us Seal Team Six our way through. Judging by the whooping screams and laughter in the demo room, I think it’s safe to say other groups felt the same.
The problem as I see it is Ghost Recon isn’t really a Just Cause game, or at least not a modern-era one. In fact, it plays like the original Just Cause, saddled with a token sense of “realism” and a self-serious story that’s completely at odds with the non-stop action you’re engaged in. It’s in a weird middle ground, afraid to shirk the baggage of its milsim origins and full-on embrace absurdity, but also too flippant to appease longtime fans.
Rainbow Six Siege may not look much like a traditional Rainbow Six Siege game, but it at least shared core tenets—move slow, watch your corners, death comes quickly and without forgiveness. The portion of Ghost Recon: Wildlands I played feels like a series of Far Cry or Just Cause outposts with the Ghost Recon lore slapped on.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands
It’s a lot of fun, at least for a little while, but might’ve been better off without the Ghost Recon name involved. Or at least with a story that’s not torn-from-the-headlines sadism about cartels and corrupt police torturing citizens while you try to ramp a dirt bike over your friend’s helicopter.
And I’m somewhat worried about the game’s longevity. In contrast to Watch Dogs 2’s surprisingly restrained, stripped down mission structure, Ghost Recon is in the Ubisoft style of old—millions of icons spread across a gigantic map. Supplies to mark, weapons to pick up, outpost missions, it’s all there. Ubisoft threw out some numbers for us about its fictional Bolivia: 21 regions, with 26 boss missions, and the whole expanse open to you from the start of the game.
We played two of those regions in our demo and it took us 2-3 hours just to complete the missions. Extrapolate that out and you’re talking about 40-50 hours of stuff to do, much of which involves infiltrating a base, killing everyone, and leaving. If you got tired of taking out enemy encampments in Just Cause, I don’t think Ghost Recon is going to do you much better.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands
I’m admittedly torn though, because rolling through the Bolivian wilderness in a group of four, one driving while the rest of us hung out the windows guns blazing is fun, in a dumb and mindless way. And I’ve certainly got plenty of stories to tell from our session, the ones above simply being the most concise and memorable. Whether trying to break a tank through the walls of an enemy base, or using the character creator to make Solid Snake, or flying a helicopter into a flamboyance of flamingos, it was a good time. Like The Division, I think people will particularly enjoy playing this one with friends.
But also like The Division, I’m not convinced yet that Ubisoft’s really nailed down this game, nor does what little I played feel like Ghost Recon or even a Tom Clancy title to me. Maybe that’s fine. Maybe not.
We’ll see, regardless. Ghost Recon: Wildlands releases March 7, and we’ll have a better idea how the game progresses once we’ve explored more of its fictional Bolivia, guns blazing.
Someone asked me about using the disavow tool to combat negative SEO and regain lost rankings. The following is a detailed explanation of what is typically involved with finding a solution for a negative SEO attack.Disavow Tool of Limited Usefulness
That’s also the reason why Google purposely makes the tool hard to find, because they feel it’s not necessary. John Mueller said that explicitly, that Google purposely makes the disavow tool difficult to find.
Google actively discourages the use of the disavow tool and the ONLY reason it exists is because the SEO community BEGGED Google for a disavow tool. Google resisted offering a disavow tool, but after several months relented and offered it.
The tool is not something Google forced on SEOs. The tool is something SEOs begged Google to provide.
As it stands, Googlers have repeatedly stated that the proper use of the disavow tool is when you know you have bad links, as in you’re responsible for them.
Googlers do not encourage publishers to use the disavow tool to fight negative SEO. Why would they? Googler’s don’t even believe in negative SEO.
Google’s John Mueller on How to Use Disavow Tool – Two More Times
Google Discourages Use of Disavow Tool. Unless You Know the Bad LinksGoogler Gary Illyes Has Never Seen a Real Case of Negative SEO
I recently wrote this (citation below):
“Gary Illyes stated at PubCon Florida 2023 that out of hundreds of negative SEO reports he has examined, none of them were real. The reason the sites experienced ranking drops were due to other reasons.
Google’s John Mueller on Disavow Tool – FULL TRANSCRIPT
How Negative SEO Shaped Disavow ToolDo Link Related Penalties Exist?
Yes, link related penalties still exist. But no, random low quality scraper links don’t cause penalties. Google is ignoring low quality links.
Link related manual actions are real and they are still happening. It “seems” like there have been a lot of link related manual actions handed out from March through April 2023.
There was quite a bit of chatter about those in Google Webmaster Forums, as well as publishers coming to me for help in removing those penalties.
I believe that understanding link distance ranking algorithms could help people better understand why Google is so confident about their ability to neutralize low quality links.
Link distance ranking algorithms are among the newest techniques for analyzing links in a search engine. Google and other researchers have published research papers and patents about it.
Reading about these algorithms may help publishers gain an understanding of why Google is so confident about being able to neutralize the influence of low quality links.Is Negative SEO Real?
I believe that what some people regard as negative SEO is not really negative SEO. Many sites accumulate low quality links, including adult type links. It’s a normal pattern on the web.
Spammers (and white hat SEOs) believe that linking out to high quality sites will help their sites appear less spammy. But if you have just a little understanding of link analysis, then you’ll know that the search engines are not only two steps ahead of that practice, they’re actually about a thousand miles ahead.
Is it possible to negative SEO? I believe it is possible, but not in the way that people currently think it’s done. I don’t dare share any more details than that.
I believe that negative SEO is a convenient scapegoat to avoid acknowledging problems with site itself. Many have approached me about negative SEO that could not be resolved through the disavow tool. A review has often revealed that the problem was within the site and not due to negative SEO.Scapegoats and Red Herrings
I’ve been approached by people who claim to be affected by Negative SEO and upload huge disavow lists every month. Yet they never, never find relief, their rankings never improve.
That’s like rubbing olive oil on your broken arm with the belief that if you keep on rubbing it just a little more the arm will heal. But it never heals because rubbing it does nothing.
Everybody’s baby is beautiful and well behaved to the parent. The baby is perceived differently by everybody else.
The real problem affecting the site tends to become more evident to someone looking at the site from the outside.Negative SEO: The Takeaway
If your disavows aren’t working, if your rankings aren’t returning, then you should stop and consider that the real problem is something else.
If disavowing low quality links does not work, the solution is to acknowledge that the problem lies elsewhere.
The real problem is likely in the website itself, not outside of it. Acknowledging this reality is to take the first step toward correcting the real problem that’s affecting your rankings.More Resources
Phishing Tactics You Aren’t Aware Of The Malicious Microsoft Office File
In this, the malicious Microsoft Office file is sent to the user instructing them to open and edit the document or just go through the document. These Microsoft Office files contain malware, ransomware, spyware, and Trojans and when you open any such file, your system gets infected.How to stay protected from it?
Do not open attachments you receive from unknown sources. Always use the latest version of Microsoft Office on your system. Install a trusted antivirus and antimalware product on your machine.The Irate customer
Once the unsuspecting employee opens the message and attachment, the whole system gets infected.How to stay protected?
Before opening the attachments check if the customer is genuine or not. And if there is any suspicion then ask the customer to explain the issue and send the records. Keep a good antivirus and antimalware program installed on your system.The Fake Job Listing
There is no job in this type of application; however, the only thing the user will get is their identity gets stolen.How to stay away from this scam?
Check the credibility of the organization. Check if the job portal website is legitimate or not. Check the company address if it is true. You can also call the company and confirm if requirements are true or not.
Also Read : Systems That Are Vulnerable To AttacksUpdate Personal Information Requests or to Resolve a Discrepancy
We have all received emails requesting us to send or change our personal information from our bank or credit card company. There is very little chance that bank or credit card company will send emails requesting the information. Scammers send these emails in order to get information, they make very good fake clone of the websites of bank or credit card company. Once you enter the information it gets transferred to the scammers.How to stay protected?
Always check the message for grammatical errors and do a spell check, scammers often make these types of mistakes. Also, check the URLs present in the message, they should be wrongly spelled. Also contact the bank or credit card company directly and then update the information.Messages from Friend’s Social Media Account How to avoid it? Spear Phishing Attack
Must Read : How Safe Is Your Android Phone For A Digital Transaction?How to avoid it?
Always double check if the message that is sent is being sent by a genuine person or not. Check if the link is fake or not. Check every email and message with caution.
Phishing attacks can be avoided with little knowledge. We should install best antivirus program on our system with a best antimalware program. These programs will help in removing any threats present on the system and will also block the malicious links. Phishing attacks are becoming more common and common; therefore, they must be stopped at any cost.Quick Reaction:
About the author
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There are a lot of articles and people promoting “quick SEO fixes” on the internet.
A quick Google search for “SEO tactics” returned about 14,100,000 results in less than a second.
But if there’s one thing the last few decades have taught us, it’s that you can’t believe everything you read online.
These recommendations and tactics may have been based on the author’s misunderstanding of how search works.
They could be the result of a lack of experience or industry knowledge.
Wherever they came from, here is a list of seven of those stupid SEO tactics to avoid so they don’t seriously hurt your long-term SEO performance.1. Assembly Line SEO Strategy
I define “assembly line SEO” as when a person or agency uses the same exact tactics for every client without any customization.
Many of the larger SEO agencies use this strategy for their SMB division because it’s efficient to manage.
Typically, after the site goes through its first round of on-page optimizations, the routine tactics include blogging and paying for links.
However, just because it’s easy, doesn’t mean it’s always the best.
This type of strategy may be fruitful for a short period of time, but unless there’s zero competition, the website is bound to experience a growth plateau.What To Do Instead
Instead of getting stuck in this routine “task-based” strategy, focus on finding out unique ways to deliver value to your website’s audience.
Investigate what your competitor’s top-ranking content is, and how they’re approaching their content strategy.
Make a list of all of your competitor’s strategies and look for content gap opportunities.
Take these opportunities and make sure your content is built to serve your audience at each stage of their purchase funnel.
The continual research and content production may be more time-consuming, but it will inevitably be more fruitful.
Another added bonus is that this will show your stakeholders that you truly care about their performance.2. Blaming Performance Drops On Algorithm Updates (Without Evidence)
Performance drops can happen as suddenly and frequently as algorithm updates, depending on the website.
These days, algorithm updates happen so frequently that it could be easy to point fingers at Google and say they caused your rankings and organic traffic to drop.
Sometimes, it’s true!
However, more often than not, performance drops can occur for different reasons.
Some common reasons for organic performance drops include:
Newly discovered technical issues on the site.
Significant content changes.
Keeping those possibilities in mind, it’s important that we don’t take the easy way out and blame an algorithm update.
If your website just recently took a hit, don’t panic!
Somethings things just happen, and your traffic will return on its own.
What you don’t want to do is start making significant changes to your site. This may lead to even more complications with your organic performance.What To Do Instead
There are several SEO recovery guides out there that you can reference for more in-depth steps on how to bounce back from organic performance drops.
Here are some quick tips on how to investigate whether your site was truly hit by an algorithm.
Did Google Discover New Technical Issues?
A technical issue is one of the more common reasons why a site’s performance may drop.
This usually happens when a site admin unknowingly updates various parts of the site and creates significant technical issues.
Investigate this issue by checking the following places:
Check the coverage report in Google Search Console.
Run a Screaming Frog or Sitebulb crawl to check for structural changes and crawl traps.
Run an automated audit in your SEO tool of choice to look for any hidden errors.
Check chúng tôi for any new disallow directives.
Run a fetch and render to see how Google may be rendering your site.
Significant Content Changes
This is another common cause for significant ranking fluctuations. Some sites, such as ecommerce, frequently change content.
If your site rarely updates content and experiences a dip in organic traffic or rankings, then you may want to investigate if your client or another site admin made some unexpected changes.
Some ways you can investigate site changes include:
Check the Changes tool in the Wayback Machine.
Install an activity log plugin to track your site changes.
Investigate which pages in Google Analytics took the biggest hit and analyze those pages.
It’s rare to find sites that are unaffected by some sort of seasonality.
Whenever a stakeholder comes to you freaking out about site performance dips, make sure to check your year-over-year benchmarks.
Compare quarterly trend lines on top of each other so you can show your stakeholders that these dips may not be unusual.
Additionally, you should forecast ahead to let them know of any future expected dips based on the previous year’s trends.
The key here is that you’re still improving year-over-year.
Some traffic changes can occur because of a competitor improving its organic strategy.
Typically, this will be indicated by a steady decline in organic performance, and is unusual for it to occur with sharp drops in performance.
If you think that your competitors are starting to steal your rankings from you, don’t panic!
I have a Python script that allows you to spy on your organic competitors. It will display who’s continually ranking for your topic keywords.
Manual actions are not as frequent as they used to be, but they still happen.
If your site has experienced a steep drop in traffic, take a look at Google Search Console for any manual actions.3. Copying Location Page Copy
When developing location pages for large websites with many locations, creating unique copy for each location can be tedious and time-consuming.
You can get a much better local ranking performance by focusing on unique copy for each location page.
Check out my location page checklist to learn how to create the ultimate location page.4. Using Automated Auditing Tools To Drive Strategy
Relying on automated tools may not be the best way to drive your organic strategy.
Many new SEO professionals tend to conduct their initial SEO audits with automated tools and let that guide their global SEO strategy.
What’s the problem with this?
These SEO grading tools don’t “ask questions.”
The key to any good SEO strategy is to ask questions including, but certainly not limited to:
Who’s my target audience and what information do they need to take action?
Are there any obstacles for Google to crawl and interpret my site?
Does my internal linking structure facilitate entity optimization?What To Do Instead
Invest in a tool like Screaming Frog or Sitebulb and learn how to look holistically at a site.
Use visualization tools to analyze the structure of a site.
Look for content gap opportunities and ensure that your technical structure is sound.
When your technical foundation is clean, search engines may have an easy time discovering, crawling, and rendering your webpages.5. Paying For Links
Now I know this article is meant to be focused on white hat tactics, but there is a gray hat method of link building in which you can pay link building companies for guaranteed links.
This is a great way to guarantee that you get a specific number of backlinks for your clients each month.
However, quality and relevance are almost never up to par.What To Do Instead
Link building tends to have a snowball effect.
If you get links in well-known publications, it’s possible that another writer will discover you and link to you in their own articles.
However, this is a less common occurrence with smaller DA backlinks.
I recommend investing in some PR partners to help you craft content and get features in noteworthy publications.
These larger publications tend to have a greater rate of organically growing your backlink profile through the snowball effect.6. Being Too Scared To Ask Questions
It’s too easy to just search for the answers to your questions, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
However, when it comes to strategy or tackling specific problems, Google may not always return the right answer for you.
It’s OK to reach out to your peers for help. Even the best of us frequently run polls and ask for help on Twitter. There’s absolutely no shame in that.
In fact, it’s highly encouraged!
No respectable SEO will make fun of you for not knowing something.
We all have to learn somehow.
If you’re still a little too nervous, reach out to Search Engine Journal’s Ask an SEO column to get your anonymous questions answered publicly. That way others may benefit from the shared knowledge.7. Ignoring Other Pillars Of SEO
Most SEOs consider there to be three pillars of SEO: content, link building, and technical.
However, I like to add “local” as a fourth pillar because it really does use elements of all three in a unique fashion.
Ignoring any of these pillars for too long can either delay your rankings from improving or inhibit them all together.
For example, if your initial audits show that there are a large number of technical issues, you may be eager to get those out of the way and spend all of your time cleaning those up.
If possible, try to allocate your resources to work on each pillar of SEO at the same time.
If you spend all of your time fixing technical issues or conducting link outreach, but you forget to improve your content, then your rankings may not improve the way you were intending.Final Thoughts
Now, I know some of these SEO tactics might work for some websites for a period of time.
The point here is that the bigger picture of SEO is a lot more complicated than what’s captured by these simple techniques.
Don’t get distracted by them and stay focused on driving sustainable, lasting results.
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