Hard working spa owners invest great time and resources to maximize their online visibility and ensure they rank high among the right Google searches. It is a simple fact that being ranked organically #1 on Google is still the most effective way to drive web traffic, attract new clientele and achieve ongoing sales growth. It is similarly true that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) remains a spa owner’s best long-term online marketing strategy.
Even the savviest of spa owners, however, are typically unaware that regular “algorithm updates” by the good folks at Google can completely unravel their online marketing strategies. Because of these software updates, spas that once boasted “Page One” status on Google searches might now literally be invisible to prospective customers. And that’s a business killer.
In the past month Google has released at least one disruptive software update each week. In the past six months, Google has launched three major updates, unseating many websites from the first position and first search results page. Countless other sites have been penalized with reductions in rankings of -30, -60, or -90. In some cases, previously high ranking web sites were completely de-indexed, meaning they were literally removed entirely from Google search results.
While these frequent updates and threats to your online marketing strategy do not automatically spell failure for your business, it is essential that you remain on top of the situation and follow six key steps to ensure that you are in control of your spa’s online presence.
As a preventive measure, content is not always king. Traditional thinking has long suggested that “Content is King” when it comes to web sites. I prefer to operate under the mantra that, as a preventive measure, “Value is King.” Sure, content is an important part of value, but helping people solve real problems and meeting the needs of your clients will always result in site popularity and longevity. Search engine measurement of social interaction is already happening via “Social Cues,” which can help strengthen your search rankings. Google and other search engines rank websites based upon a few core fundamentals, such as inbound linking and proper on-page optimization. Adhering to these best practices will ensure your website is well regarded and continues to rank well. And, as search engines become more advanced in the future, they will find additional ways to measure the helpfulness and real-world value you provide to your clientele.
Take steps to ensure Google is never your only source of website traffic. Start-ups with limited marketing budgets may need to initially focus on just one online marketing strategy, like ranking well within Google; however, your long-term preventive strategy must always be to diversify the sources that bring traffic to your web site – and revenue to your business. The world has become populated by a far wider range of social media outlets, and your spa needs to be part of them all. One very simple strategy is to make certain you have a presence on YouTube. Video-based YouTube is not only an excellent vehicle for showcasing your spa offerings; it is also the world’s second largest search engine – bigger than Yahoo and Bing combined! Similar online diversification should include your company’s presence on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Don't’ freak out – it doesn’t have to be Armageddon! If an update does affect your search engine ranking, there is no immediate need for panic. Your first step should be to give the situation a few days to determine the long-term impact. Although your website may have lost rankings, it is possible that it can rebound on its own. While many naysayers will preach doomsday and fear mongering, your first step should be to stay calm and market on.
Assess the damage. Google will never release the exact nature of an algorithm update as it is against company policy, so you really won’t know what you’re up against. To correct for an update takes real testing and tracking. If your site is negatively affected by an update, there are a few steps you can take to evaluate the how badly you’ve been hit.
- Keep a record of the top 10 competitors that are on the first page of Google’s search results.
- Take notice of your closest competitor’s site. Has it been removed from the first page of search results? Has that site increased in rank?
- Evaluate the site that has seen a negative impact using available online tools like SEMRush.com & Woorank.com. Tools like this will give you insight into your competition backlinking strategy and on-page optimization techniques.
Take your findings to an experienced SEO professional for evaluation. Quality SEO firms will have access to real qualitative data on hundreds of websites, effectively removing the “guess work” from your preliminary assessment. An SEO professional can help you evaluate the details of a Google algorithm update, including how to adhere to best practices,and help you assess options for correcting the situation.
See every update as an opportunity. Since there is nothing you can do to deter Google updates, I recommend that you welcome the changes and realize that the threshold of quality and barrier to entry have been turned up. After all, your competitors have been affected as well. The key is to realize it quickly, assess the damage and take steps to move forward. Each update, for example, is your opportunity to:
- Be the first to correctly adjust to the latest update - putting you ahead of the pack.
- Better protect your online presence for the long haul. Spammy, pop-up sites that may have quickly jumped to first page positions will fall off while you remain steady and enjoy the added gains for your business.
There is no question that Google and its competitors will continue to issue these types of updates and all business will continue to face potentially negative impact. With a few preventive measures and post-update steps, however, your business can avoid becoming invisible to prospective clients and, with a bit more effort, rebuild to an even stronger online presence.