Google has been a bit up and down lately. Algorithm(icly) speaking (obvs).

If you’re down with the SEO cool kids, the general feeling when it comes to Google organic ranking, is that it’s getting more and more difficult to see if the sun’s coming up, going left, right or letting the moon have a go (technical terms for difficult to find statistical stability).

Google Panda update
(NOT) Google’s Panda Update.

No longer can you just run an analysis and tweak a few buttons – and sorry to be a party pooper – but you can’t just add a few extra keywords either.

If you’re not familiar with Google’s algorithm updates – here’s what they are and how they work.

Updates are introduced to improve the overall quality of the Google search results (and also to keep the goal posts moving for the people trying to manipulate search results – but more on that later).

Google is not free.

We’re fortunate to have an excellent reputation for paid and organic search marketing, and also with regards to SEO specifically (both content related and technical for the nerds reading this).

So naturally, we’ve worked through our fair share of meetings about the Big G (Mr Google).

I’ve always found one thing a bit difficult to get my head around… some businesses treat organic website traffic from Google as a stable asset.

“If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is”.


I mean, I get why people would count it in their KPIs and aim for growth – but I worry about how some businesses approach it. I much prefer a more holistically flexible approach, mixed with a bit of ‘what happens if?’.

Y’know; ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’, so to speak.

If I told you that ‘a mate of mine’ owns a website, and he’s going to send website traffic to your website – for free – you wouldn’t base your whole business model around it – but some do. It’s not right, but some do it.

There have been a series of Google algorithm updates that have left a lot of sites scrambling. Some major players have lost out, and some have won the lottery.

Folks who lose website traffic.

I’ve seen people change. Fear. Panic.

“The problem with communication, is the illusion that it has taken place”.

George Bernard-Shaw

How many marketing managers spent the last 12 months explaining to the decision makers why they need to invest to create a better experience for their customers, only to be told “I thought SEO was free”, or “Let’s try and grow it without investing”?

Or worse, as an old boss once said to me “I’m not encouraging Google by paying them more and more, I’d rather not spend it out of principle”.

There’s nothing like an opinion to get in the way of the facts.

I’d say 90% of the people I know who lost website traffic in an update, had already pleaded with the chiefs at the top to invest in it – only to be declined, only then to have silly, fixed growth targets assigned by chiefs who don’t get it and didn’t support the investment in it.

To be clear – I don’t write rants. This post, as always (as part of our content strategy) is about helping you to solve a problem or answer a question.

I think the most important thing to do if you’ve lost traffic in an algo update is sanity check your strategy. That’s it. It’s simple.

If you want to grow your website traffic there are many ways to do it.

Spending time conducting an effort vs return analysis, well… we’re all a bit busy, aren’t we? But…

  • What if we did have time to decide what kind of valuable content would assist our customers to make a purchasing decision and transact with us?
  • What if we did improve our conversion points to increase enquiries or spend?
  • What if every idea that came from outside of the marketing team had to have an effort vs expected return proposal?

Would it lead to growth?

  • Growth in sales?
  • Growth in enquiries?
  • Growth in engagement / brand awareness?

Would we care as much about a traffic drop if we were making more money from our online activity? If we could see how our advertising spend converts into profit?*.

*most businesses can by the way – it’s a myth that they can’t.

My advice, as it has been for donkeys years, is: let’s focus on the business model and grow every statistic we can that leads to a tangible business value.

Let’s make some f**%$@g money for our employers.

Make money from your website

Clients talk a lot about PPC spend and SEO spend. I talk about website advertising spend / ROI.

Here are some FREE SEO facts:

Google will move and shake the search results forever.

Because there are too many websites and not enough pages. It needs to keep the experience fresh, it needs to filter out people who aren’t updating their website and as ugly as it is; it needs to keep new players interested by sending them the odd chunk of traffic.

Sometimes you’ll go up – sometimes you’ll go down. What’s your back up plan? Remind the chiefs at the top that you told them this would happen.

Google needs a healthy level of competition to keep new businesses engaged and interested, and sustained businesses on their toes.

There’s nothing like a shake-up to get everyone to go in and have a tidy up, eh? So if you’re one of those businesses running around trying to address that traffic that you’ve ‘lost’ (it wasn’t yours in the first place) – then ask yourself: Did you have conversations with your stakeholders about improving the website experience?

  • Are your key stakeholders following your recommendations for investment in the website customer experience?
  • Would you benefit from improving your communication skills?
  • Are you talking to them in the right language: ‘spend this, we’ll get this back?’
  • Are you using specialists like Armchair Marketing (shameless plug. Sorry, not sorry) to help you get your point across with your key stakeholders?

Personally, I find the whole ‘SEO SCENE’ all a bit too geeky, and a bit of a chance for some folks to build and boost a bit of internal self esteem. #NoOffence.

I’m considered by the right people to be a website pro, so I’m pretty relaxed saying the above, and I have no trouble justifying the statement with my SEO skillz.

I’m also not an algo chaser, so I generally look at volatility as something that is temporary, and it usually is. Unless you’ve been doing naughty things, and, well, that’s a different story.

Lately, the Big G has been a bit haywire – a lot more updates than usual. Updates that are there, then not there, then replaced with a new update – oh wait, they’ve rolled out 3 more that they didn’t tell anyone about.

Most websites aren’t effected by algo updates – and even if they are, there’s plenty of ways to win back the traffic. Specifically, PPC is supposed to be ‘spend this, get this back’, so if it’s not – well that’s a good place to start…

That is of course, if the whole point of your marketing efforts are to make a profit…

More? Check out 5 reasons for ranking fluctuations.