In the old days, there were clear cut ways to game search engines and rank well for whatever keyword you pleased. You could keyword stuff, spam exact match anchor text through article directories or social bookmarks, or create link networks to manipulate your way to the top and profit.
Then Google Panda hit and things changed drastically.
Of course, SEOs still have to admit that some of the manipulative stuff still works. No SEO should ignore the fact that black hat still works – no question. As a matter of fact, any SEO should always take a look at what strategies black hats are using or what they’re discussing. It’s a helpful learning experience for everyone and could even help you think of new ideas.
But the focus isn’t on that.
The focus is on how Panda has slapped some sense into many people and have them back on the right track.
Panda has caused people to realize that there is really only one important question to ask whenever you’re engaging on social media, writing content, link building or creating a new product:
Am I Adding Value?
This is what the world was built on. Add value for others. Help others first. Get returns from helping others.
Somewhere along the line, the search engines came and many of us decided to game the system. Rather than focus on creating value, we created trash. Mounds and mounds of trash.
Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of
civilization up until 2003, according to Schmidt. That’s something like five exabytes of data, he says.
Then the search engines got smarter. Much smarter. In 2012 we’re seeing paid link networks get torched, people starting to stray from exact match anchor text link building, and content marketing seeing an upward trend.
The Search Engines Are Catching On
Just take a look at this video inside Googleplex where top search engineers are discussing potential changes to their search algorithm.
Do you see the level of detail that goes into their discussions? These are the best minds in the world working on creating a great search experience for their users.
They understand that if they fail, their ad revenues will drop across the board. That’s not the only reason though.
You see, working on something cool means there’s a good chance you’ll become passionate about it. Once you become passionate about something, you want to be damn good at it.
So why do these Google engineers work so damn hard? Because they want to add value to the world.
It’s a concept we all lose sight of from time to time. Good thing Panda came out in time to make a lot of us realize that creating value, not trash, is the top priority.
It’s Time To Shift Our Mindsets to Where They Should’ve Been
To reiterate again, no one is saying black hat tactics don’t work – they’re just tougher to sustain. If you’re looking for something long term, focus on people instead.
Recently, a black hatter wrote about how he was trying to shift his SEO strategy from black hat to white hat because the costs were starting to add up and he just didn’t want to deal with the risk anymore.
Guess what happened? He still got torched.
So rather than going from black to grey to white hat, you might as well start from the white side.
“Being grey or black hat is like always having a herd of zombies running after you.” – Jonathon Colman
The time wasted trying to figure out how to manipulate the system would probably be better spent on creating something remarkable for users. Besides, who doesn’t like the added benefit of engagement and new relationships from great content? From becoming a better writer to establishing your brand on other websites, the benefits are countless.
So next time, whenever you’re considering a darker tactic to try to get ahead of the system, think about this question:
Am I adding value?
If the answer is no, you should probably rethink your strategy. It’s not worth sacrificing so much time to build an empire only to see it go up in flames in a day.
Just look at the previously popular link networks like Build My Rank. Gone with a wave of a wand.
Has Google Panda altered your online marketing strategy in any way?