Google Algorithm Update Anxiety (GAUA) is a serious disorder that afflicts many marketers around the world. The condition was first discovered by scientists in April of 2003 when Google released its Cassandra algorithm update. Since then, the GAUA disorder has become a pandemic.
Its most recent outbreak occurred on May 22nd after Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, announced the release of Penguin 2.0. Today, doctors have announced they’ve discovered the cure for this marketing plague.
Google Algorithm Update Anxiety Overview
GAUA symptoms include: Headache, upset stomach, nausea, back pain, muscle pain, nasal stuffiness, shortness of breath, flushing, pain in arms or legs, dizziness, reduced organic search traffic, and angry clients.
Marketers have a greater chance of developing this disorder if they repeat the same keywords over and over, manually build inbound links, meticulously keyword-sculpt every aspect of every web page, calculate and track keyword saturation rates, participate in link farms, buy links, publish lots of on-site ads, duplicate content, publish infrequently, or generally just publish useless and boring content.
There are two types of SEO practitioners today. The first type loves it when Google updates its algorithm because they know their path to optimal search engine visibility will be a little less crowded. The second type experiences an acute level of anxiety and concern because they know their work -- in its entirety -- does little to benefit the overall user experience of a website visitor.
How to Eliminate GAUA Disorder
The eradication of this illness is simple enough -- it starts with a marketing lifestyle change. Google has clearly communicated what it expects from webmasters when it comes to SEO, and it’s getting better and better at rewarding sites that follow its quality guidelines. There are no tricks or secret sauce to SEO anymore. Marketers who do not explicitly adhere to the principles below will continue to suffer from GAUA disorder.
Google’s Quality Guidelines - Basic Principles
Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
Don't deceive your users.
Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb: Consider whether you'd feel comfortable explaining what you've done to a competitor or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, "Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn't exist?"
Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.
Unfortunately, telling GAUA victims to simply make a marketing lifestyle change is akin to telling someone who wants to lose weight to eat less. It just doesn’t work. They’ve spent years sculpting websites for search engines and not users, while simultaneously creating valueless links in forums, directories, blog comments, and anywhere else possible.
Scientists were keenly aware of this when they developed the breakthrough cure. It requires two prescriptions from the family of drugs known as Inbound Marketing.
The On-Page SEO Prescription
Doctors now have the ability to prescribe one of the most powerful medications ever created for combating GAUA disorder: content.
Publishing copious amounts of great problem-solving and/or entertaining content online consistently gives marketers many more opportunities to show up and rank in search engines. In fact, according to HubSpot's Marketing Benchmarks Report, companies that blog 15 or more times per month get five times more traffic than companies that don’t blog at all. In addition, Google’s Freshness update to its Caffeine indexing system seeks to reward the most recently published relevant content.
Furthermore, Google’s Panda algorithm rewards relevant and original content while identifying poor quality content in its index. Creating content works with Panda to help extinguish GAUA disorder.
While content creation was engineered to treat instances of GAUA disorder caused by on-page SEO, it also helps with off-page SEO by enabling site owners to naturally attract relevant inbound links to their remarkable content. Additional off-page signals are also created when the resulting content is shared throughout social media.
The Off-Page SEO Prescription
Doctors have pulled a page from traditional public relations (PR), made modifications, and updated it for today’s digital age. Earning online media coverage using digital PR techniques quickly and effectively eliminates GAUA symptoms caused by off-page factors.
While content plays a critical role in naturally attracting links over time, strategic earned media acts like a nitrous injection of naturally earned inbound links.
This digital PR case study shows an example of how one off-site article on a popular online publication increased one month’s lead acquisition by 82% versus the month prior, grew site-wide conversion rates to 9.4%, drove 2,251 unique visitors, and converted 859 visitors to leads -- all in just two weeks. To date, this one inbound link has driven over 3,000 conversions.
Additionally, the campaign drove large amounts of off-page signals and brand mentions. Because popular online media outlets are routinely syndicated and shared across the internet, that one article drove over 1,000 social media mentions and nearly 900 natural inbound links. The query below shows one sentence in the earned media article that contained a link to an owned landing page.
Once treatment for this disorder begins, rehabilitation happens quickly. As traffic and leads begin to substantially grow, the positive marketing behaviors described above are reinforced.
As more and more time goes by, these behaviors become habit and the GAUA sufferer is cured. And if enough people seek treatment, the internet will contain far less spam than it does today, SEO will simply look like good inbound marketing, and consumers will be much happier. It’s a cure that affects more than just the victims of this vicious disorder.
This is a guest post by Chad Pollitt. Chad is a decorated veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and former army commander; a member of a Forbes Top 100 List, and the director of marketing at digitalrelevance. His articles have been published in dozens of newspapers, magazines, and websites throughout the world.
Originally published Jun 21, 2013 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017