Changes at Google Create the Need to Re-think Online Marketing Strategies

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Over the last 16 months Google has been making significant changes to their ranking algorithm. It started with the release of the “Panda” update in February 2011, which resulted in a decrease in search engine traffic and affected many online businesses. It was then followed by the “Penguin” update in April 2012, which is aimed at decreasing the search engine ranking of websites that do not follow Google’s best practices.

The “Penguin” update has impacted a large number of websites, including travel affiliate websites that had one thing in common; SEO strategy that depended on seeding a high number of links from low quality websites with over-optimised content.

These websites will not recover their organic search traffic and ranking unless they revisit their digital marketing strategy and make some major adjustments to their SEO strategy.

Travel websites now need to focus on the quality of their inbound links and the authority of the linking websites. They also need to re-evaluate their keyword strategy. With “Penguin” in place, top search engine result pages (SERPs) are dominated by big travel brands for highly competitive keywords. Smaller travel websites need to start focusing on lower-competition keywords, exact match domains and pursuing narrow niches.

Social Media is another area travel websites should focus on. Google’s search engine in particular is now implementing their own social network (Google Plus) into the way results are ranked on their SERPs. To make search results more relevant to users, Google favour links that are recommended by the user’s Google Plus network and rank it higher than other websites. Similarly, Bing and Yahoo favour links that are recommended by other social networks.

Overall, travel sites will perform well if their digital marketing strategy has an emphasis on inbound marketing such as content, SEO, social media, conversation and user experience.

Therefore, “Penguin” has created the perfect opportunity for those in the travel industry to ensure that their online marketing strategy is current and their site is optimised to its full potential. Only by aligning with “Penguin” guidelines can a site compete with similar services on search engines.

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