The recent reshuffle of the Google results has severely affected one of my most active websites with traffic falling more than 80%. It was one of my biggest single earners in terms of money and loosing revenue from it is a big time bad news for me.

After almost 3+ years of solid rankings and earnings, the sudden drop on the website was a surprise. The website in question was very genuine, with original content, optimized and valuable content for many keywords. Initially it was curiosity, to know why PANDA update caught my website in its filters and kicked it out of top spots.

After a lot of time spent talking to fellow friends in the industry and reading up as much as I could in the forums, I was even more confused than I ever was. I could not find a single reason why this has happened apart from the fact that the website has not been updated frequently.

Most SEO specialists I talked to are confused about the new ranking factors that has come up with the PANDA update of google and a select smart marketers are using this opportunities to use their own imagination to come up with new “ranking factors” (in finger quotes).

In short, something is changing with the way Google analyzes and ranks website. I am no longer sure about what works and what does not. Websites created in the same way for two different niches with the same quality standards, one ranks well and the other gets the boot. :-X

Today I was talking to one of my friends about his latest venture which was about selling tour and travel packages across India. He had dropped by to know how SEO and SEM can help his business. One led to another and I was soon able to help him out with a lot of marketing options on a low budget which was not rocket science and I was surprised at myself for finding so many ways to market his company without using Google at all!!

After the brainstorming, I was surprised about the world of traffic which exists without Google! Personally, over the last decade, I had been dead straight on with SEO alone so much that I did not bother about anything else other than Google to pull traffic to websites.

In this new marketing which I’d like to call “Marketing to the Islands” is about getting in touch with these small islands of targeted users and promoting your products/services to them. The reach will be much smaller in numbers, but conversions should work better than mass general marketing. It is nothing new, but if you are devastated about being given the boot or do not have enough budget for a SEO campaign here are your choices –

 

  • Guest Blogging – There are many blogs which are maintained by travel bloggers and most of these blogs have a community of readers following updates from the blogger. I am not considering the SEO advantage here in anyway, I am talking about bloggers who have friends following them on facebook, subscribed through RSS, email and any other way. Contacting these bloggers and having a post on their website about destinations along with a link to your website or a phone number should instigate interested travelers to get in touch with you.
  • Forums – There are a lot of travel related forums where frequent travellers hang out such as “India Mike” and others where there are frequently questions on planning itineraries and requests for help on choosing the right accommodation. By genuinely helping (not spamming) these travelers, there is a huge potential in revenue generation. Also, think about forums which are specific to your geography. For example, we own a forum called MyTechnopark which attracts over 100,000 pageviews a month and guess where the major traffic is from? Nope,  Not Google.
  • Group Buying – I don’t know about you, but I keep a tab on almost all the major group buying sites around my location to spot and grab good deals. By giving away your best deal on these websites, you stand to gain a lot of new clients. You can use these websites in the off-season when the rates will be lower and use the collective power of recommendations to build your business.
  • Social Networks – How much ever Google Plus tries to capture my time spent online, I am comfortable with Facebook for now.  I might soon be one of those people who stood out while everyone was busy building “authority” with Google Plus, but I am willing to take that chance for now.
  • Video Networks – I am not referring to YouTube here. I am talking about networks like Tripfilms which many travellers frequent to see places they want to visit, shot by camera wielding travelers is truly a great place to decide your next trip.
  • Other modes of Search – There is a lot of searching that goes on beyond Google, places like Just Dial have a huge number of  local lead generated every day and most of them are hot leads with genuine people looking to purchase your product or service. Thats’ valuable than a “click” from Google Adwords.

You do not really need Google to get your business off the ground. Think it is too much work? Yeah, it is, but with frequent changes in SEO these days and not everyone being sure about what works anymore, I would say “Marketing to the Islands” has a better chance of ROI than SEO at this point of time. Do let me know your thoughts on this regard and contact me if you want to share your experience with Google Algo changes.

As for me and my niche blogging, its another story blog post.

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