Google-Proofing Your Business, Protect Yourself from Google Algorithm Updates
Eat24 Gives Facebook a Not-So-Fond Farewell
In business, your best friend is you. Build up your clientele and customer-base. Sell yourself on your own merits. And most importantly, don’t rely on third parties. Case in point: Eat24. When a popular brand ditches social media, people tend to take notice.
Much like Google’s own fabled Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird, Facebook relies on complex algorithms to determine what shows up in a user’s news feed. However, as Eat24 notes in their “break up letter” to Facebook, the constant changes required by an ever-evolving online environment often have negative effects on businesses.
The trouble is that the algorithms used by Google and Facebook are more about furthering those companies’ own agendas, rather than servicing businesses. It’s become such a problem in recent years that some entrepreneurs actively seek to “Google-proof” their companies and protect themselves from Google Algorithm changes.
One of the most famous examples is Jason Calacanis, creator of the new app-based news service called Inside. Jason is the former owner of the website Mahalo, and when the Google algorithm “Panda” dropped in 2011, his business was heavily impacted. Essentially a human-run search engine, Mahalo nonetheless relied on traffic driven to it by Google searches. When Panda launched in February 2011, Mahalo took a 77% drop in site traffic, and has continued to drop since then (current estimates put it at a 92% decline as of 2013). Only one week after the Panda algorithm took its toll on Mahalo, Jason Calacanis laid off 10% of his staff due to the severe cut in business revenue.
Eat24 experienced a very similar story, but with Facebook instead of Google. Facebook applies similar algorithms (minus the animal-themed names), in order to direct what news an average user sees on their daily feed. Sometimes this shows relevant news stories or your favorite restaurant’s daily special…sometimes it’s Miley Cyrus’ new album cover or your next door neighbor raving about the sandwich they just ate.
Expressing frustration very similar to Jason Calacanis’, Eat24 rage-quit Facebook once and for all, taking the opportunity to spell out exactly why in their blog “The Bacon Sriracha Unicorn Diaries” with a lengthy, sarcastic, and brutally honest letter about not just their reasoning, but how changes made by Facebook can affect businesses adversely.
“When we first met, you made us feel special. We’d tell you a super funny joke about sriracha and you’d tell all our friends and then everyone would laugh together. But now? Now you want us to give you money if we want to talk to our friends. Now when we show you a photo of a taco wrapped with bacon, you’re all like ‘PROMOTE THIS POST! GET MORE FRIENDS!’ instead of just liking us for who we are. That’s hella messed up.”
The letter continues in the same vein, mingling witty commentary with trademarked, food-centric attitude.
They continued to detail Facebook’s new attitude, “But we loved you, Facebook, so we tried to understand you and your algorithm. As far as we could tell though, it involves words like ‘affinity’ and ‘time decay.’ There also might be a Greek letter in there somewhere, but we’re not sure cuz we got bored and ordered a Panini. Look Facebook, all we’re saying is that we wanted to share a joke about chicken wings, not ponder astrophysics.”
That just about sums it up. Most businesses don’t have in-house tech support to decipher the Matrix. That’s where SEO comes in. You want Google-Proof? PPC (pay-per-click) advertising is one such way, allowing your company to stay at the top of the list for search terms, regardless of algorithm changes.
There’s an important point to be made in all of this: you can’t rely on any single third party. Your business’ best friend is you, the owner. Social media can be a powerful marketing too, but as Eat24 found out, even that is unreliable. The best way to keep your business from being held hostage by any single online marketing platform, be it Google, Facebook, or the “next big thing” is to ensure as much coverage as possible. Post on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, as many social media outlets as you can manage. Make sure your website is constantly up-to-date, and blog about relevant topics weekly. The newest Google algorithm, Hummingbird, focuses on quality content, so create the best content you can think of, the kind that other people will want to link to. Most importantly, make your site visible to everyone and you will never end up on the receiving end of Google’s (or Facebook’s) algorithm changes again.