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During the month of November many website entrepreneurs were shaken when Google made its infamous "Florida" update, wiping out search positions for several high-ranking websites, which disappeared from the "top 100" overnight. While all the details behind the Google changes are still not known, it is possible for website owners to learn something from this experience and take steps which will ensure that they will not be adversely affected by future upheavals of this sort. I have compiled a list of six steps that can be taken to bring about steady, long term success regardless of search engine fluctuations.

1. Stick to the Basics: Instead of trying to outsmart the search engines, build a website that is both search engine friendly and stocked with useful content for your end-users. In the long run, you will be rewarded for such efforts and your website will achieve its best possible position even in the face of changes in search engine algorithms.

2. Don’t Over Optimize your site: Write your website’s text naturally. Sure, your main keywords have to be included on your site, in your headlines, in your opening paragraph and in some of the links on your site, but don’t overdo it. It is thought that Google applied a filter in its latest update which penalized sites for keyword densities that were higher than would be normally expected.

3. Don’t Indulge in "Linking Frenzy": During the past year, as more people became aware of Google’s PageRank system, there was a feverish effort to trade links and get links from sites with high page ranks. The importance of Page Rank in determining search results on Google is uncertain in light of the new updates, and doesn’t even figure on other search engines which may come to play a more important role in the future. (Google currently accounts for around 75% of search engine activity, but should Yahoo switch to Inktomi in the coming year Google’s share will decline).

As I mentioned in a recent article ( ) pursue link exchanges if these links can generate traffic or if they can provide a valuable resource for your web visitors. Don’t worry about Page Rank, and don’t rely on linking alone to boost your site’s standing in search results. The traffic that you get from good links will make a steady contribution to your website’s success.

4. Diversify your promotion efforts: Take a log at your log files and website statistics and see where your traffic is coming from. Instead of trying to compete for a heavily
contested keyword or keyword phrase see if there are variations that you can use to reach your target audience.

Diversification also means not relying on search alone. Participation in forums and online discussions, publishing your articles on other websites and in ezines will also bring steady streams of traffic that will not be affected by search engine updates.

5. Find a Niche: One of the biggest difficulties faced by Internet entrepreneurs is that they are selling products or services that are no different from those of several thousand other competitors. If you sell something that is specialized or unique, then your task of achieving prominence in search results will be eased considerably. Even if you do not have something that is unique, you should consider a niche in which you can market your product. Suppose you are a web designer. If you try to compete for the keyword phrase "web design" you will find it difficult to get success. But, suppose you compete for "Web Design, Iowa" (assuming that you live in Iowa!) your chances are much better.

6. Get Ready to Pay for your advertising: Let’s face it, if there are thousands of websites competing for a particular search phrase, only 50 of them can make it onto the first five pages of most major search engines. While a building a well optimized site is still one of the most cost effective measures that a web owner can take, in some of the heavily contested fields it may be necessary to sometimes participate in pay-per-click advertising in order to be able to stand out from the crowd.

Take a look at your website and your business activity, and see where you can make modifications that will improve your prospects for long-term success. If you do so, you will not be troubled by the next update of Google or any other search engine.

This Web Marketing article was written by Donald Nelson on 3/22/2005

Donald Nelson is a web developer, editor and social worker. He has been working on the Internet since 1995, and is currently the director of A1-Optimization (, a firm providing low cost search engine optimization, submission and web promotion services.