Goodfellas has gone down as one of the greatest mobster movies that doesn’t contain the word “Godfather” in the title. Watching it the other day, I drew some parallels to a unique incident that happens in our industry. Let me take you through it. In Goodfellas, Joe Pesci, playing the role of Tommy DeVito, shot someone (Spider for those who remember it) and then had this exchange with Jimmy Conway played by Robert Deniro. (Graphic language blocked out for the young ones.)
Jimmy Conway: You stupid b*****d, I can’t f****n’ believe you. Now, you’re gonna dig the f****n’ thing now. You’re gonna dig the hole. You’re gonna do it. I got no f****n’ lime. You’re gonna do it.
Tommy DeVito: Who the f**k cares? I’ll dig the f****n’ hole. I don’t give a f**k. What is it, the first hole I dug? Not the first time I dug a hole. I’ll f****n’ dig a hole. Where are the shovels?
What a great scene in a mobster movie! BUT what does that have to do with digital marketing? I’ll tell you what it has to do with digital marketing. Jimmy and Tommy spent a lot of time digging a hole to make a body disappear to never be seen again. But the best hiding place for a dead body is really on the 2nd page of Google or beyond. Studies have shown that about 91.5% of search engine click throughs occur on the first page of search results. The rest of results pages only make up a slender 8.5% of clicks.
Even worse, recently, we have been approached by more and more companies that have been serviced by non-forward thinking SEO firms. These SEO firms pursue outdated and frankly lazy SEO tactics that put their clients’ sites in jeopardy. These tactics might have worked some time in the past but now, they do way more harm than good. Companies using these SEO providers have seen sharp declines in their organic traffic due to Google penalizing their site for spammy SEO tactics. In these cases, your site’s rankings go the way of Spider – buried on the second page of search results or far, far beyond that. We’ve even seen companies ranking on the 10th page of search results for their own brand names!
More and more companies are facing sharp declines like this because their SEO agency took the easy way out. The road back to Google’s good graces is not a fun one and can leave your business struggling while the traffic is not coming in. Overall, when confronted with a penalty there are really only 3 approaches.
- Fix it – Go through the arduous process of fixing it and pleading with Google trying to convince them that you’ve sworn off anything spammy.
- Hybrid – Look for a place to move your site or fold it into an existing partner site. This will allow you to distance your site from the past practices but still build off the SEO value of an already existing site. An example of this approach is folding a penalized satellite site into a subdirectory of your main company site.
- Start over – The cleanest approach to get back your rankings over time is closing shop at your penalized domain and reopening on a different server with a different domain name. This is also perhaps the clearest path to success since the ball is in your court and not left to the whim of Google and the responsiveness of their web spam team.
Each of these approaches has pros and cons, but you have to determine the best approach for your business based on what the data is telling you to do. We are strong believers of the mindset that the data has all the answers and that the answers are just waiting to be uncovered. So the next time Goodfellas comes on, enjoy the movie, but you also might want to think about how close your site is to being buried in a deep, deep hole never to be seen again.
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