Not Again?! How to Navigate as a Blogger in a Penguin 2.0 World

“Google, you’ve went and done it again!”

As it appears at the moment, Google has rolled out Penguin 2.0, which means changes have been made to their Google Algorithm.

Over the last week or so I have received several emails from frustrated bloggers and site owners that have already been affected. It is a paralyzing feeling for sure. It can be demoralizing to look in your Google Analytics account and see a significant drop in traffic.

Here are some of the comments and questions I have received:

“My website was hit hard earlier this year and now it got hit again towards the end of May. I am seriously getting discouraged here. My blog will be 2 years old and now my stats are barely worth the trouble to blog. Any advice about what to do? I need help!”

“What are new bloggers supposed to do about Google Penguin and all these updates? These updates are KILLING my traffic! This has happened twice so far!”

“Some webmasters are saying to get a new domain name and start a new website. Do you agree with this? It seems almost pointless to blog if Google only caters to bigger websites that have the money for marketing so they can drive traffic to their sites. Shame on Google for acting like a MONOPOLY! Do you have any advice about new bloggers can recover from these harsh updates? A post about this would REALLY help.”

How Does a Blogger Recover from a Loss of Significant Traffic?

I have pondered this a lot over the past few months and years. My advice will not be from a technical aspect, such as remove bad links, make these SEO changes, etc. There are people way more technical than I who can provide that advice.

When you really boil this whole issue down to the core, one truth surfaces:

“Focus on the areas you can control and let go of the rest.”  tweet that

Now, that doesn’t mean that I plan on throwing SEO out of the window. I will continue to work on safe SEO practices (like we share in Blogging Your Passion 201 and the more advanced SEO techniques in the 301 course).

However, I will spend more time, effort, and energy in the areas I can control. We all have become dependent on Google to bring us the traffic. There is no doubt Google has the ability to bring targeted traffic to your blog.

Still, it is wise for you to understand that Google is not the only game in town when it comes to traffic.

Understanding the 5 Types of Traffic

  • Search Traffic – This is the main source of traffic many bloggers have enjoyed over the past few years. Target keywords, get links, and enjoy high rankings with good traffic has been the strategy of most. For some of us this represents a high percentage of our traffic when we look at Google Analytics.
  • Paid Traffic – This is where most businesses run to if they have a marketing budget. You can rank right away from the keywords you like by placing advertisements with Google Adwords.
  • Referral Traffic – This is traffic that comes from other sites. Other people talk about you or you write a guest post on another blog that has decent traffic.
  • Social Traffic – This traffic comes from others sharing your stuff on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, etc.
  • Direct Traffic – To me, this is the ultimate traffic. This is the traffic that can never be taken away from you (more on this in a moment). Either your domain is TOMA (top of the mind awareness) or they come to your blog from an email you sent (since they are an email subscriber).

Where to Place Your Focus (Things You Can Control)

As mentioned earlier, the best advice I can give is to focus on areas you can control. Here are 4 areas you can control and nobody can take this away from you (not even Google):

1. Write awesome content people can’t help but share.

Give out your best stuff. Hold nothing back. Be known as the blogger that out-teaches the competition. When you do this on a consistent basis, people start to notice. They will share, like, follow, and tweet your stuff to others. This is how you get the social traffic mojo happening.

2. Go where your tribe is hanging out and create value.

I have always been a big believer in this strategy. Where is your tribe currently hanging out? Is there a forum, paid membership site, or blog where your ideal customer is currently hanging out? Go there, join the community and add as much value as you can.

We used this strategy with Blogging Your Passion. BYP was just a group on another forum before it became a blog. In fact, we had over 300 members, 120 email subscribers, and 86 RSS subscribers before we published our first blog post.

I went to where my tribe was hanging out. I spent over a year answering questions, creating videos, and sharing resources while making nothing in return. Where is your tribe hanging out? Go find them and serve them.

3. Be known for creating products people love.

You can also control the value and quality of the products you create. They don’t have to be perfect, but they do have to add value. When you begin doing this well, other bloggers will talk about you. This helps to create even more buzz and traffic to your blog.

4. Be aggressive about catching email subscribers.

This is where the rubber meets the road. As I have mentioned before on this blog, there are two things that no one (not even Google) can take from you: your reputation and your email list. Although it doesn’t appear that I was affected by the latest changes, I’m sure my day is coming at some point.

This is why I am placing more attention on building email subscribers on all of my blogs. I can pick up and move my tribe if I really need to. With an email list, you can start over without starting from the very beginning. Besides, it is wise for you to diversify your traffic.

I am currently looking at the traffic pie graph in my Google Analytics and figuring out how I can balance all of the various traffic sources moving forward. This might be a good idea for you as well.

Final Thoughts

I realize that for those who have been affected you were hoping for more technical answers. Maybe you were looking for the one thing you can change to make all of that traffic come back. Again, this post is more about an overarching strategy and philosophy rather than a technical to do list.

In the end, I think you are better off thinking like a CEO of your blog than a Webmaster.

Questions: Were you affected by the latest Google updates? What changes are you making?

    Jonathan has been blogging since 2009 and is still in awe that the Creator of the Universe desires to have a relationship with him. His passions include spending time with his kids, reading, March Madness, surprise get-a-way trips with his wife, and watching funny YouTube videos.

    • http://www.superworkingmum.com/ Aloted Omoba

      i think i was affecting cuz my traffic dropped…however your post made sense..i will focus on what I can control. thanks for this

      • Jonathan Milligan

        You are welcome Aloted.

    • Peter

      what is consider bad backlinks?

      • Jonathan Milligan

        links pointing to your site from spammy sites or sites that are not taken well care of.

    • http://www.happy-healthy-successful.com/ Elena Lee

      Hello Jonathan. Thank you for your insightful article! You are absolutely right about everything you said. Hard work will always pay off one day and bloggers can’t rely on only one source of traffic when it comes to building long term business.
      It has been really inspiring reading your article and I will definitely try to follow your advice and focus more on building a bigger list of subscribers and producing more great content. Thank you for sharing your so valuable information with us. I love your blog and keep learning more and more from it.

      • Jonathan Milligan

        Hi Elena, running an online business is no different than any other entrepreneurial adventure. There will be challenges, setbacks, discouragements, but also excitement, growth, and profits.

    • Jonathan Milligan

      This is inspiring! Your story proves that we must lead with passion for what we are doing, choose to do the hard stuff, and be willing to not give up. Great work Duke.

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Thanks, I would agree with you in all ways. Google will catch up to us but it all comes down to what we have to offer. it’s just the way it is. BTW: Most of my traffic is referral and direct and has been for a very long time so maybe I should count myself as lucky. 🙂

      • Jonathan Milligan

        That’s great Susan. Diversification of traffic is so important. It has been easy the past few years to get lazy with traffic from Google.

    • MichaelDeRosa

      Great article, Jonathan! Thanks for writing it