With Penguin and Panda obliterating once-solid web rankings and chomping incomes to bits, many businesses don’t feel secure in their online marketing campaigns anymore. If you’re strictly an online business, this can be a very scary feeling. But even a business that pulls in revenue offline as well can worry about putting a bunch of money and effort into a campaign that might go belly-up any time Google decides to tweak the algorithms.

If you’re constantly watching for new updates and constantly changing strategies to reflect the latest theories about how Google ranks sites, it might be time to shift your focus and rethink the way you market online. There are plenty of ways to do that; here are just five.

What is Google doing now?

1. Give Google Exactly What it Wants

No, I’m not trying to insult your intelligence – we all know that Google’s exact recipe for sorting web rankings is a closely-guarded secret. But let’s dig a little deeper.

I think we can all agree that what Google wants is to deliver the top results to people making queries in the engines. Do spammy sites still sometimes beat out the high-quality ones? Sure they do, but let’s think long-term here. If you consistently create what Google wants to find, you’ve got a huge company with a lot of very smart people constantly trying to figure out a way to find YOU.

Doesn’t that sound like a more sensible long-term plan than constantly trying to trick them into doing something they don’t want?

2. Build a Loyal Audience

Too many marketers have gotten too focused on getting more exposure to their message, often with total disregard to the message or offering itself.

Sure, getting the word out is necessary, but if you build a community around your product or service and focus on building loyalty, people will stick with you no matter what the algorithms think about your site. And when the newest online platform comes along, they’ll talk about you there too.

3. Give People Something to Talk About

Part of building that audience is having a reason to be talked about and loved. Are you just another company pimping your wares online, or is there something special about you?

And the fact that people “should” be interested in what you’re doing means nothing; they have to WANT to to talk about you and share your message.

If you can figure out how achieve this, you’ve figured out social media marketing, which can provide a lot of traffic beyond Google when done right.

4. Buy Your Traffic

Long before the Internet existed, people were buying exposure for their advertising messages – paying people with access to eyeballs so they could be heard and seen where it counted. After the Internet came along, free traffic seemed like a godsend, but with the sheer headache involved in trying to get sites ranked these days, is it really the best way?

Paid traffic sources, like Google Adwords, solo ads, and banners on authority sites, typically require some investment to get started, but once you’ve figured out a strategy that works you may never need to look at the search engines again.

5. If It Feels Like Cheating, Don’t Do It

Sticking with the search engines anyways? That’s fine, and there is still plenty of money being made catering to their whims. But the best philosophy is to avoid, or at least minimize, any strategies that feel like “getting one over” on Google.

People will rant and rave all day about why Google can’t or won’t ever penalize certain methods, but they said these same things before Penguin and Panda and have been proved wrong before.

Remember Google’s long-term goals. If you’re not in support of those and are trying to trick the search engines, they’ll evolve enough to push you out of bounds sooner or later. Something to think about….