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Making your business SE proof
Makaveli2007




msg:3880169
 3:38 pm on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

These are my two favorite ideas for making your online business SE proof:

1. Build links that actually send traffic. Referral traffic will still be flowing through those links, once Google has decided to shift their focus from links on user data, or whatever other factor they can possibly use.

2. Obsess over conversion rate & LTV of a customer. If you have a site that converts highly and allows you to get a high LTV out of your visitors, you don't have to focus on getting traffic so much. If you can pull that off, it'll make getting traffic a lot easier, because you can now invest money in many PPC keywords that are now profitable, but woudlnt be profitable if your site had a low to average conversion rate/LTV per customer (Of course this is true for any other form of buying traffic that might arise in the future).

Unfortunately those ideas are mostly technical so far and I havent been able to put them into practice as much as I'd like, yet ;-).

Has anyone been doing those things?

Is anyone trying to build a lasting online business that relies on getting 80% of it's traffic from Google?

 

ambellina




msg:3880216
 4:20 pm on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

Well, I didn't intend for the site to rely on getting that much traffic from Google, but it happened :)

The main thing we're trying to do is retain current customers. Hopefully some of that Google traffic is really word of mouth from happy customers telling a pal, "Oh hey, you need to Google this shop."

I'm also trying out a shop Myspace as a method of convenient, constant communication with our customer base. I'm iffy about this so far. I think it might work great with some niches, but mine doesn't seem to be one of them. Perhaps I just need more time with it?

*edit* to clarify, when I say "shop Myspace" I mean a Myspace profile setup to represent and display news about our existing online store, not a separate Myspace-based store.

esllou




msg:3880300
 7:03 pm on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

another tiny footnote to the initial discussion. We ask our customers how they found us and even they think they came from google when it's patently clear they did not. Two examples from yesterday.

1. "On Google Search Engine"...no, you came through MSN actually.
2. "clicked Goolge ad on another site". No, you clicked a normal link to us on a page that doesn't even have adsense.

back on topic, we have optimised our site intensely over the last three weeks and we now convert two and a half times the traffic we did before. A lot of that is actually due to google's website optimiser and a lot of split testing, so we're happy.

Makaveli2007




msg:3880337
 7:43 pm on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

improved conversion rate by 150%? Nice! That's what I'm talking about. Say your website dissappeared from the organic rankings (hopefully not ;)), you'd have other opportunities: you could get traffic from a lot more PPC keywords than you could have before (because now a lot more keywords are profitable).

Webwork




msg:3880351
 8:04 pm on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

Isn't this what real value reciprocal linking is supposed to accomplish? The adventure travel company that freely links to the outdoor outfitter's website and, perhaps, vis-a-vis? The outdoor outfitter who links to the merchant who sells a line of rugged luggage?

Didn't the movie "Miracle on 34th Street" - where Macy's Santa starts sending parents who's kids want a particular toy to Gimbel's since Macy's doesn't carry that toy - presage the concept of mutual benefit promotions or linking?

Makaveli2007




msg:3880374
 8:39 pm on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hi Webwork,

I was browsing old link building advice on WebmasterWorld today..and the only new thing (that I hadnt really paid much thought to before) I came across was somebody (maybe that was you?) saying something along these lines:

You sell forks. That guy on the other side of the street sells spoons. (thus cooperate, etc.)

Of course, I had heard of the possibility of joint ventures before - but since I've been in online marketing (a mere 2,5 years now), I've never heard anybody mention such joint venture possibilites as an effective method to gain traffic.

I mean people seem to consider it an exotic way of getting traffic, when I talk about the possibility of getting links that actually send referral traffic!;-)

Does this joint venture stuff still work on today's internet? Why are so few people doing it? Is it because that approach can only be leveraged if your business model fits it? or is it simply not that effective these days...?

Webwork




msg:3880386
 9:24 pm on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

Makaveli2007, perhaps we'll be blessed by the appearance of a few expert link developers in this thread . .

I wouldn't contextualize the idea as a "joint venture". I prefer to think in terms of mutual advantage, mutual benefit or synergistic linking. These would be links that enhance the visitor's experience or the benefits visitor derives benefit from visiting SiteA and SiteB. It would be the type of relationship that would be calculated to bring the visitor back to both sites, i.e., bookmarking both.

I'm not a link development expert, so perhaps I shouldn't "pass judgment", but FWIW some of the most sanguine guidance/advice I've read on the topic of "unpaid" link development has focused on a) personalized link seeking/exchange emails; b) explaining why there may/will be a benefit for both parties; c) perhaps indicating that you have already linked to their site; and, not forgetting the "call to action", which I might call d) asking if they would consider linking back to your site on a specific page on their site and leaving the wording of the link to them.

I'm sure there are folks very well qualified to either thump me on the head or to validate whether such an approach works.

The other "best advice" I've seen is "if and when" you consider engaging the social media world make it a point to add value to the discussion before dropping a link. Surprising how often that rule is ignored. I can understand bots but people who act like link dropping bots are just lazy, stupid or incompetent. When such people drop links you already know the quality of the website their "no value added" linking will take you to. I've learned my lesson and no longer even bother to look out of curiosity. No value added comments, with links, invariably lead to no value added websites. You get that? ;) Don't do it!

[edited by: Webwork at 9:44 pm (utc) on Mar. 27, 2009]

Makaveli2007




msg:3880435
 11:13 pm on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

thanks for the input..those things you mention actually are all things that I'm aware of, already...it just seems that, nowadays nobody is getting links for the actual traffic they bring, but only for SE rankings!

Whenever I bring up the idea of getting links for referral traffic, I feel like people look at me like I'm some kind of alien (because right now, the SE benefit from links is bigger than the actual traffic they bring)

xalex




msg:3880556
 3:59 am on Mar 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

Great thread. But how do you diversify when 60% of traffic comes from Google one way or another directly.

Most of us have a flawed business model if Google fails.

60% traffic from Google

15% from other search
10% from bookmark (how many because they googled earlier?)
15% from other referrals (who also depends primarily on google one way or another)

So what are our options?

willybfriendly




msg:3880558
 4:23 am on Mar 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

Great thread. But how do you diversify when 60% of traffic comes from Google one way or another directly.

Depends on the business, of course.

We are associated with one site that uses an affiliate program to generate traffic, and a relatively high percentage of traffic comes through the efforts of the affiliates.

And, while print to click is not a high converter, a bit of print here and there can go a long ways - particularly if its "free" print, as in press releases or human interest type stories.

We ran a successful campaign by providing free product to a niche publication that they used in thier own re-subscribe campaign. So, they hit their subscribers with, "First 1000 to renew their subscription get a free widget." We got our widget out there, cheap press and a sustained increase in our customer base and sales.

On the other hand, some stuff that seems like it would work might not. We provided "gifts" for the studio audience of "The View" one time. The immediate increase in sales was hardly measurable, and tapered off quickly. Obviously not our demographic :( (luckily only a cost of a few thousand $$).

We have run successful, targeted discount campaigns using forums. For instance, we offered a 20% discount for a product of interest to US Troops in Iraq/Afghanistan (shipped to an APO address) and promoted it by contacting forum admins for the many sites out there catering to the interests of the troop's families (NOTE: Don't just spam the forums with ads!) Virtually all of the forum admins allowed a thread simply for the asking, but would have been incensed if we had spammed and then asked.

Similarly, niche specific blogs can provide good traffic, but it might cost you a sample or two for them to review.

I would say that if you don't have enough margin built in for a marketing budget, then your long term chances of success are marginal at best.

buckworks




msg:3880569
 4:51 am on Mar 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

It's easy to say, "Keep working on the things that help to grow our traffic that comes from other sources besides Google."

However, ironically, the very things that would accomplish that often help to please Google all the more. So, percentage-wise, Google continues to be responsible for a large share of our traffic even if we're getting more visitors than ever from non-Google sources. The basic problem persists.

It's a very large rug to have pulled out from under us if something changes, but most of us are happy to ride on Google's magic carpet while we can. We need to understand the risks, though.

I don't have any answers for the conundrum, other than to ponder how my business would cope if I suddenly lost my Google traffic. Not fun to think about!

oodlum




msg:3880577
 5:32 am on Mar 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

I know it's a cardinal sin to rely on free Google traffic so when I launched my biggest venture I spent a lot of money trying to diversify. Most of it went straight down the drain and in the end I decided SEO is my strength and I should be happy to focus on it.

Search engines account for around 60% of my traffic but it's encouraging to see that my top keyword by far is my brand name (which is becoming familiar in turn thanks to G), followed by the big industry keywords (the most vulnerable, IMO) and a very long tail.

One area I need to put more work into is building good traffic-sending links. I also plan to launch an affiliate program in the near future, but I was once employed to find affiliates for another site and is was pretty difficult.

topr8




msg:3880585
 6:07 am on Mar 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

>>I know it's a cardinal sin to rely on free Google traffic

:) well i know you wrote that a little tongue in cheek, but it isn't a cardinal sin to rely on free google traffic if you can get it.

things charge in unpredictable ways and when they do you must adapt quickly, so for now if you are riding the google wave make the most of it but be ready for how things develop in the future.

Jane_Doe




msg:3880601
 7:16 am on Mar 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

So what are our options?

Lots of unconnected sites.

Makaveli2007




msg:3880666
 1:13 pm on Mar 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

Lots of unconnected sites.

Hehe I like this one! and i totally agree. However that can only save you from a bogus google (handreviewer) mood, etc. ...not if the algo changes ;-(

maximillianos




msg:3880671
 1:24 pm on Mar 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

I don't have any answers for the conundrum, other than to ponder how my business would cope if I suddenly lost my Google traffic. Not fun to think about!

I think sometimes we don't realize that the huge dependency on G is not really related to G specifically, but to search in general. The only reason the majority of traffic for most of us comes from G is because they are the market leader at nearly 70% (or whatever it is now a days).

So I think we should re-clarify that the real dependency is on "search engine traffic", not specifically Google. Because if Google was gone, we'd just be getting that traffic from Yahoo, or Microsoft, or where ever folks went to search...

Just a peeve of mine... ;-)

Makaveli2007




msg:3880674
 1:32 pm on Mar 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

It's easy to say, "Keep working on the things that help to grow our traffic that comes from other sources besides Google."
However, ironically, the very things that would accomplish that often help to please Google all the more. So, percentage-wise, Google continues to be responsible for a large share of our traffic even if we're getting more visitors than ever from non-Google sources. The basic problem persists.

I understand exactly what you mean. It's kind of funny how links that send you more traffic, automatically send you more link authority, too (because pagerank and the traffic that's passed on is divided by the number of links on the page, it depends on the authority of the site, etc.).

However, many SEOs I know are still going for links with the main priority of boosting rankings. And even though the two are very related (rankings and link traffic), I'm making a point to forget about any links that, I think would help me boost my SE rankings, but that won't send me any referral traffic..and prioritize those that send referral traffic - which as you mentioned automatically help you with rankings anyway (of course, I take care of anchor text, etc., too you get the idea). I think there still are many linking opportunities out there that do nothing for s ending you relevant referral traffic, but can boost your rankings.

Also, I think many people are obsessing over getting traffic..sort ofi nv esting 80% of their resources in acquiring traffic (okay this might be different on an e-commerce forum like this!), and then try to monetize through Ads. Google's Ads.

Whereas if you have a site that can squeeze a lot of money out of each actual visitor, youre less dependent on free-traffic..because it makes PPC profitable...increasing conversions and LTV, is basically optimizing for PPC, too, in a way (because a lot of keywords that aren't profitable for an average/bad site monetization-wise...are profitable for one that is great at monetizing).

Makaveli2007




msg:3880687
 2:10 pm on Mar 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

@maxamillions: I totally agree with you - not trying to be a wiseguy (just saying ;)) - but that's why I called the thread "Making your business SE proof" (SE = search engine)

However, most of your SE traffic coming from Google doesn't help improve the situation ;-(.

[edited by: Makaveli2007 at 2:11 pm (utc) on Mar. 28, 2009]

rachel123




msg:3880730
 3:41 pm on Mar 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

I don't actively link-build just for the heck of it; site has been around a long time and has a huge web of links to it already. Highest pagerank in my niche - which makes me the target of many messages soliciting links. Here's a clue - if you want a link from me - Don't tell me what text to put in the link. Don't hold it over my head that you linked to me and will take it down if I don't return the favor. Do invite me to check out your site to see if I think that a link to it will add value to my site. And for heaven's sake, don't give me a line of bs about how a link exchange with you will do wonders for me with Search. If it's blatantly obvious that you are just looking to get ahead in search, if I do link to you, it will most likely be no-followed, or on a non-indexed page. I like to think that you like my site, not my link juice. ;)

A lot of my traffic does come from the big G. Honestly, I'm OK with that. People don't 'surf' the internet like they used to back in the day, and I'm not sure that day will ever return. The People use search to find things. Therefore, I will target a significant share of my marketing efforts to search, and brainpower to keeping up with the algorithms. That is where the people are.

A successful, long-running internet business has always been about the ability to adapt, and not leaving money on the table.

Build your site so that it is something that people are looking for. Independent of algorithm changes, G's whole business model is helping people find what they are looking for.

Makaveli2007




msg:3880766
 5:12 pm on Mar 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

Therefore, I will target a significant share of my marketing efforts to search, and brainpower to keeping up with the algorithms.

Build your site so that it is something that people are looking for. Independent of algorithm changes, G's whole business model is helping people find what they are looking for.

I totally agree with those two :-).

A successful, long-running internet business has always been about the ability to adapt, and not leaving money on the table.

However, I can't really agree with this one. Let's not forget the www has only been around for...16 years now?

Jane_Doe




msg:3880772
 5:26 pm on Mar 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hehe I like this one! and i totally agree. However that can only save you from a bogus google (handreviewer) mood, etc. ...not if the algo changes

When the algo changes some of my sites go up, some go down, but it often evens out.

Brett had this advice years ago and it is still pretty good -

"Long term SEO rocks on the net today because those that survived the purges, survived because of one simple premise: diversification. Build pages big, small, in between, high density, low density, multiple small domains, single big domains, lots a links, no links, deep content, shallow content, but content, content, content. Keep those users come back for more. Make the search engines your unwritten partners - even when you feel they let you down. Give the visitor what they want, when they come from an SE to your site. "

[webmasterworld.com...]

I'm not saying non-Google traffic isn't good, but it is hard to bring in the kind of traffic from other sources.

Writing articles is helpful for nonSE traffic, but they have to be good articles that high traffic sites or newsletters will use, not just articles that languish on nonranking article directory pages.

rachel123




msg:3880824
 7:10 pm on Mar 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

Let's not forget the www has only been around for...16 years now?

LOL, touche. From my perspective it's been here forever - my site is going on it's 12th year, and without giving myself away as a young punk...16 years is over half of my lifetime. ;)

Makaveli2007




msg:3881184
 3:24 pm on Mar 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

lol @ touché..I know it feels like forever (Im only 25 and can hardly remember how life was without it), but I guess in the future everything might be less about adapting quickly, etc. than it has been.

For example when I started learning about SEO 2,5 years ago people told me Id have to read 10 blogs and visit 20 forums regularly, to be able to keep up with SEO. However, I could probably optimize sites using nothing but using a well-known seo e-book i bought 2.5 years ago. SEO has changed very little since then (but then again maybe in 5 years it'll be a completely different ballgame again).

nealrodriguez




msg:3881675
 2:26 pm on Mar 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

point blank, network, network network! it may sound cliche; but the more you work with other sites in your vertical - guest posting, interviews, link bait on social media, etc. - the less you will be dependent on google traffic. i have seen sites with millions of monthly page views receive less than 25% of their traffic from google. you are correct to try to have traffic driven from more than one place. google and other search engines aren't being used as often as before; on my part, i can honestly say that the use of social media definitely hacks away @ the time i used to spend on google - although google still has a lot of power that social media doesn't; but now social media allows me to chat with experts instead of reading their peer's archived documents on google

are search engines declining in importance? this argument was posed in a book i cited on the following thread:

[webmasterworld.com...]

Makaveli2007




msg:3881778
 4:55 pm on Mar 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

When you say youve seen websites with millions of monthly page views receive less than 25% of their traffic from Google, do you mean less than 25% of their *page views*? Or less than 25 of their traffic?

I'd love to ask lots of other question on this ;-), but in order to keep it as brief as possible, I'll ask it this way:

1. Were those websites of major brands?
2. How many % of their NEW traffic (not repeat visitors) came directly from links ("referral traffic")?

Im wondering this, because I think in order to measure traffic acquisition one shouldn't count repeat visitors (repeat visitors are the best thing in the world, but when it comes to traffic acquisition, I think they make the picture unclear)

Id really appreciate if you could answer those questions! thanks!

xalex




msg:3882048
 11:30 pm on Mar 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

I would like to add Makaveli2007

Is the site bottom or top in the industry in terms of popularity?

Its a different beast when you are top 5, top 10, or just another site

What we are facing is ceiling on our traffic & revenue, which is based on ceiling of how much google like us and ceiling on how many people uses google in our industry.

nealrodriguez




msg:3882086
 1:08 am on Mar 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'd love to ask lots of other question on this ;-), but in order to keep it as brief as possible, I'll ask it this way:

1. Were those websites of major brands?
2. How many % of their NEW traffic (not repeat visitors) came directly from links ("referral traffic")?

1. mainly major social media channels and blogs.
2. i'm not sure what was the exact percentage coming from direct traffic, but i remember they received more visits from referring sites - links.

enterprise sites with which i have worked more recently all have about 50% of their traffic coming from the search engines. which is what the original example was working towards by virtue of building brands instead of keywords.

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