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This 124 message thread spans 5 pages: < < 124 ( 1 2 [3] 4 5 > >     
Is It Realistic To Base A Business Around Free SERPs?
blaze




msg:3056545
 12:40 am on Aug 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

Pretty much what the title says.

On one hand, you can never be sure your website isn't going to get booted by the SERPs. On the other hand, Google is almost necessary to get any significant traffic.

Is the compromise that you have to split up your website into many to ensure that you don't lose traffic? Or do you try to build a business that doesn't depend on Google SERPs?

 

gregbo




msg:3058109
 1:15 am on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think any business (on or offline) needs to convert its initial customers into regular customers, and use those customers to bring in new customers. A business that relies on a single "referral" source is very vulnerable.

iblaine




msg:3058117
 1:27 am on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

Amazon brings up a good point. There's a fine line between a site that rely's solely on organic traffic and an application. At some point, you get so large, it's no longer about gaming search engines but about an application that exists online and gives value to your customers. Tripadvisor is probably a good example that almost fits this idea of a business built upon SERPs. But tripadvisor is ridiculously complex and more like an application than a website.

Bennie




msg:3058134
 1:38 am on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

WOW - Some of these responses are really quite revealing!

My mum and dad have lived off 'free serps' and 'based a business off free serps' for over 11 (almost 12) years. My Dad built the first site in his niche. It's hardly a risk if you KNOW what you are doing, the risks associated and have BACK UP plans (clients to fall back on etc.)!

Luck and timing are always crucial and both really need to be factored in to any 'free serp business model'. Build a site no-one can ignore.

If you can build a lot of sites in the same niche, you are really building a strong business model. Zero sum game and all, the more of the pie you own the less your risks.

trinorthlighting




msg:3058139
 1:50 am on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

All businesses should be prepared for the worse. Even though we do not use adwords because we have good serps, we still have money set aside just in case something extreme happens.

KenB




msg:3058153
 2:20 am on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

I've been doing it for five years
Ups
and
Downs!

I've been doing this since 1995 and my site saw a steady climb in traffic until July 27, 2006. It was the first time I had a major drop in SERPs.
> Is It Realistic To Base A Business Around Free SERPs?
It is a fundamentally flawed business model!
1. No diversification
2. Dependent on the whims of a company
3. Very volatile
A business is like any other investment. Ask your broker if he's ever put a majority of your eggs into an ultra consolidated and volatile stock!

So commercial fishing and farming are also fundamentally flawed business models? As has been pointed out several times almost all business models have very serious risks. If one doesn't like risks, they should be an employee and work for someone else. If one wants to work for themselves and is willing to take risks they should go into business for themselves. All business models entail substantial risks, it is about managing that risk and realizing big risks can have big rewards and rarely does one really get ahead working for someone else.

trinorthlighting




msg:3058164
 2:34 am on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

Kenb,

Interesting point, but farming and fishing have protection mechanisms such as federal aid and insurance. Websites do not have that type of protection.

That could be an interesting new business. Website insurance...

powerstar




msg:3058172
 2:42 am on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

"""Basing a business on free serps can be very lucrative as your expenses can be close to zero. As previously stated, as long as you don't have high fixed costs such as permanent employees with salaries that depend on variable income sources (subject to the whims of the search engine algos)""""

How is it a business if you don't have employees or expenses? This is a description of an hobby site or some extra income site not a business.

I wouldn't even consider the free traffic as part of any business consideration and or calculation

Animated




msg:3058181
 3:00 am on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

some dont have a big source to spend money on PPC or their products are against google's PPC rules, so this types depend mostly on free SERP's positions and as long as the business expenses arent to high it can be done, and for an e commerce site another factor can be repeated costumers who you know will come back and give you the steady income you need.

europeforvisitors




msg:3058182
 3:00 am on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

How is it a business if you don't have employees or expenses? This is a description of an hobby site or some extra income site not a business.

Whether a site is a "business" or a "hobby" is determined by its earnings, not its expenses, and there are plenty of mom-and/or-pop businesses that have owners but no employees.

I wouldn't even consider the free traffic as part of any business consideration and or calculation

To each his own. There's no shortage of Web businesses (including megasites) that profit quite nicely from organic search.

BigDave




msg:3058185
 3:03 am on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

How is it a business if you don't have employees or expenses? This is a description of an hobby site or some extra income site not a business.

Just about every government in the would would disagree with you.

In my mind, any ability to reduce expenses or excess employees is smart business. Employees and expenses are sometimes required in business, but that does not define it as a business. Having employees defines you as an employer, not a business.

My aunt has a housekeeper and a gardener. She is not a business.

My friend sells her art on the web. She has no employees, and minimal expenses. She has a DBA, a trademark and a business bank account. She pays sales tax when a sale is made in state. She is running a business and probably makes more than your average store in the mall with employees.

You can have your own sef-agrandizing definition of "business" but you best not expect the world to agree.

KenB




msg:3058188
 3:06 am on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

Kenb,

Interesting point, but farming and fishing have protection mechanisms such as federal aid and insurance. Websites do not have that type of protection.


Not as much as you think, especially when it comes to commercial fishing.

After the Exxon Valedez oil spill in Alaska many fishermen when bankrupt because of the collapse of the fishery they depended upon. There was no magical bailout. Small farmers go bankrupt on a regular basis here in the U.S. due to failed crops or a bad couple of years.

oldpro




msg:3058189
 3:11 am on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

It is realistic to base an online business solely on organcic serps, but it is unrealistic to think a business will maximize revenues, opportunities and profits with this model. The primary objective of a sucessful business person is the goal is the ability to control variables within set parameters. If an online business derives 75% to 100% of its revenue stream online, then CPC and PCP provides predictable traffic and sales.

In the only organic scenaro, one flip of a switch or turn of a knob will pull the rug out from true online business...sales plummet. Big G does some more tinkering a month later and sales are back up. Permanent listings on the big three smooth out these bumps in the road.

Additionally, I recently read a white paper study with the findings that 46% of searchers click on the ads above the fold. Going totally organic is simply conceding a huge chuck of the market share to your competitors.

europeforvisitors




msg:3058288
 5:35 am on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

If an online business derives 75% to 100% of its revenue stream online, then CPC and PCP provides predictable traffic and sales.

Sounds good if you're selling widgets or services, but I don't know of many media/information sites that do significant advertising. The ROI just isn't there in most cases.

Fortunately for information/media sites, the qualities that make them attractive to advertisers tend to be the same qualities that make them attractive to search engines (i.e., providing useful content for readers).

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:3058426
 8:54 am on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

How is it a business if you don't have employees or expenses? This is a description of an hobby site or some extra income site not a business.

I have been doing this full time for five years. It is my full time occupation. I have no employees and only low expenses but believe me, it is a business not a hobby!

What would you call what I and many others are doing if it is not a business?

loner




msg:3058514
 11:00 am on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

I've been relying on free SERPs to live for 11 years. Sure, it would be hard to get a loan on my model, but I don't care. No matter what, I'm immensely happier working my 10-20 hours a week on what I like to do rather than for the gray-souless drones I used to work for and have far more security.

petehall




msg:3058547
 11:44 am on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

unless my memory is failing me, Amazon spent a gi-normous amount off money advertising , especially off line traditional media

So their business wasn't based primarily around free SERPs then?

Would be interesting to see how well they'd have done without it!

I read an article which stated their success was down to early URL re-writing making them 'spider friendly' before anyone else.

hdpt00




msg:3058566
 12:16 pm on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

europeforadsenseclicks:
Whether a site is a "business" or a "hobby" is determined by its earnings, not its expenses

WRONG! It is determined by the amount of time put in. Someone may take his life earnings to Vegas and put it on black and win, is that his business since he made a lot?

Look up the definition of hobby, probably has to do with something you enjoy doing in your spare time.

Was Amazon.com a hobby at first since it was losing money?

vite_rts




msg:3058572
 12:22 pm on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

Speaking off Amazon success is very difficult,,,, Why

On turnover of Billions, they barely make a profit after expenses

There is a load off crap on the internet, if you wanna know how Amazon are doing , go look at their accounts

eyeinthesky




msg:3058573
 12:24 pm on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm surprised to read some many people relying on free SE traffic here. I used to and then got hit it a change in algo in G.

Then I went into PPC and thought that was the perfect business model. But G again out a stop to this and traffic plunged - they don't even want my money?

So I think the best solution is non-SE traffic. Difficult yes, but not impossible to achieve.

Real "organic" traffic that grows virally...

vite_rts




msg:3058575
 12:29 pm on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

By the way, all you guys who where making a living on Free serps

11 yrs ago,

Thats Circa 1995, before google,,, Yahoo was an interesting name to call a company, ,,

AOL was master of the known,,, internet

And I , well, i only saw the internet on 10 pm news :-)

oldpro




msg:3058591
 12:48 pm on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

Sounds good if you're selling widgets or services

we do sell widgets online.

an online business that provides information and advertising space would be more dependent upon free exposure. to buy advertising on the web to sell advertising on the web is almost a zero sum game in most cases.

cvcomp




msg:3058632
 1:28 pm on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

You should be reframing this question to:

'Is It Realistic To Base A Business Around Search Engine Traffic?'

From someone who does a lot of SEO (for my own sites and clients), here's the bottom line:

The real goal of any business is to build a solid brand that's burned into skull of their customers. This is why SEO is so much more important for small/medium companies - they have no brand.

I'll give you an example. If someone is looking for a Ford SUV, they don't go to Google and search for 'SUV', they just go straight to the ford website.

That's basically why car companies don't give a crap about SEO - they have a brand. Likewise if you're searching for info on an Apple iPod - you'd just go straight to the Apple website.

Your end goal should be to have customers think of widgets and then go straight to your website.

SEO is good while you're trying to build your brand.

Another thing you should consider is the conversion rate of the keywords you want to rank high on.

I often see people sweat for 12 months over getting ranked high for some generic keyword, only to get there and find out that it doesn't convert well.

Another reason why it makes sense to test your keywords with PPC even before you consider any SEO.

p5gal5




msg:3058649
 1:38 pm on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

A very interesting article about this very topic placed on CNN Money last night -

"How Google can make - or break - your company"
[money.cnn.com...]

iamlost




msg:3059074
 5:35 pm on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

YES you can...NO you can not...CAN...CAN'T...

The answer is some of us can and do make a living from a 'business based around free SERPS'. That was the question and just because some don't like our answer does not make it untrue. Some of us even make a living ignoring Google. ;-)

It does not limit our business model to free SERPs - read my previous post - it just means free SERPs are a basic part of it. It does not mean that it is viable for everyone or every situation, just that it is for us doing it our ways.

And I suspect from reading these posts that my 'free SERP' compatriots each follow differing business models. There is no 'one' secret sauce.

gregbo




msg:3059393
 9:42 pm on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'll give you an example. If someone is looking for a Ford SUV, they don't go to Google and search for 'SUV', they just go straight to the ford website.

That's basically why car companies don't give a crap about SEO - they have a brand. Likewise if you're searching for info on an Apple iPod - you'd just go straight to the Apple website.

Actually, there are studies that show people are doing exactly that (going to Google). Here in the US, there is even a Pontiac commercial that tells its users to google Pontiac.

vite_rts




msg:3059517
 11:11 pm on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

Every time i ask a mixed bag of non techie people about how they use the internet, the results are worrying for a newcomer like me to the internet business party.

1, They invariable head straight for the best know site for what they want, an this almost always mean bricks an mortar business with online presence, newpapers an other publications, or Amazon an other estabished internet brands

2, They only use search engines when they're looking for something for the first time or didn't find what they wanted from the guys in 1 above,

branding,,,,

powerstar




msg:3059542
 11:26 pm on Aug 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

To each his own. There's no shortage of Web businesses (including megasites) that profit quite nicely from organic search.

100% online business and we do quite a bit of organic traffic but to build your "business" on free traffic i think is crazy but then again this is only my opinion.

I have been doing this full time for five years. It is my full time occupation. I have no employees and only low expenses but believe me, it is a business not a hobby!

What would you call what I and many others are doing if it is not a business?

Sure it is a business but i still think the same rule apply you still should not count on free traffic only.

europeforvisitors




msg:3059606
 12:28 am on Aug 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

100% online business and we do quite a bit of organic traffic but to build your "business" on free traffic i think is crazy but then again this is only my opinion.

Again, it depends on the type of business, but for some businesses (such as ad-supported media/information sites), PPC just isn't a necessity. (It may not even be a practical option on a day-to-day basis, though it could be used in a pinch.)

On the other hand, "free traffic" doesn't have to mean what some people interpret it as meaning: exclusive reliance on first-time (often one-time) users arriving from SERPs. "Free traffic" can encompass search referrals, clicks on links at third-party sites, internal referrals, traffic from bookmarks, and type-in traffic (often by repeat visitors). If you can establish a brand within your niche, whether you're selling underwear for dogs or publishing articles for Harley-Davidson owners, you'll have a chance to become less dependent on search referrals and PPC advertising.

cvcomp




msg:3059675
 1:48 am on Aug 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

Let's break it down to the basics:

How smart is it to base your entire business model around a marketing strategy (free search) that can (and does) flip on it's head at any moment and essentially leave you without a business.

End of thread.

powerstar




msg:3059676
 1:51 am on Aug 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

(It may not even be a practical option on a day-to-day basis, though it could be used in a pinch.)

So what do you do when you fail down or out of the search results? you are just out of business. it might be working but its not a sound business practice. It might work on a one person operation but not growing or building a business

ken_b




msg:3059707
 2:13 am on Aug 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

Websites relying on the free serps don't just exist in a vacuum where free serps are the only traffic source.

Just try building a quality site that somehow manages to rank on page one with no inbound links.

If you can pull that off, then be sure to keep it free of any of those annoying unsolicited one way inbound links.

Like I said, we aren't working in a vacuum.

The point is that even if the free serps ranking is all a webmaster focuses on it's not likely to be the only source of traffic for a site, and it may not be the most durable source.

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