| This 157 message thread spans 6 pages: < < 157 ( 1 2 3 4  6 ) > > || |
|Our First Layoffs in 8 Years - google referrals are down 50-70%|
We have laid off three full time employees - our shipping department has been closing early - we have put 2 new server purchases on hold (oh, and i told the wife to keep driving that old car for another year)
We have been at this since 1998 and have ecomm sites with over 200,000 products - no affiliate, adsense, reciprocals, purchased links, local issues or black hat. We have 1,000's of natural inbound links. Repeat customers represent over 50% of our sales. 6 pageviews per visit (not bad for ecomm). We were never touched by any of the major updates (ie Florida etc.).
We have been absolutely bludgeoned in the last couple of months - google organic referrals are down 50-70% (depending on which hour you check). Most all of our losses have come from our long tail keywords.
Obviously this isn't just an everflux spike or a silly mistake some young engineer made. It's clear that google actually thinks that they have improved the index. With this in mind, I have started issuing the pink slips.
A sad day for me....
|It's just the "one algo for all" concept that needs to be revised, because as it turns out there is a different algo for Amazon and the likes. |
Is Amazon openly selling text links? Or running off-topic text links for Web hosting, credit-card offers, etc. at the top of its home page?
Also, isn't it possible that unrelated subdomains of, say, a Web-hosting service simply don't have as much clout with Google as they did a while back? And that articles of, say, 100-200 words are now being viewed with more skepticism than they were a year or two ago?
(The above comments aren't necessarily directed at any specific member, but they are relevant to one site that took a big hit in Google recently.)
in my opinion Google is filtering sites out when in doubt (links, spam content etc.).
Maybe this is the only way they can manage...the web has gotten very complicated and everyone is a "SEO" these days. All I know that, THANK GOD I am finishing school this year (PR 9 school too:)) At least I have a lot more options and the website will provide a nice side revenue--no matter how bad goog acts.
|Is Amazon openly selling text links? Or running off-topic text links for Web hosting, credit-card offers, etc. at the top of its home page? |
No, it's doing just dandy. Personally I don't see the point of attacking Wikipedia rankings either. If such sites do have a special status in the algo, then so be it. For me is't just SEO, let's discuss this outside of the conspiracy/anti-conspiracy framework.
|Also, isn't it possible that unrelated subdomains of, say, a Web-hosting service simply don't have as much clout with Google as they did a while back? And that articles of, say, 100-200 words are now being viewed with more skepticism than they were a year or two ago? |
(The above comments aren't necessarily directed at any specific member, but they are relevant to one site that took a big hit in Google recently.)
And I know exactly which site you mean :-)). Yes, the site you mean looks spammy, but in between all the ads you'll find some good content, unlike the page I mentioned that has only ads and links and one line of content, but ranks better than ever. That page is on a major encycolpedia (not wiki), which, by the way, seems to use a different kind of Adsense than us.
The thing is, in on the key-phrase in question the top4 got whacked and none of them were doing anything black hat. The former #1 (the webhosting subdomain) has short pages, I have long pages, there is no pattern.
I thought (maybe I'm wrong) that, as the result of months of comparing notes, we had gone past the point of thinking that the current happenings are a result of anti-spam filters and such.
Not only have I seen many clean sites that were penalized, but also many not so clean sites that continue to rank well. That's why I think ANY site can be hit nowadays, regardless of links or content. But then again there may be an exception for the ultra big, which doesn't seem to be a matter of links. Someone on this forum said he is getting 300 natural links a day - I'd say that's pretty hefty - but is penalized.
By the way, I noticed your homepage doesn't have Adsense.
[edited by: Martin40 at 5:29 pm (utc) on Mar. 18, 2007]
|By the way, I noticed your homepage doesn't have Adsense. |
Yes, but it often has in the past, and the presence or absence of AdSense ads on the home page hasn't had any discernible affect on rankings. (I took the ads off mostly because AdSense ad targeting on the home page hasn't always been reliable, and because I'd just as soon have people who arrive on the home page drill deeper into the site instead of clicking on an ad.)
I've been perusing the discussions about the missing search results and the 950 penalty and I can't come up with any consensus to what is happening.
We got whacked massively starting around March 6. I can look at the graph of web traffic and see a significant drop. We've been on the net as an ecommerce site since 1996 and sell physical items. We are not a directory or affiliate type site.
What we've experienced is pages that were in the top 10 are no longer in the top 1000. They are completely gone. Some pages are at the very end of the SERPs. Some pages are not affected at all. Some pages it is just the singular or plural search that is affected.
Has anyone noticed what the quality of the SERPs for your keywords / items are like? It seems to me that the quality has gone down. Where there were 10 quality results there are now informational and off-topic pages showing up mixed in with the quality sites.
I see absolutely no pattern.
I have noticed that Google seems to be chopping up the searched term into individual words and searching on these seperately. For example: big blue widgets = Big is searched for, blue is searched for and widgets is searched for. As a result pages that are not as accurate are showing up. For example: A page about big blue frogs with a link somewhere on the page for widgets. A search for: big blue frogs might find a completely different page. Anyone else see this?
Is there any way to let Google know about this crazy drop in SERPs? I would like them to verify one way or another what is happening. I would just like to know whether this is a fluke or a penalty of some sort or what. I don't want to mangle our website pages unnecessarily trying to fix this only to find that it wasn't a problem on our end and now that I mangled and changed the website I create a whole new set of problems.
And before anyone says "You shouldn't have to mangle your website to get good rankings" I am saying that somewhat cynically. Because, taking a look at the current top 10 websites for some keywords, in order for me to emulate them I would need to reduce the usablity of our site by putting tons of unreadable yet informative (to a search engine) text (text that should be on individual pages for each product) all on one page.
Of course, what good is a usable website if the the search engines prefer unusable copy over usable copy.
I should have nothing to complain about, I AM up there in the Google results, 2nd to be exact, for my main search term and pretty close for lots of others, same on MSN and Yahoo.
Only 20% of the traffic I had for the same positions 2 and 3 years ago and next to no buyers.
PPC? Been there done that. Used to be OK. Now I can't buy profitable trafic on 80% margins. Yep..8...0...% Not affiliate thin margins but big fat producer to end user margins.
I look at PPC and find I am competing with a few other suppliers and 4-10 Arb sites selling MSN clicks to Google or Google to Google or some other form of incest.
Google stock.....South Sea Bubble?.......
Sorry to hear of your decline, but it seems the people trying the hardest are being dropped in favor of really bad sites.
We try to report as many as possible, but what good does it do?
Those of use with legit businesses usually just keep plugging along with business as usual, while those without a real business, but a knack for persistance and an affiliate program to promote wind up at the top. One day we wake up and we've been overrun.
I hope this will all pass. I'd rather see my 2 or 3 worst competitors in the top 5 than a bunch of FREE give away affilaite sites trying to grab traffic soley for the adsense revenue.
The thing that gets me is that Google allows this to happen.
We just had a keyword loaded affiliate site, no content and three adsense panes per page overrun all my competitors in the organic results. However the junk site is giving away what we sell (although a cheesy version), so our sales are down too.
How does Google expect to raise revenue when we can't adwords generate income.
Or is it FORCING us to increase our spending?
|Or is it FORCING us to increase our spending? |
I've wondered that myself. Actually when we were running adwords campaigns the ROI was so bad we finally just said to heck with it.. and we weren't even running content match .. just in google.com itself. It was terrible. Spent thousands to make hundreds. Fraud? probably the main cause... so what does this really say about google traffic or the quality of traffic.
I didn't read this entire thread, due to its length... so please disregard if this has already been said... I do have one suggestion to make regarding your content/pages.
I was at Pubcon 2006 in Vegas last November. Google and Yahoo both talked about the problem product sites are having with pages getting dinged as "dup content".
The problem arises when you have 200,000 pages of products, but most the content on the page is a duplicate template/framework. When the difference between pages is very subtle (ie - a product image and product number, etc) search engines have a hard time figuring out if you are truely serving up unique content, or trying to game the system with tons of dup content.
Hope this helps!
"Or is it FORCING us to increase our spending?"
I believe that is the new google. It's ok with click fraud as long as they can get away with it. We also shut down our adwords our cost went from .10 to .60 inside 1 month.
I'm about ready to just ignore Google search results and adwords.
Postcards are about .30 each, cheaper then google adwords and goes right into customers mail box.
I just wanted to add my bit, probably been said before though!
Basically this post is about business, and it is far too obvious that people have distorted view of how "online" business works when you get into the situation of being anything other than a "one man band" as we say in the UK.
Businesses that succeed online (that are actually a business, employing people etc.) need to work to the same core principles of real business.
We all should know that, for example, a risky business is one that has a major customer that provides - say more than 20% of gross profit. Following on from that a risky business is one that obtains business from one source that makes up - say 20% of gross profit. the reason is obvious, the business can not guarantee revenue, profits and cash flow on a month by month basis and would therefore be in the category of risky.
But that is banking talk - we all know the reality is that business is risky anyway, how many business plans actually go exactly to plan!
But that in mind, to trade on the basis of revenue that is being generated from a source that isn't a core business partner and with contracts etc. is the recipe for the type of story that we seeing here.
The reality is that organic search traffic is NOT a source that you can base a business on without knowing the significant gamble you are taking especially if you employ people.
The "online" business model needs to be far more intelligent - return customers, mailing lists, retention, paid traffic, roi calcuations, affiliate schemes, link building, site diversification, business partners etc.
In effect it needs to be everything that offline business is - the best businesses don't have the best products, and that mirrors the way life actually works - social engineering i.e. doing deals for the benefit of generating sales, lowering costs and selling product or service. The way of generating traffic on the Internet through search engines is a technicality - and I mean that to really base a business on this you have to be an expert in SEO, link building, social networks etc. and be on the "darker" side of hats - and in that I mean you can lose every single ranking for no apparent reason which unfortunately only fast moving webmasters that push the envelope will be able to contend with to sustain a purely online business that requires a high percentage of new customers to make a profit.
I don't think it's right necessarily, it's just the way online businesses that need that amount of new customers using this "sales channel" will succeed and if you want to go down this avenue you had better learn a lot through places like this forum.
I want to make it clear that I am not having a go at the OP or indeed anyone that is faced with the stress and problems relating from losing traffic - it happened to me a few years ago, in my case I lost 10 members of staff which I personally take responsibility for and I would not want anyone to get into that situation at all.
I just wanted to supplement my post with a real life example.
If you open a retail store in a small town (like where I am from) - then you can not take it for granted that purely "traffic" from passers by will generate your sales - that is the "free traffic" concept that I liken to traffic from rankings in Google etc.
You need to have a strategy that goes beyond the "passing trade" business plan - because that is the bit you actually have control over.
You can control what advertising, promotions, business networks etc. you leverage to generate trade - you can control your products. You can then create a plan that is based on the old "if I spend #*$! and sell yyyy with a cost of zzzz I will make some trading profit and therefore pay fixed costs when I reach a certain level of sales and then go on to make profits at a certain threshold".
There is an equivalent on the Internet that I think is very easy to monitor compared to offline footfall calculations that traditional retailers have to deal with:
1. Spend #*$! on Google, MSN, Yahoo using keywords that relate to your indvidual products
2. Monitor the best converting keywords (use Analytics to do this)
3. Remove poor converting keywords
4. Develop your site (and products if necessary) to encourage repeat or "loyalty" type mentality
I have obviously simplified it a bit too much but that is a simple way if you sell products to be able to calculate ROI on marketing activity.
[edited by: Swanson at 8:18 pm (utc) on Mar. 21, 2007]
Brilliant post and you're absolutely right, but it's also inevitable that search engines create habits. Google was reliable for years and businesses followed naturally.
Question to you: what's your business plan in case a tsunami hits the UK?
Contrived example, but I do wonder: some big business sites that operate online exclusively continue to rank top, which must be more than 50% of their revenue. I wonder what their business plan is like. Surely they must have hotlines to the major search engines?
Just a follow up on my post:
Yesterday a FREE site was plopped in the middle of three competitors, all who participate in the Adwords program. The FREE site does not. I am at the #1 position, the FREE site (which was never anywhere near ths position before) is #2, one competitor as 3 and 4 (another dumb feature of Google, double consecutive listing for the same site, unless YOU are that site, right?) and another direct competitor at #5 position.
One look at my MUNIN apache access graph and I WAY down in traffic and sales are directly following. Where's my resume?
Google is shooting itself in the foot. I can't pay more for advertising if I can't make sales. And there's no way I'm going to second mortgage the house in a futile attempt to hold a position in the sponsored links. Everyone I talk to say they rarely click on the sponsored ads.
Does google's webmaster guideline mean anything at all?
Or are these just anomolies? small earthquakes before the big one!
Is it all about to turn upside down? (like last April)
Years back, I managed a physical store that was fortunate enough to have a city bus stop right by the front door. After a few years, that bus route was changed to run on the next street over, and the bus didn't even go past the store any more.
You see the parallel. Our business really had to scramble to stay alive after our "free" traffic dried up - and all along we thought we were just that good. Now we had to come up with serious retention marketing, new customer acquisition plans, etc., etc. And unfortunately, we did need to layoff some of the staff just to stay above water for a while.
There is also a parallel to being the only business of your kind in an area - and then competitors notice that you have a good thing going and they start to move in. Compared to 5-6 years ago, how many more websites are there online now?
And I'm sure that experence made you a much better marketer.
This is what seperates the men from the boys. The boy quit when their easy business model becomes hard, and the men overcame, learned and studied like crazy.
[edited by: Phil_S at 10:22 pm (utc) on Mar. 21, 2007]
Martin40, many thanks - flattery will get you everywhere :)
And that exchange of words totally illustrates the example I was trying to make!
To avoid the "tsunami" you need to "win friends and influence people" (bad quote) - and that to me means that for example every "off the shelf" deal that an adsense publisher gets, I get a better deal with more flexibility from a different supplier.
You can only do this I suppose if you do the following:
1. Recognise that online is much the same as offline - i.e. the same concept as your competitor buying source materials cheaper from a different supplier and selling at a higher price to a different market (extreme example but a good way to think about you selling the exact same thing but your competitors selling tons more and also making better margins)
2. Understand "Economies of Scale". This is economics 101 at A-Level in the UK (college). Bigger equals better - i.e. supermarkets pay less for their supplies because they get a bulk discount. This works in the Amazon (or ebay) example - bigger, more important websites get more licence to do what they want and do have a direct contact with Google because it is in Google's interest to have them in their index both organically and as an advertiser with adwords otherwise people could (in theory) bypass Google over time if they don't find them. That is the way scale works - and I hate to say it but I know it for 100% definite as I know a few people at both those companies (and many other big sites) and they have personal contact regarding their standing within the indexing side of the search engine.
Now with that in mind, of course it sucks (getting used to US sayings) - but we all know that is the way it works, it is all about embracing that and getting better deals with the other players that are hungry for your business.
I have thought about giving examples of what to do and/or who to use etc. as I would have killed for that info a few years ago - most good "diversified" online marketers would make more from sources other than Google.
Hope the generic stuff helps?!
And again...remember trinorthlighting post of revenue
20% Google Search
15% Ad words
10% Google/Froogle Base
10% Amazon Auctions
so "if" they were to make
$100,000 per month from google.
now add in Ebay at $125,000 per month
now add in Adwords at $70,000 per month
now add in Google/Froogle Base at $60,000 per month
now add in Amazon Auctions at $60,000 per month
now add in Yahoo at $70,000 per month
now add in MSN at $50,000 per month
Well...you get the picture.
And what about, newsletters, post card/mailers, mag ads etc.
Swanson, to complement your post please.
Although bigger is usually better in business, there are things that the small guy can do to level the playing field.
For instance, many large companies do not know as much about each of their products, as a small company that specializes in certain products.
Just as an example, a large grocery store may sell anti-cancer bean sprouts thrown somewhere in the organic produce department. Whereas the tiny health food store in the alley has 180 types of sprouts, each tested and rated as to their anti-cancer properties. Some customers will hunt down the health food store to purchase the ultra-mega-sprouts that cost an extra $.50 a pound.
Small Guy - Marcus - Plenty Of Fish -
I think a key thing to remember is to alter your perspective. Focus on what your business offers and craft it to what the customer wants. Then blast that message.
If all you see is your SEO focus ie Google , you will not see the greater opportunities and "will" get hit hard. SEO is only a marketing method.
At least 3 strong seperate marketing methods should be pursued, preferably 4 with others trained in the background waiting to take seniority. [ IMO ]
It all comes back to diversity.
One day we were earning $10k while we slept, each month. We would wake up, ship orders, and then spend the day trying to figure out how to earn a bigger share of the market. We were the FIRST in our trade to come to the web with a full blown shopping cart system, and small business friendly pricing. We were flooded.
The manufacturer who supplied us took note of skyrocketing sales, and decide one day, we were earning to much. His site was not indexed by the engines and he didn't advertise on the web. We were golden. Until he got greedy. We woke up one day to see his ads all over the web. Instantly, our supplier was well-known, and we were cut out of the middle. Our business crashed.
From that, we learned to diversify. Having one business model, one web business is not bright. I don't care if you have been brick and mortar for fifty years. When you come to the web trying to keep a business alive that can't compete with only sidewalk traffic, you are risking it all. You have maybe three years on the web, if you are lucky, before everything turns upside down, and you are left with nothing.
The web is constantly changing, and it changes so fast, that in one year, you will not even recognize certain sectors. You have to spend more time each day watching the competition, than you do watching your own business. That is a fact. What are they doing? Is it better than what I am doing? This is the single most important thing I can tell you. Think about that. Hard.
In my case, we set the pace, the rest followed. When they would catch up, we became creative, innovative, staying ahead of the pack. The only thing we didn't anticipate was the greed of our supplier. He broke the golden rule, written in stone many decades ago, " you don't cut the throats of your downline, those sales people you do not pay, do not have on the payroll, who work their fannys off to make a buck, at no cost to you whatsoever." They are your lifeline.
And yet, the manufacturer began to sell to the public, directly, and we fell, like rocks.
That is the web. If you put all your eggs in one basket, be prepare to have one very large feast of scrambled eggs followed by a very long period of fasting.
Diversify. What chip company also sells soda pop as well as runs some successful fast food restaurants in the U.S.? We all know. They are alive because they diversified.
Yes, I know, that you have no employees, and it is just you and the spouse, you wonder how you have the manpower to diversify. I can only say you have to hunker down. Work more hours. Find more shortcuts in the workday so you can do more in less time. If we can do it, so can you.
We survived the Google search engine fiasco of 2001, and are still here. The morning after... nobody could have convinced me we would survive. But, instead of feeling sad and self-defeated, we got tough instantly, and within 90 days we were crawling back up to the top.
[edited by: MsHuggys at 1:59 am (utc) on Mar. 22, 2007]
StickyNote, I must have not come across properly - I totally agree with what you are saying and i was trying to say the same thing myself (to be sort of inspirational - backfired!)
Small guys have the edge online - period. Ability to execute is the whole thing online and I appreciate that - if you can do that then you are past the first hurdle.
And that is exactly my point - go for the niche keywords that relate to your product, it is cool to call it the "long tail" but it means the same thing - this is the "secret" of understanding both your products and how your customers know your products.
Know your products first - but don't ever be so pretentious as to know exactly how your potential customers search for your products and services - supplement that through additional services.
"And yet, the manufacturer began to sell to the public, directly, and we fell, like rocks. That is the web. If you put all your eggs in one basket, be prepare to have one very large feast of scrambled eggs followed by a very long period of fasting"
That is not the web - that is business and if you are work like that then you will fail, the reality of competition and knowing that what you know today will not be the same in the future.
Get hold of that and stop being fundamentally naieve and listen to a lot of experienced people on these forums and you will be in better shape.
Good business people do not blame a lack of success on "other factors" in life - and by that I mean they do not ever attribute failure to external factors "beyond their control".
Just one or two points on these sort of things.
tedster, exactly what I was saying.
This subject is very important to me as my town has become a wasteland for drug dealers and that is something hard to take now.
I am a product of my life experience which was mostly being attacked and being beaten up by kids at my school - that is life, and now the government has decided to put together these schools into one with devastating effects (gun and knife crime is now rife in east lancashire)
Apologies if this sounds a bit out of context but what tedster said made me think about myself and how respectful I am of being here.
What is (or has been) is irrelevant - today is the most important issue and that is so variable online as it is volatile.
Anyone reading this whole thread has the capacity to learn the stuff needed - it is how you learn and how much you learn that will define how good you are online.
I am even motivated to set up a website with everything included - I must be mental! Luckily I am not allowed to promote urls here!
"the greed of our supplier. He broke the golden rule, written in stone many decades ago"
I don't mean to be funny but was the contract written (in stone) or not?
If there is no real contract that can be enforced by a court of law (even in the UK!) then it would ALWAYS be your fault.
If you didn't have an enforcable contract then it is your fault and don't get carried away in the moment as that is the 100% disaster area!
On the other hand if you can prove he has broken a contract then you should take it further.
Sorry, being flippant about MsHuggys post - not my intention in general!
[edited by: Swanson at 4:05 am (utc) on Mar. 22, 2007]
|Question to you: what's your business plan in case a tsunami hits the UK? |
You can get business interruption insurance in case your premises burns down/tsunami hits/whatever, which covers your profits during downtime.
Unfortunately, there isn't any "google rankings" insurance.
>> Question to you: what's your business plan in case a tsunami hits the UK.
and if an asteroid hits..... Jesus. Sometimes things just suck. In the end we all will die anyway, but I don't see what does that have to do with Google's rankings.
|Martin40, many thanks - flattery will get you everywhere :) |
Gosh, I know someone who can't take a compliment.
|I am a product of my life experience which was mostly being attacked and being beaten up by kids at my school |
Thanks for sharing, Swanson (..)
|and if an asteroid hits..... <swear word>. Sometimes things just suck. In the end we all will die anyway, but I don't see what does that have to do with Google's rankings. |
Then I'll tell you. Google changed it's policy somewhere between mid 2006 and now and many sites and businesses were caught by surprise. Hindsight is a splendid thing, but should webmasters really have seen it coming? Maybe, maybe not, but in any case: Several of my friends are online retailers and when I tell them: "do this or that to be prepared for Google trouble" it just doesn't sink in. It's all very well to be wise after the fact, but many more business will go down. Men and boys, yeah sure. But these were all good sites that are going down the drain and for what? How many businsses today realize that the Dollar is going to collapse? Any when it happens, then all the sm*rt*sses who by chance don't depend on the Dollar will have their "you should have seen it coming" ready. Nobody will blaim the failing policy makers because it's much more fun gloating at the victims.
[edited by: Martin40 at 4:20 pm (utc) on Mar. 22, 2007]
If your an eccomerce site, here are some additional tricks that will help on conversions and gain you some "trust rank" and consumer confidence.
1. Google Check out. When we put it on our site, we had more conversions. Shoppers tend to trust google so if they see google check out on your site they will be more likely to trust your site.
2. Better Business Bureau Seal on our site. Trust me, it was well worth the large cost. A few weeks ago I asked for input at this thread:
We took the plunge and paid the money. It had a huge impact on our business since our average transaction is $1000 plus. It targeted a certain group of shoppers, but it really has helped.
As far as google check out and adwords goes, we used to target 1st position in adwords. Since google is nice enough to put that little google check out graphic next to the ad, we watched the Click through ratio grow. Now we target either the second or third spot in adwords which costs us less and gets us the same click throughs.
| This 157 message thread spans 6 pages: < < 157 ( 1 2 3 4  6 ) > > |