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Who is officially broken by Google? I am.

 11:53 pm on Oct 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm putting this out there to say this has been the most horrible few months of my webmaster life. When I mean horrible, I mean bleak. I mean out of my control. I mean having to evaluate where I'm at now, where I was, and where I'm going in the future. I'm talking about life.

I've found this Panda situation to be life altering to me. Don't take my words lightly. I mean it. I'm sure some of you feel the same.

What I truly feel is that the vast majority of people who have escaped this have either been in very small niches or they have amazing and solidly build (and I mean solid) websites.

So I say this that I'm broken. I'm literally contemplating what to bother with and what not to waste time on. I do not have any confidence that my well written or interesting articles will be found or considered "good" when I look at where the "quality lines" have been drawn. Nope, sorry, I'm not able to build Wikipedia level sites.

So I'm left with finding some hold to exist in or stop checking stats. When it's bad, nope, it expands. Sure I've had a penalty and I know the feeling of bleak. This is much different.

I simply do not feel as of today's date, that my best article or website stands a chance in Google. Sure maybe for a few more months it might, but I've seen the new game. I exist with decent organic traffic because I've yet to be thumbed over.

It's the first time ever I can say I'm not enjoying this one bit. It's a crushing feeling and people here who haven't experienced a crash in traffic can't relate. I don't consider those people smarter than me for the most part, I feel they have simply chosen more wisely from the start.

So I'm more interested in hearing if people are shutting sites, selling off domains, getting real jobs, etc.

I was heading in the opposite direction of having to do work or the manual kind. You know, 9-5 work. Thanks to this stock market crash, it's now a real possibility. How can I possibly put myself through this. It's the worst kind of stock market. One company ultimately. Invest in it or don't play at all. Yeah, there is Adwords. Sure we could give up on organic traffic, pay for ad programs, and feel better. I guess that's the decision where I'm heading. I'm not ready for that just yet. Are you?

So where is your life heading currently based on what you're learning about Google ranking and Panda? Are you just starting over? Waiting for Bing? Selling 50% of assets? Getting rid of your Android phone?



 2:11 pm on Oct 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

Like many of you here, we have been hit by panda too for websites that are nothing but best in class. Last year we pulled in AdSense income of $150,000 or so and this year the projection is just $100,000. 50K sure hurts and we have cut back on luxuries but thankfully we can keep the necessities.

We have been in this business for over 10 years and I am a an entrepreneur so I know how change in business environment can wipe out not only little guys but giant corporations with billions of dollars in sales. So I have a more objective view of all of this.

In my opinion, Google will get Panda right because in the past it has gotten things more or less right. It appears to me that either Google has completely lost it (the way Yahoo did it with search at one time) and doesn't care, or they are just too arrogant not to realize what a mess the results are because they are still having an awesome year due to their monopoly, or this is my sincere hope, that they have realized that Panda is a disaster and they are working like mad to fix it, because if they don't fix it, Panda might very well cause their demise in search.

So for those of you who are discouraged, my message is not to give up, look objectively, and react accordingly. Digital media has a bright future and if you have the skills to get this far, by reacting to the changed environment in a positive way, you can succeed. For example, since my expertise is in writing, I have published a dozen or so short stories on Amazon Kindle and have had a lot of success.


 2:18 pm on Oct 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

Digital media has a bright future and if you have the skills to get this far, by reacting to the changed environment in a positive way, you can succeed. For example, since my expertise is in writing, I have published a dozen or so short stories on Amazon Kindle and have had a lot of success.

That's exactly it. The thing to understand is that the web is incredibly good to producers, but incredibly harsh to the "middlemen".

If you are a middleman - you make money off Adsense or affiliate marketing i.e. the middle guy between the reader and the retailers, (who ares themselves the middleman between the producer and customer) or you are the middleman in the music or book industries, you are going to get hammered.

So become a producer or an ecommerce retailer, rather than hang out in the middle of a lot of layers, because those are the ones getting removed.


 2:22 pm on Oct 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

If you have an online business that you depend on for revenue (and some of those businesses have an offline component as big or bigger than a physical outlet, with employees, a warehouse, insurance, fixed expenses, etc.), you often must be found in the organic results. Is it wrong to expect that to be the case? Of course not.

If you have a B&M and you haven't budgeted for some advertising and think you'll survive by passing trade only with just a sign over the door and no flyers or newspaper ads etc to say that you are open and what you sell or serve..you wont last beyond your first quarter ..unless you have money in back of you to burn..
the web is no different..

I dont use adwords..I can get found by organics and direct links and word of mouth etc .. but I do know advertising is needed which is why I have also bought some spots in the past directly on other websites ( damn good way to get targeted traffic to your own "niche sites" that many here forget ..and Google would rather you did forget and go through adwords and then have those adwords on other sites via adsense..but you can do the research and by adspace on the sites yourself..and you'll pay less than you would for adwords and it is very very targeted..*)..and I also sell ad space direct now on some of my own sites..

* another part of "how not to be dependent on search engine / Google traffic for all your visitors and income" ..see ? a little thought, a little effort, and a little money spent on direct ads...and there are many many other ways some online, some offline ..to not depend on Google for your web businesses ;-)

Get over feeling "entitled" to organic traffic ..


 2:38 pm on Oct 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

It *is* possible to build a business without being slave to Google - nobody said it's easy, but it is possible.

Last week I had a meeting with my top ecommerce client and his management team in order to make plans and budgets for 2012. They have so far not seen any losses from Panda, but I wanted to make sure they understood that it could happen, and we needed to have other channels available in case it did. Turns out the website is only 25% of their revenue anyway (and Google maybe 50% of that) - most of it comes in from their direct mail, good old fashioned telephone sales, email campaigns, contracts, trade shows, and so on.

My second top client has built his onsite business almost entirely through word of mouth. We put a nominal one page site up for him years ago, and until recently he hasn't WANTED to update it because he's got more than he can handle (he's a laboratory doing analyses - he's had to hire ten new people in 2011 without the benefit of Google at all) I'm launching his new site today. 90% of it is walled off from Google or the public - he created his own little community of about a thousand members, and they're busy buying equipment and paying membership dues and ordering lab tests.

So it can be done. But you have to pick your niche, and you have to work your butt off.

There's not enough space in the forum for me to list all the failures I've had over the years. And I still don't take anything for granted. That's why I work on Facebook and email and whatever else I can think of to offset Google.

And lastly - non-internet businesses are just as prone to having events out of their control wreck their businesses, maybe even more so. There's a major road here that was under severe construction - completely ripped up - for over two years because someone ran out of money before it was finished. Pretty much every single restaurant along that road is now out of business (and there were a lot, including my favorite Chinese restaurant) It happens. All you can do is keep going.

P.S. Think about apps.


 3:01 pm on Oct 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

Agree with much of the above. Those who keep on pushing may be able to continue to do well. But...

- I very much disagree that you can spend $10 on a domain and $10 on hosting, or whatever, and have a business though. Webmasters in competitive niches spend 10's to 100's of thousands on link building and promotion each year. The web is by no means at all "democratic", IMO. It may have been easy in 2002, but these days it takes money to make money on the web, just like in the physical world.

My primary point is that Google has a responsibility (with great power comes great responsibility) not to unnecessarily screw with businesses in such a dramatic way. Again, there's a huge difference between another site passing you up, falling down for a few phrases, and having an entire site devalued by an experiment gone bad. It's not responsible.


 3:45 pm on Oct 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

non-internet businesses are just as prone to having events out of their control wreck their businesses

Agreed, there was a bar where I live that popular for people to meet up in and it did well for years until a Bus stop was moved. Within a matter of months it closed.

In answer to the thread though I have a number of clients that are now on the brink. One of the ecommerce sites is over 10 years old, very popular in its neich, but starved of traffic. The staff there have had to take pay cuts and their working week has been reduced to 4 days. I believe they are only just breaking even now after a slight recovery but they can't afford being hit again.


 3:51 pm on Oct 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

Webmasters in competitive niches spend 10's to 100's of thousands on link building and promotion each year.

Not always the case by any means ..I'm in some very competitive "niches" ( and so are many others here )..you can do it with as netmeg says ..working your "butt off"..or you can do it by spending money , sometimes a lot of it , or by doing both..

Any one of those three can work very well..as many here can testify..

travelin cat

 4:04 pm on Oct 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

My primary point is that Google has a responsibility (with great power comes great responsibility) not to unnecessarily screw with businesses in such a dramatic way.

No they don't. They have no responsibility to anyone but their shareholders and employees. If you are depending upon them for your income, it is you that has the responsibility, and you are doing yourself a disservice by thinking otherwise.


 5:32 pm on Oct 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

If Google shut down tomorrow, where would you get business for your website from? THAT is the question we asked ourselves a few years ago, and that is the path we took toward success.

Who Moved My Cheese? Great 30 minute read...


 5:39 pm on Oct 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

Add to that, the "cluetrain"..also won't take you long to read..


 2:48 am on Oct 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

@mhansen, if Google shut down tomorrow...

I say this with the greatest respect possible. It may be a simple statement or an obvious statement to some, but to me, this is my new mantra. Sometime it's not what you read, but it's what you hear. I can only change my thinking moving forward. It's the simplicity of the statement.

In a way I've been through that in the past with Google and I should have changed my whole mentality. Waking up and being shut out. Unfortunately I can be a slow learner in some regards. Anyways, thanks for saying it so well. I find it quite brilliant.


 5:20 am on Oct 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

If google shut down tomorrow I would be out with all the others dancing and celebrating in the streets.

I have no problems with them wanting to be a search engine. If this was all they were, then I don't think many would be sharing such a distrust towards them. These days, it has changed.

They buy companies then use their monopoly to force out competitors. They collect insane amounts of data, and now are pushing hard to make sure we are tracked individually, not just by IP. They unfairly bully and push companies around in clearly Evil ways.

Panda is NOT going to be fixed. We have seen the peak of relevant search results. Giving the best results is clearly not the most effective way for google to make insane profits and they have shown quite clearly that they understand and aren't afraid to act upon this. The relevant results for many $$ keywords will conveniently be the results that google is making money on. Any doubts, just take off the blinders, put down the cool-aid, and make some searches, it's all quite obvious.

If years ago, these kinds of tactics were used by the telco's when they publish phone books, the FTC would've been all over them. For some reason, people think it's ok when google does it. I for one, think it's not unreasonable to expect a business to be found in the phone book or in the monopoly we call google.

You can build roads and highways, and be the best road building company. It only becomes Evil when you start building all these roads to lead towards your own profits while destroying people, companies and jobs in the process.

I feel for all the others who have been destroyed by google. Don't allow these kool-aid drinking social engineering pr types to make you feel bad. Many of you have spent over a decade building solid businesses and hiring and taking care of employees. Most of you have acted with ethics, morality, tons of investment dollars, and hard work. You have nothing to be ashamed of.

Things will change. Like I said before, with their extreme arrogance, google will eventually push a little too far over the line. Meanwhile we can use our skills to survive and continue building great sites like we have always done.


 7:30 am on Oct 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

Yeah! What shazam said.

If google shut down tomorrow everyone would use bing and I'd be able to eat something other than rice and noodles again.


 7:00 am on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

It is time to go to the media with this story.

Too many hard working honest publishers have been gutted.

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