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Business Survival, With Or Without Google Organic Traffic

 11:18 pm on Jan 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

System: The following 74 messages were cut out of thread at: http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4533352.htm [webmasterworld.com] by engine - 12:56 pm on Jan 7, 2013 (utc 0)

Everyone by now should realize what the risk is with total dependency on Google. You can't build your entire business (or living) on it because you can't control it. It doesn't MATTER if there are no other options available to you (which, by the way, I do not for one minute believe) that doesn't change the basic truth that what Google gives, Google can easily take away in an instant. And all the sorrow or complaints won't pay the rent.

That said, I have sites that depend almost entirely on Google traffic. But I'm aware of the risks, and they aren't my main source of income. I have other sites that are more under my own control, and while they get organic traffic, they also use other channels (I also run a consulting company as a "day job") That way, my risk is at least somewhat distributed.

Rather than discuss the folly of depending on Google (which, c'mon, isn't really debatable) maybe it'd be more constructive to talk about what other channels you can use. I'm not sure that belongs here in this forum though (not sure where it would go that anyone would actually find it)

For example, I'm taking some of that "free money" that I get from the sites that depend on Google, and I'm having a mobile app made for iOS and Android. More than half my traffic is mobile, so that's an easy call. The first version probably won't be very fancy (mobile app development ain't cheap) but it starts to build my base and I can always ramp it up in 2.0 and 3.0 and so on.



 7:12 pm on Jan 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

TMS, I see that as Google gets more granular and specific with the traffic it sends, our traffic 'could' go down. However, that traffic is likely to convert much better, because it's more specific and qualified, so we don't necessarily lose financially in that scenario, we just have less traffic.

It's also possible we wouldn't have less traffic, as we could pick up traffic elsewhere if our site is found to be a better match to more individual searchers than our competitors. In that scenario we win big time....same traffic as before but it's much better converting.

If the argument is Google will be sending more of their traffic to their own sites then, yes, the end of the world is nigh. They have all the information they need about every site in the world to set up in competition, do a better job and have all their sites ranking top on merit.

It's difficult to be certain how this will play out though. Going down this road appears obvious but Google needs websites and it needs websites to need it. If Google gives us an incentive to move away from depending on them then one day we might actually decide to block Google and then it has nothing to show in its' results. Would they risk that?

Building a business on Google traffic is risky, no doubt about that, but assuming Google will go for the 'easy money' is a big underestimation of their ability.

My view is Google wants to do a better job of sending the right traffic to the right sites. They are miles away from that at the moment (if my keyword stats are anything to go by) and it might actually be better for us when they perfect it, you never know.


 7:25 pm on Jan 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

As I said earlier in regards to searching for the word "gristle" - Google now returns the definition inside a big block above the Merriam-Webster and Wikipedia links. That appears to be a big blow to any traffic those sites would have normally received. As a user my needs are met, thank you Google. No need to click on those links.

If this is an indication of the "one right answer," it would seem to be sounding the death knell for countless sites. If it can, Google will simply scrape and provide the info themselves, who's going to stop them? Nobody.


 7:26 pm on Jan 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

My view is Google wants to do a better job of sending the right traffic to the right sites.

They don't have to - all they have to do is send traffic to the people that pay them to send traffic. Those not paying to be on the Google portal are becoming less relevant...


 7:53 pm on Jan 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

who's going to stop them?

If they start infringing copyright on a grand scale, lots of people.


 8:09 pm on Jan 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

I just have a number of different sites so usually when some go down others go up, then I improve the ones that went down. And they do go up and down a lot. If I only had one or two sites it would be quite an income roller coaster. But there are enough sites these days to even things out a bit.

I don't really do any SEO or link building these days as I have enough established sites that have gathered natural back links over the years. I spend most of my time trying to create unique content. I do plan to start some new sites this year, so I may have to learn more about link building circa 2013 or social media.

I have also invested some of my profits each year in low risk financial investments to create a diversified income stream.

[edited by: Jane_Doe at 8:16 pm (utc) on Jan 8, 2013]


 8:15 pm on Jan 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

If it can, Google will simply scrape and provide the info themselves, who's going to stop them? Nobody.

That's where the "personalization" comes in. Before long the Google won't have to scrape - the content will be provided by users logging in. Everything will be tailored to that user. All revenue based.

People are already giving away vast amounts of personal information. From geo information on cell phones to just giving it to the Google.

Take the relationship between cell phones and gmail, for instance: the Google knows you are at your child's elementary school every morning and every afternoon. The Google is scanning your emails - picks up that someone asked how your child was doing. Next thing you know your your search results are "personalized" to show you related topics of elementary school children. Throw in your search history and search habits and things become more "personalized". All the while cutting out organic search results - thereby making organic results less relevant, and no longer needed, to the user of the Google...


 9:08 pm on Jan 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

If you want some insight as to what may be coming in organic (with regards to personalization), take a close look at what they're already doing in paid.

With regards to users logging in - searchengineworld had a post this morning about Google trying to hire someone who could convince users to do more searches logged in (and you know what that does to keyword data) They found a job posting, or somesuch.


All this stuff adds up.


 9:58 pm on Jan 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

Although Netmag' broad list ( This thread msg:4534078 ) also includes Amazon, I've heard from many that they're no better than Google.

They'll serve you until your niche is big enough to be offered by themselves.

So unless you're certain it's not a waste of effort for short term, be cautious.

Good Advice


 10:00 pm on Jan 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

If they start infringing copyright on a grand scale, lots of people.

This is exactly what I was talking about with having to 'throw out' what I think is 'cool', 'right' or even 'ethical' sometimes and just look at reality ... I wish you were right, but the following links represent what appears to be copyright infringement and reality WRT Google:


No one and nothing has stopped them.
It's still there and available...

They put it up 4 or so years ago. It's been highly contested as anti-trust and copyright infringement since 2009. It's still not completely settled, but it's still not gone either.


 10:07 pm on Jan 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

Google have a pretty good record on copyright in the courts, they have better lawyers than you and I can afford. The whole tech industry is full of copyright and patent infringements. The ethos seems to be get there first and you'll afford the damages anyway


 11:26 pm on Jan 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

The UK Government published the final part of its response to its copyright consultation ("Modernising Copyright: a modern, robust and flexible framework") on 20 December 2012.

The first of its three principles: "The copyright framework must continue to incentivise creators of content and support them in protecting their rights from unlawful use".

This follows implementation of the Hargreaves review (published in 2011), which introduced a number of measures (including the formation of a Small Claims Track as part of the Patents County Court) to make it easier for individuals and small businesses to pursue infringement claims without incurring prohibitive costs.

While these developments (which clearly indicate an intention on the part of the UK government, and similar moves are in progress in other parts of the EU) would make Google's widespread infringement unwise, I think it unlikely to happen anyway: my own text material is frequently plagiarised, and where this has involved Google (e.g. material has appeared on blogspot) they have responded promptly to DMCA removal requests, typically removing the material within 48 hours of notification.

I am less confident about images (where Google are less principled, to put it mildly). CSS sprites are useful in more ways than one.


 11:54 pm on Jan 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

I look at this subject a somewhat different way. Google is kind of in a "here now, gone and then back" state these days. From a true business standpoint how do you budget it. You can budget for a minimal Google footprint and your fine and you survive. But what happens when Google gives you the free traffic? Many companies don't have the structure in place to handle these swings. Just because Google traffic is strong, do you expand? Do you turn business away? That fluctuation with Googles "on/off" switch can destroy a well run business. You can be strong, expand and then Google cuts the traffic. If your leveraged too much your done. This thing kind of reminds me of the credit crunch a few years back. People expanded too fast with easy credit and abandoned conservative business models and eventually got caught in the credit bubble. I can see that same scenario right here caused by Google. That crisis was caused by bank and Wall Street games and manipulation. Now we have Google manipulation.


 1:28 am on Jan 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

You are correct the details are here ( for UK readers ) [justice.gov.uk...]
I am not sure what effect this has in practice, or what jurisdictions it may cover. Even given the limited costs that can be claimed we could generate about 2,000 cases.
You are correct blogspot applications for removal are dealt with very quickly.

@Awarn we used our free traffic to expand - big mistake should have just banked the cash


 7:29 am on Jan 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

Great thread!

I have been privy to build a few businesses in my time. Some relied on Google, others didn't.

Some relied on businesses relying on Google :)

I learned a few things along the way. Hard lessons are good in many ways because they create wisdom and prevent the aware entrepreneur / businessman from repeating mistakes.

Here are my takeaways, hopefully you can share yours if you have some...

It is increasingly difficult to build and run and be successful with businesses with poor business models, USPs and business / marketing strategies in Google or in any channel.

Understanding how to solve a problem in a unique way and presenting that solution in a unique way is still worth its weight in gold

Making money is different from being wealthy. And different from being successful in business (a few others have voiced this and I agree 110%) Building a business and / or being wealthy requires more strategy, and requires foresight and the ability to react to changes and embrace risk, when needed

Most online businesses see 5-10% of the available potential of what their company could truly offer.

Brandscaping and cooperation, rather than competition, wins the race 2013+.

So in a nutshell, the biggest two areas I work on insofar as building channels that survive Google updates are partnerships and list building utilizing content marketing driven by social media directed at targeted prospects.


 11:41 pm on Jan 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

netmeg, do you do/recommend guest blogging for promotion? I'm assuming that's not what you meant by "blogs" in your list.


 12:03 am on Jan 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

Sure, as long as it's on topic, and not loaded up with links. When I've done it, I haven't put any links in the actual post, just one in the profile.


 8:48 am on Jan 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

After Panda, I focused on improving my weekly email newsletter by switching to HTML format and adding images to go with all my articles. It is a lot of work, but a lot of my traffic is repeat visitors. My newsletter now has 50,000+ subscribers.

For the past year I have spent a lot of time using Pinterest and building up my following there. It is surprising how many followers you can get in a short amount of time if you really promote it. I am getting a lot of traffic from Pinterest now, and several of my posts have gone "viral" on there with 25,000 re-pins or more. I am still getting traffic from those posts.

A lot of sites in my niche are creating e-books for Kindle and that is what I am concentrating on this year. I have spent so much time in the past year trying to create great content for my site that I have a lot of material now to create some great e-books. There are people who have had a lot of success with this, so I am going to give it a try.

To replace some of my lost income I am now ghostwriting articles for other sites, and have had a lot of success with this the past couple of months and made some extra $$.


 4:20 pm on Jan 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

Sure, as long as it's on topic, and not loaded up with links. When I've done it, I haven't put any links in the actual post, just one in the profile.

Thanks for the response. I've actually seen people recommend against this, for fear it will hurt Google rankings. I've been trying to convince myself for two years now that I have to forget about upsetting Google and just work on tried and true forms of promotion that work. Then if Google dumps me anyway, at least I have other traffic streams.

Here's a rather obvious thing to add to the list: offline relationship building. It seems like a low ROI to some people, I know, but people respond differently if they know you in person. While I've gotten tremendous value out of knowing other webmasters online that I'll probably never meet, knowing people offline is really something else.

I keep business cards for each site, and hand them out to anyone who shows interest in my sites. In this economy, I get more interest when people learn that I actually make money running websites - they want to know how they can do it themselves. I've helped a few people get set up, and several of them have rewarded me with some fabulous content opportunities for my site. A lot of people know a skill, like great cooking, and they just need someone to help them see how that gets turned into a website. And once I help them, they want to help back.

I also have a couple of sites that cause me to go to shops a lot and keep track of what's being sold in my market, how it's being merchandised, etc. I've gotten to talking with a number of my local sales assistants in these shops, many of whom have their jobs because they love the products they sell, and they're thrilled to hear I have a related website. Do they all come visit and send me traffic? Not at all, but they know me when I come see them, and they meet bigwigs from the corporate office who might be interested and so on. You just never know where relationships are going to lead.

This is just good old-fashioned salesmanship, which despite what you may have heard is really just listening to people and trying to think how you can help them. I try to do this online as well, but I don't think you can replace doing it in person.


 9:15 pm on Jan 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Reading Vanessa Fox's post today on page titles:
PS – this article currently ranks on the first page of Google unpaid results and in the News onebox for the query [when is the inauguration]:

Interesting that she used the phrase "Google unpaid results" and not, organics. Somehow, I find that telling.


 11:09 pm on Jan 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Interesting that she used the phrase "Google unpaid results" and not, organics. Somehow, I find that telling.

Why not call them what they really are. Brand name results, there is nothing organic about them I agree.

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