| This 140 message thread spans 5 pages: 140 (  2 3 4 5 ) > > || |
|Business Survival, With Or Without Google Organic Traffic|
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.
And, now it's official ... They don't owe anyone anything:
|GOOGLE’S ANTITRUST VICTORY | The Federal Trade Commission said on Thursday that Google had not violated antitrust or anticompetition laws in the way it arranges its search results — a major victory for the Internet giant after a nearly two-year investigation. |
This dependency thing relates to more than just Google traffic. A lot of businesses depend far more on a third party service than they probably even realise. Whether it be a trading platform like Ebay or Amazon or ad revenue via Adsense... even access to the web via your ISP. If any of those stopped providing you with their service right now, a lot of online businesses would struggle, many might not even recover.
One issue is that, because making money online has pretty low barriers to entry, it can mask the need for applying traditional business principles: building relationships and spreading risk being the two that immediately spring to mind. Making money does not equal running a business.
|One issue is that, because making money online has pretty low barriers to entry, it can mask the need for applying traditional business principles: building relationships and spreading risk being the two that immediately spring to mind. Making money does not equal running a business. |
That's a great point.
|And, now it's official ... They don't owe anyone |
"The decision may set up a conflict with officials in Europe, where Google is battling similar concerns."
On their current/recent (and not-so-recent) key term/short phrase results they don't serve me as a searcher, or as a recipient of searches.
On longer phrases they are still a lot better than the competition (a lot of posters here have commented on long-tail traffic): Bing's results treat a long phrase like multiple separate terms.
It doesn't actually matter whether they owe anyone anything. A better engine will displace them (and one will come, eventually), but until one does our marketing choices for new business are limited. It is all very well to say we must not rely on organic placement, but if your market is the general public not many new customers will find you by other means, however much you spend.
|Making money does not equal running a business. |
I don't know of a single successful business that didn't.
|I'm having a mobile app made for iOS and Android. More than half my traffic is mobile... |
I'm curious about your thought process here, do you believe that the mobile app is going to get you more/different traffic or help you retain/convert your current traffic or both or something else?
|Making money does not equal running a business |
Actually, the more I think about it, making money is what distinguishes running a business from a hobby.
Hmmm ... Personally, I think long-term viability is what distinguishes the difference between running a business and a hobby, because according to your line of reasoning Facebook was a hobby for it's first two years as a publicly traded company since they didn't make money ... They actually lost $138,000,000 in 2007 and $56,000,000 in 2008, but in 2011 they made $1,000,000,000.
Many businesses actually have periods of time when they lose or don't make money, think GM, Ford, American Airlines, and on and on, but I highly doubt anyone would say they're a hobby, because they all have long-term viability, even if they are always profitable.
[edited by: TheMadScientist at 12:25 am (utc) on Jan 5, 2013]
|Personally, I think long-term viability is what distinguishes the difference between running a business and a hobby |
I agree that "making money" does not mean "making instant money", but a business that is not profitable over time will not go on being a business. Investment is a cost that is seldom instantly recovered.
So, I think we're saying the same thing (or similar things) ... The ability to make money long-term is what 'makes a business', which is exactly the point of this thread and the 'over-dependence' on Google for a living, because without balance and diversification of traffic sources/revenue streams, which many seem to 'forget about' when free traffic is high, they don't have the long-term sustainability they need to actually 'be a business' rather than a hobby that makes money.
I could be 'misinterpreting' what you're saying, but I think we're thinking along the same lines, even if we're describing things a bit differently.
Hobbies don't make money they generally substitute the cost of the hobby. If profit is accrued and is pursued it is a business.
Free traffic is a product of the business model introduced by the internet and reinforced by SEs. As this very new medium is tightened and regulated the profit margins will be reduced. The wild wild west is no more.
There you go. If you make money with your website Google wants that money. Such is the way of a Wall St listed company.
|If you make money with your website Google wants that money. |
Oh, I don't think they care at all if you make money with your site or not to want your cash. I don't think they're anywhere near considerate enough to limit the cash they want to being from sites that make money (lol).
And, you forgot to mention if you have traffic, they want keep that from you too...
My views aren't even 'opinion' or 'editorial', they've stated very clearly they want to provide people with 'the one right answer' and are set on becoming a 'knowledge engine' rather than a search engine.
Do you [meaning anyone reading] think a page on your site is the '1 in a million' (literally) they'll decide is the 'one right answer' to send traffic to when someone types in a query if they don't provide the product or 'one right answer' themselves?
To be that 'one right answer' you better hope people are typing in the name of your 'business' (site) quite a bit, in my opinion. (I might be 'opinionated, confident and #*$!y', but I'm not even nuts enough to be counting on any freebies from 'knowledge engines' moving forward ... They'll only count as 'a bonus' to whatever other means of promotion I can think of.)
I sincerely hope people 'get' this thread isn't a joke.
There is a Huge pitfall to relying on free traffic from Google, and it's only getting deeper.
@TheMadScientist, I do agree with you on the principle that depending on any one source of traffic isn't going to be a good long term viable model. So it would be great to discuss the alternatives and how much traffic do they bring in?
What are their conversion rates? Since you already seem to have ignored Google (and probably having success with other viable models), it would be great to know your feedback on them. I know that you can't get into the specifics of everything but the data points and the approaches towards the alternatives would be valuable info.
Actually, I thought I was completely out of this game about a year ago (that's how 'off Google' I was), because I believe it's seriously ending for most people and doing things at the level they're going to need to be to rank moving forward is going to be So Tedious and Meticulous and Testing/Results Oriented (actually Dictated) I didn't really want to bother with it. (It's really going to 'get nutty and difficult' in my opinion, way more than it is even now.)
But, I hopped back in for a bit and the very limited number of people I'm working with are just now 'getting' they need to move the direction I'm suggesting (rapidly), because it's tough to 'get off the free traffic drug' once you're hooked on it and think it will always be there...
I can tell you promotions 'on the way' we will likely be testing like you're wanting numbers from are: News (meaning print and online advertising), Magazine Publications (on and offline), Direct Mail, Possibly Television, Social. (Tracking some of those is difficult, but it's something I'm sure we'll figure out how to handle.)
The reason we decided on those is they're 'broad reach', can be fairly targeted to specific audiences, and very importantly, all build name recognition (which should 'directly impact' type in's of the brand name, and general name recognition is a win any way you look at it.)
Basically, the conversation I had with the people I'm talking about the other day got to: 'Okay, if we had B & M locations in multiple cities across the US, how would we promote them without search engines?' Then we took what we came up with and are applying it to the site.
I should note: I do believe it will be possible to get traffic from the 'knowledge engines' in the future, but it's not something I think most people are going to be able to keep doing, because things are going to have to be on a level that's beyond what most are capable of, in my opinion, so my 'official advice' is don't even think about relying on it.
* The reason I hopped back in for a bit is there's a site I'd like to build (one of those 'late night ideas'), but it won't be for search engines at all in the way I'm thinking of doing it ... It'll be for visitors and how it will go remains to be seen, because I have serious thoughts about building it so it can't be indexed other than the home page, since it's mine and I don't have to answer to anyone about it (except the guy in the mirror who keeps trying to fire me for even thinking about trying this crazy idea LOL).)
[edited by: TheMadScientist at 8:21 am (utc) on Jan 5, 2013]
|I should note: I do believe it will be possible to get traffic from the 'knowledge engines' in the future, but it's not something I think most people are going to be able to keep doing, because things are going to have to be on a level that's beyond what most are capable of, in my opinion, so my 'official advice' is don't even think about relying on it. |
The more I think about it, the more I think you might not be able to except for 'name typins' once they get to where they have enough advertisers ... IDK ... It's really scary as a site owner moving forward, in my opinion, because the direction they're going is likely going to really 'dry up' free traffic from Google for so many.
** To give people an idea of how difficult I see things becoming, I haven't done much on the site I said I'd like to build in my previous post, because I'm really not sure it's even worth building it yet ... Some days, I think I might just help the few people I'm working with get their future solidified and walk away from this game, I haven't decided for sure yet.
[edited by: TheMadScientist at 8:40 am (utc) on Jan 5, 2013]
Lot of talk about not depending on free organic traffic around here, but no mention of what the specific alternatives to it are. How about a list?
|what the specific alternatives to it are |
That is the dilemma: what methods are your potential customers most likely to use in searching for your product or service?
If the answer to that question is Google, and in many cases it is, the advice not to rely on it is useless. Giving up means giving up a source of new business, and getting new customers to find you by other means will cost more and yield less.
I think Google - and search engines in general - will be dominant for some time yet. Jumping ship is not a viable option.
One problem is that relevance - the search-engine's Holy Grail - isn't easily translatable into commercial terms: buying a degree doesn't make you an authority. However, we should all ask why our own page should be the most relevant for a given term. I think the days when you could simply put up a lot of markers (keyword count and emphasis, backlink anchor-text, etc.) are fading, and one of Google's aims is to make them history.
That doesn't mean relevance is no longer relevant, or that we should all roll over and let some less relevant site hijack our business.
I am reading a lot of pessimism on this thread and others. Can we get it into proportion?
Let's say someone goes into retail, selling widgets from a High Street shop. There are tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds to pay out for stock, fittings, lease of the property, rates and the host of other expenses that just 'happen'. Staff have to be paid, the shop has to be heated and lit, stolen stock replaced and slow selling lines sold off cheaply. Then either widgets go out of fashion, they become available much more cheaply on the web or a widget superstore opens nearby and takes all the business.
Let us now imagine that this person gets a hosting package for an unlimited number of domains for 100 pounds a year (and that's top end). A domain name costs say 10 pounds a year tops and good graphical elements which can be transformed in Photoshop cost just a few dollars each. For about 10 pounds a website can be online and bearing in mind the hosting costs it only needs to make more than about 20 pounds a year to be profitable. So this person sits down and works hard producing site after site, writing the copy and designing the graphics him - or her - self. Some sites may produce zilch but by the law of averages, some others will blossom.
So how is this such a bad business to be in? I dunno about you but I've been in business for around half a century and I've both watched and been involved in many ventures that have soared up the heights, enjoyed their allotted span and then faded or even crashed as something new has caught the public's attention or competition has risen to the detriment of profitability. However, until Internet marketing came along I have never seen any business in which entry costs have been so low, where flexibility in choice of products or services to promote was so vast or where working conditions (you can't beat your own armchair at home) were so comfortable.
Some of us remember the pre-Google days when GoTo charged megabucks for clicks, Looksmart charged less for clicks but produced negligible conversions, Yahoo charged 295 US dollars to even consider listing a site with no refund if it decided against it. Do you know how easy life is now in comparison?
This is a business we are in. It needs investment, there needs to be provisions made for bad times, but nowhere near as much as in traditional businesses. Sure a change by Google can wipe our a website but other businesses get wiped out too by factors beyond their control. And if a site is wiped out, so what? What about the other ten, hundred, thousand other websites that the business owns? When one falls, another rises.
Yes by all means develop other marketing methods that don't rely on Google, that is sensible. However for the majority of us there is still a lot of mileage left in this 'free' business and those who ignore this fact may suffer for 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. |
@netmeg - I'm curious if/how you plan to monetize this.
|Making money does not equal running a business. |
True. Any idiot can make money. Not every idiot can run (and grow) a successful business.
|I'm curious about your thought process here, do you believe that the mobile app is going to get you more/different traffic or help you retain/convert your current traffic or both or something else? |
Yes to all of this.
|@netmeg - I'm curious if/how you plan to monetize this. |
Initially with an ad. If it seems popular enough and I get enough downloads, I have an idea for enhancements and a game that could be included with it where I could maybe sell a premium version of it for 99 cents or so, without ads.
|but no mention of what the specific alternatives to it are. How about a list? |
Pretty sure I posted a list in the item about what makes a brand. It's in this forum somewhere.
|So how is this such a bad business to be in? |
It's not a bad business to be in. I'm in this business myself. But it's not a reliable business to be in. I have learned a little about how to manage risk; it took a lot of mistakes and I've lost a lot of money at times too. The problem is that once the organic traffic (and the money) start rolling in, pretty much instantly you start thinking it's always gonna be that way. So that's where you focus your time and efforts, and you count on it, and even if you do plan for the future, the fact that Google can (and probably will) shut the spigot off at some point doesn't enter into it. And maybe you hire people, and buy a house, and it's all based on what is essentially a cardboard foundation. It *might* hold up - but it's become increasingly clear that it might not. Because it's cardboard. And because you don't really have any control over it.
I love organic traffic, and I've made a ton of money from it. But it has become too passive for me. Basically I have to sit here and hope A) that someone is searching for what I have, and B) that I show up at the top. That's a lot of if. Whereas, if I pay attention to my users and figure out where they are, then I can go to there and get more of them.
BTW I work in some of the most boring-ass B2B niches on the planet, and there are ALWAYS multiple channels to reach people. I've never yet met one where Google organic search is the ONLY available channel. If I did, I'd either create a churn and burn site to get what I could out of it (but make no plans for the future) or more likely I'd run like blazes away from it. The fact that there's short term money there doesn't mean it's a viable long term business option. It just doesn't.
[edited by: goodroi at 4:24 pm (utc) on Jan 5, 2013]
|Basically I have to sit here and hope A) that someone is searching for what I have, and B) that I show up at the top. |
Someone is certainly searching for what I have: if there isn't a market for it you don't have a business.
An important part of "optimisation" is anticipating what terms the searcher is likely to use for what you offer (they are not searching for what you have: they are searching for what they call what you have). Showing at the top for these is more useful than showing at the top for other terms, but don't underestimate the value of showing at the top full stop: if someone is wanting technical information about how to mend their broken widget they may not be planning to replace it today, but they may well come back to you when they do want to replace it if they found you easily and the information you provided was useful. Marketing the business (in terms of raising public awareness of it) is as important as marketing individual products and services.
Refining your site(s) to match changing search patterns and terms does not mean sitting and hoping. Volatility is Google results in the last year makes getting it right more difficult, but some people are still getting it right (although Google is also more often getting it wrong).
To get it right you need to make changes, wait to see the effect, evaluate, make changes...
There isn't a permanent solution (whatever you do won't keep you on page 1 forever), but being on page 1 is important for a business now as it has ever been.
> the fact that Google can (and probably will) shut the spigot off
I'd say they have been turning the knob harder to the right since 2005 when I first saw the Froogle shopping bags on top of the organics. Then came the ads on top. Those layout changes alone took a big bite out of whatever traffic Google had been sending my way. Then came Panda, Penguin, EMD and brand bias to turn the knob all but closed.
Fortunately, my main site is old and established in it's niche. Search traffic is just 30%, the rest is direct and referral. My other sites are not so fortunate and rely much more on search traffic which in 2013 has all but dried up. As a consequence, I'm investing much more energy in seeing what can be done to offset that loss by boosting their Facebook and Twitter presence. So far, it's not helped much, but I see it as a better use of my time than trying to appease Google. That ship has sailed.
|Refining your site(s) to match changing search patterns and terms does not mean sitting and hoping. Volatility is Google results in the last year makes getting it right more difficult, but some people are still getting it right (although Google is also more often getting it wrong). |
To get it right you need to make changes, wait to see the effect, evaluate, make changes...
Yes of course. But these are tactics. Businesses (and long term planning) need strategies. There's a difference.
Look, if you are the agent for the hottest movie star in Hollywood, you still want to have a few more clients in your pocket just in case. It's just not good business strategy to hitch your whole star to one wagon.
Mods, can we build a list of other traffic strategies? I remember the one netmeg posted somewhere, and maybe in this context it would generate better discussion.
For now, I'll just say this: study marketing. You'll find SEO plays a rather small part in the strategy of major brands.
And for people who dismiss social media? I'm familiar with the strategies of two local businesses, one small and one medium. They both have people spending a huge amount of time just going out and meeting people who might potentially know or become a client. Their job is to collect contacts and leave them with good impressions of the business. For everyone hundred people they meet, maybe 1 will eventually bring them business.
I read people here complaining that if they court social media, building up a profile and engaging with people, the conversions might be 1 in 100 or 1 in 1000. But think how quickly you can "meet" a hundred people in social media compared to just hitting the streets and going to local events. And the assumption that your product has to be sexy to make it in social media isn't true. For example, if you're looking for a trustworthy plumber or DIY repair info, would you rather search Google (who doesn't rate the trustworthiness) or social media where someone you actually know is telling you they found a great plumber on whatever.com, or a great DIY repair tutorial or kit on whatever.com?
Part of the appeal of SEO was to people who didn't like trying to think like their audience - instead, you could just learn to think like an algorithm. But the human element is back - it never really went away. A smart business strategy will always involve understanding the target market and figuring out ways to reach them without annoying them.
|But these are tactics. Businesses (and long term planning) need strategies. There's a difference. |
"Tactics is knowing what to do when there is something to do. Strategy is knowing what to do when there is nothing to do." (Tartakower)
That is the difference.
|Some of us remember the pre-Google days when GoTo charged megabucks for clicks, Looksmart charged less for clicks but produced negligible conversions, Yahoo charged 295 US dollars to even consider listing a site with no refund if it decided against it. |
I remember those search engines, but I can't figure out which one had about 90% market share, $20+ Billion in cash and a publicly stated goal of providing people with 'the one right answer' (which means they're aimed at your [meaning anyone who's reading's] traffic) ... Please, if you [meaning anyone who's reading] know, remind me which one it was that was anywhere near where Google is today.
Google's unlike anything we've seen come and go ... They're smart, they're committed, they have nearly unlimited cash to back them up and they're after your [meaning anyone who's reading's] traffic.
Don't make the mistake of underestimating them...
As far as another search engine coming along goes, who, besides M$ has deep enough pockets to even come close to the quality and accuracy they provide? Facebook, Apple, who else? There's only a handful of companies, at the most, and they're all Years behind where Google is now as far as development goes...
TMS Vents a bit of frustration at having to remember to 'qualify' the words 'you' and 'your' in a post.
|I think long-term viability is what distinguishes the difference between running a business and a hobby |
Exactly - sustainability is what makes a business.
But not everybody can afford to make the leap from SEO to a sustainable business model with diverse channels. More technology, more skilled employees etc. to achieve stronger brand.
Lack of investment and skills is part of the reason so many folks were unable to combat Panda, and now probably Penguin.
|Free traffic is a product of the business model introduced by the internet and reinforced by SEs |
But it's not free traffic, G is using our sites to produce their SERPS, they take some of our site content and in return we get traffic. It is absolutely not free.
| This 140 message thread spans 5 pages: 140 (  2 3 4 5 ) > > |