Content_ed - 6:11 pm on Oct 21, 2011 (gmt 0)
Interesting post, but I'm a bit surprised you decided to sell out. Since nobody, and I mean nobody, knows what is triggering Panda downgrades and upgrades, it's quite possible you'd have come back. I guess you got the right price that fit your economic and emotional needs, I couldn't even imagine the right price for me.
Like you, I've had a strong web presence since 1995, though other than "hobbies", the main point was always to support my bricks-and-mortar business activity. While the February Panda took away around 75% of our web derived income, it hasn't had much impact on the rest of the business, though I suppose if the business site doesn't recover from Panda, it eventually will.
But as I've written here before, my hobby-only site recovered from Panda and is current getting 10X as much traffic as it did at the Panda depths - that's several times as much as it got from Google pre-Panda. I didn't change a thing on the website, it simply came back. I guessed earlier it may have been because I reduced the number of links to it from my Pandalized business site, who knows.
While I would never suggest to anybody that they borrow money and start a business based on organic web traffic, it's still the best bet for people who genuinely have something to say, something they are passionate about. Whether we get over ten thousand visitors a day from Google or less than a thousand, it's still hundreds of thousands of people a year that we're reaching without even leaving the house. That just didn't exist before Internet search.
I'm beginning to suspect that my business site will eventually come back unless Google has slapped a manual penalty on it for some unknown reason. The steps down have come on Panda days, so I think it's automated. What I've been doing is slowly stripping out links from the site, so that in the end, it will be nothing but text and pictures with no commercial connections and doesn't relate to any other websites. I'm going slowly because I really don't believe that Google is hating on Adsense, and we never had it on more that 20% of the page views and never more than one unit on the pages that had Adsense.
I wouldn't be a bit surprised if over the course of time, some links I added ten years ago or more may not be pointing to sites that have been taken over by blackhats, and Panda seems inclined to penalize websites for what must be very small mistakes, otherwise everybody with a legitimate website would be back in by now.
The real issue for me, from the business standpoint, isn't that Google acted irresponsibly, which they have. It's that they have a near monopoly on search traffic. This is something we've all gotten used to over the last five or six years, but I still remember the old days when search engines rose and fell each year, and if one didn't like you, another did.
So it's not just a question of hoping to recover from Panda, either through waiting or through reworking, it's also realizing that the Google monopoly is unlikely to hold up in the long run. It's not like Windows or Office, where there's hardware or collaboration involved. Search remains a stand-alone function, as much as Google would like to change it with Plus:-) A new search engine, or even Bing, could knock Google from the top just by having a good viral promotion or spending a few hundred million of clever Super Bowel commercials.
I'm routing for one with monkeys and laser pointers - I laugh even thinking about that one.