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It doesn't seem quite right to be so dependant on one single resource as from my companies point of view we suffered terribly last month with the index reshuffle. Has anyone out there had any luck diversifying the leads they get through across the different search engines or should we all just accept that Google is the biggest player so the only one worth worrying about?
We've participated in PPI for engines such as Ask Jeeves and have over 200 backlinks for the various spiders to follow but still no real traffic from anybody other than Google. I would like to hear from people who have managed to gain a sizable number of hits from the alternative engines such as Altavista & Ask Jeeves and how they managed it.
Is a bit off, since Altavista doesn't really provide anybody traffic. The alternatives to Google are mostly:
MSN (directory & PPC & Inktomi)
What you need to do is look at *everything* that could provide an ROI, then do tracking systems that analyze all the data flowing through your website.
Sure, I don't like being dependent on Google, so I'm not. For one site, I've got great "word of mouth" and the volume of people that simply type in the domain name is much better than any search engine's referrals (those are nice too, just not as large). ;) And nope, didn't do any offline marketing, just viral.
*if* you are interested in diversifying your internet marketing strategy, then you need to open your eyes to everything that isn't Google.
Just make sure any paid avenue you chose provides an acceptable ROI.
You can get a lot of traffic from paid sources. Obviously the best source depends on where you are and what you sell. I think we get about 20% of paid traffic from Findwhat and Espotting combined. Not bad for a couple of no-names. I also find that paid traffic gives MUCH better results in terms of sales. Unfortunately Google is still the boss, but their Adwords program is very fair and allows even lower priced ads to get a showing, albeit less often.
I think you'll also be seeing some changes soon now Yahoo is nearly sure to boot Google out as their free SERPs provider later this year. If you start optimising your site for Inktomi, you'll most likely be right on the money when things heat up.
Looking back at the last 6 months, 33% of the referring domains for my main site is from non search engine sources. IMO, this reflects the true value of links.
35% has been from Google
15%, from Yahoo, 10% from MSN and the rest from AOL, AV, Hotbot, etc.
This has changed dramatically though in the past 2 months. While my overall traffic is up about 10%, MSN referrals has been slowly increasing and now equal Google, each acounting for 30%, with Yahoo at about 10%. Links still account for about 25%.
I wish I could take credit and say I did something specific, but the truth is I havent done a thing since just before Dominic. With Google making changes, I didnt want to over react, over seo or out-guess, so I stood pat with a site that serves the purpose of my users. I think this longterm, consistent approach is the only way to really win. SE algos be damned.
With multiple SE balls in play, the next several months will be volatile, so if you are a company site that can't afford to rely on the whims of free serps, then Adwords and Overture are the only guaranteed traffic.
Having run a site for six months I am consistently finding that 90% of my traffic comes from Google (including Google adwords) and the remaining 10% from other search engines and directories.
If, however, you are saying 90% of your Search Engine traffic comes from Google, well, that is different. I say diversify. I never get doing Adwords when you already get good Google traffic, particularly NOT if you don't get much traffic from MSN. I say, look @ Overture, eve Look$mart. Diversify as much as possible, that is the key.
<edit>typos typos typos</edit>
I have checked my position regularly in the other major players. In most cases I have the same if not better positioning. In the last week one of the more active sites has had 3 visitors from Altivista, 1 from LookSmart, 1 from Lycos. This site is number one across the board in all of these engines for the primary keyphrase of this site.
Unless you have one heck of an advertising campaign, are a major name like Walmart or something, or you just have an obscene about of back links, good luck getting traffic from something other than Google.
The only time I have ever seen anything give me better traffic than Google was a Niche Directory for a Niche site.
<added> I would like to make one finaly note. There could be a ray of hope, if you want to call it that, I am starting to get competing hits from MSN. However, should MSN pull off their toe to toe with Google and win, I am not sure how confortable I would be with them at the Helm of SEs. </added>
As long as those 90% give you good business, then you have to make an effort to increase site hits not %.
This is not an investment portfolio...this is advertising, spend more in places which are used by your future/old customers.
There have been a few posts about this recently; and at the end of the day it comes down to your own perception risk and how you manage that risk.
There is a chance that Google will be gone tomorrow, or if not gone, suddenly move to a paid inclusion model for top SERP. You don't know.
It may be a risk that you are willing to take. If you are not willing to take it then you must work to ensure sufficient referrals from other sources in order that you can still eat if Google goes titsup.
My personal opinion is that I would be happy to bet 100% of my income on Google's existence and free traffic were I to be a sole trader, but if your businesses has grown sufficiently large to be taking on employees then I don't really think there is any need to be relying on Google.
Remember that hundreds of businesses in different industries rely completely on other companies for their own survival, there's nothing new or unique about the dotcom / Google situation.
- Google 5034
- MSN 2191
- Yahoo 1174
- AltaVista 416
- Google (Images) 344
- Other search engines 146
- AOL 141
- Lycos 60
- Netscape 31
- Looksmart 18
- Excite 14
- Overture 14
- AllTheWeb 11
- DMOZ 10
Altavista seems to be getting better each month, so while others are writing them off, they've now got significant enough to bother about for me. The high MSN traffic is partially due to a lot of Zeal entries - one of the advantages of being a non-commercial site. While I have had pages in Ask/Teoma, it's never been many, so I can't comment on their effectiveness. The site has been spidered for free in AllTheWeb/Ink etc...
These are the stats from the site in my profile, so feel free to roam around. It's optimised for Google, but ranks well in the others.
The only things I'd recommend are keyword rich internal text links, good quality back links and lots of content - but I guess you've got this sorted anyway if you're ranking well in Google. Try using a keyword research tool to expand the phrases your optimising for, even if you're just dropping them in your title tags.
Nmsdesign's comment about concentrating on your best current referers is only half the story. That's akin to only optimising for your product name because that's how most of your customers find you. It might be because you rank highly on your product name and not for anything else.
Some very good comments above for you to read through, my suggestions are this. Pay for a few pages into Inktomi, keep looking for new links to your site, keep up Ad-Words but check that you are not buying keywords or phrases that you already are top 10 for in Google, look at Overture PPC.
- Google 77%
- Yahoo 18 %
- AOL 1.2%
- Other search engines .75%
- MSN .75%
- Netscape .34%
- Virgilio .16%
- Kvasir .07%
Unfortunately I am very reliant on the 'Google/Yahoo/AOL' partnership as you can see. Looks like I need to do some more MSN optimising and submit a few more pages to Zeal - that worked for a while when my Google hits weren't so good - maybe I can get their visits beating AOL again :-) My problem with Ask Jeeves is that it won't index any of my pages with url strings - I'm not willing to fix it just for them considering my results will likely be behind a lot of paid results anyway!
Diversifying isn't much of an option because the other search engines just don't generate enough traffic. For example I'm #3 for my main keyword on Altavista (3 places higher than on Google), but so far this month I've had 34 visitors from AV for that word, while Google has given me close to 800.
For me, word of mouth and links are the way to go. One site that links to me gives me five times the traffic that AV does.
Look to non-SE sources. I'm now up to 3 links that each give me over 1000 referrals a month and a few more that are closing in on 1000. Sending out newsletters and sponsoring forums can lead to a lot of traffic.
Diversify your site within Google. Don't be dependant on your "main big important" keyword. If you lose that one keword you are screwed. Don't be dependant on any particulare page in your site either, as the missing index threads clearly show.
Diversify your number of sites. Have a few different active sites around to save your butt in case the main site gets pulled. They can sell the same thing, related items or even totally different things. They can be informational sites that are realted to your main site that have sponsoring banners pointing back to your main site. In that case you would at least be advertising on a page that would be getting good results.
I have to say I am a little concerned about on overdependence on one major source of web site traffic.
For one, there might a wealth of info and opportunity out here one might miss (search data etc)
What is latest on that story in the Wall Street Journal about rivals positioning themselves to take on Google in the searchsphere?
Makes for competitive and more efficient search alternatives, I think.
Thinking about PPI on Yahoo and Looksmart to diversify my results.
1. search.msn.com 78
2. search.msn.nl 8
3. www.google.com 4
4. search.yahoo.com 2
5. search.netscape.com 1
6. www.google.ca 1
7. webferret.search.com 1
These are SE traffic out of last 100 visitors
(I have cheap stats (free))
Its like this for a couple of days in a row already.
I think its kind of amazing what MSN is bringing in.
Again, the words "fed up" are a bit extreme... :)
It might be possible to guess why it happens, but its almost completely impossible to do optimize that makes a lasting impact.
Just try and make the experience good for your user and hope that they come back, and develop quality links, quality relatinoships, etc, and don't sweat the rest..
I not here to bad mouth anyone but I keep seeing the same things, look for other ways of getting traffic besides Google. OK then if you get good links from other sites then where exactly does their traffic come from?
I think everyone is dependent on Google in one way or another, however when Yahoo start serving up Ink results the "search engine world" will change and everyone had better hope that they rate equally well within Inktomi. I guess we will just have to wait and see what MS comes up with.
I think another title for the thread is "I don't know how to optimize pages for inclusion in engines other than Google" or "Why I don't pay for inclusion"
Any way you spin it - Google is providing the majority of traffic for a lot of us. The trick is for us not to forget that we need to have plans to fall back on if Google isn't there tomorrow.
Gotta run now ... Googlebot is visiting :)
Very good comments by BigDave.