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Don't put all your eggs Google's Basket

Diversify your web referrals and sleep better at night.

     

lgn

11:45 pm on Sep 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

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This is the first time I experience seeing the great panic when Google's does it page updates.

The important thing is not to concentrate on one search engines but to diversify your sources for web traffic. This often takes time and effort but is well worth it.

We are ranked #1 and #2 for our favorite keywords in Google (well #2 and #3 now), and we receieve approx. 5 to 7% web traffic from Google.

I remember when we first started, and we recieved 40% of our traffic from Yahoo. I did lose sleep at night wondering if my ranking would drop.

Now I don't care. I have so many sources for traffic, that if one dry's up, the other will open its flood gates. Once you have a large number of referral sources, the laws of statistical averages take over. I use a general rule of thumb, that if more than 10% of your referrals come from one search engine or source, you need to find more sources.

And perhaps you will be able to sleep better at night, despite what Google does.

11:48 pm on Sept 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

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check your logs, how many % of your traffic comes from google or yahoo? that much huh, thats why we love google!

(and let's not start about meta engines, you know how many engines use google? i know at least 5 dutch ones!)

11:53 pm on Sept 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Ign,

If Google only provides 4-5% of your traffic for keywords that sit in the top 5, then perhaps you aren't targeting the proper keywords.

The majority of my clients who have "all their eggs in one basket" haven't done that by choice. They rank well across all engines. But still, 60-80% of their SE traffic comes from Google.

The concentrate on other engines strategy is great if your demographic group actually uses other engines, but for many that isn't the case.

If you enjoy balanced traffic across multiple engines, you should feel very lucky because that isn't the case for most.

11:59 pm on Sept 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

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What other engines? Google has world domination!

In all seriousness, I truly feel for all those here that are experiencing what I have for experienced for the past 5 months; that is, falling off the Google radar screen.

Take heart, stiff upper lip & all that. I have survived (barely), and so will you. Take this time to reverse engineer the sites that are now ranking well. For the last several months, it seems that some very spam-filled sites have ranked well on Google. Something new is making sites rank well, and whatever this new element is, chances are it will remain 'the' factor for everal months to come.

lgn

12:00 am on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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My figures are based on normalized results, including removing adwords and other biases.

Im not trying to put down Google, but to encourage diversification of sources for web referrals.

Sasquatch

12:05 am on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Ign never said SE traffic, he said traffic. If he goes out and gets really good, relevant links, I would not be surprised if most of his traffic comes from other places than google.

If you were a car dealer and you could somehow wrangle a deal where you were linked as the dealer to by from on the home page of Ford, GM and Toyota, I would bet that you would consider your google results to be a small percentage of your business.

In my case, the good rankings on google is mostly to impress manufacturers into linking to our site. That is where the incredibly relevant surfers will come from.

Note to Eds. Real companies used to demonstrate point. As the above would never happen I hope it is okay.

12:44 am on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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the only thing i would say to this is that recently inktomi has changed fairly dramtically, perhaps in response to losing aol and rumoured financial problems.
Instead of "you pay for one page we only spider 1 page" inktomi is now following links and my msn traffic has really gone up as a result.
3:51 am on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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yes, I wholeheartedly support the "don't bet the farm on google" strategy.

I still have domains that are 'grey' page ranked after 4-5 months. I've posted messages & stick mail to Googleguy. I've posted in the Google newsgroup and I've written them email.

They just don't have time to answer me AT ALL. Reminds me of DMOZ/ODP sometimes. Just too damn "into themselves" sometimes. A 30 second "form letter" type of reply telling me to piss off would've been preferrable to months of silence.

Yeah, google is very relevant with their results. But others can copy the model (that's what happens when they patent things like pagerank!)

The google algorithm is only as good as those who program the logic. And sometimes business and political decisions DO come into play.

[I just am too capitalistic I s'pose!]

FOLLOW THE MONEY! Look$mart has cash flow, as does OverTure, Inktomi and Yahoo! ISPs/ball-n-chain configurations for newbies (AOL, Compuserve, WebTV, MSN, etc.) also have cash!

Google has their work cut out for them if they want to go head to head with Microsoft, Inktomi, AltaVista, Look$mart, Overture, etc.

5:29 am on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I was about to reply, but Sasquatch stole my lines :)
6:29 am on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I understand, perfectly what IGN says. I lost a lot once when Google did a re-balancing/refresh act, and I did not get back to my previous ranking with it for about a month or maybe even two. And never understood, in the interim, why I had even lost that ranking, since it did come back, just exactly as it was before, though I did nothing in that time to change the site -- and it stays there now.

But I live in dread of the day another unexplicable event like that which occured a year or year and a half ago, comes along again on Google, and you do not know why --- but all of a sudden you are not there, and there is no answer from Google as to why.

But the fact is: Like it or not, despite what all have said before this in prior posts here, for me at least -- Google is it. The only other one is Yahoo. I see nothing in between those two that count.

It would be nice to see Teoma or WiseNut, or even Fast (which I think has given up the competition) give some competition to Google as my ranking on them is about what it is on Google, but I see no sign of that happening. Does anyone?

I mean, those folks at Google seem to have planned everything out, to the nth degree. Now Google "is": Yahoo, AOL and Netscape. The only thing it is not is MSN, which has to have one of the lousiest SERPS on the planet. I don't think LS Direcory or Inktomi are any real competition. Does anyone?

So -- where do we all go from here?

mat

6:32 am on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Yes, obviously sage advice, but as WebGuerrilla points out, the generally accepted figure of 60-80% from Google in its various guises is not something that we've worked for - it's arrived by default and we now fret to keep it in place.

I just don't see that massive effort to cover other bases is going to help at present; if someone reaches for Google's crown then we'd be well placed to be sitting well in the SERPs for said victor, but this is all hypothetical. If your numbers from Google are really that proportionally low, then your case is far from standard.

I would still suspect that you're getting more from Google than you think. Sure, if your logs are showing large percentages from other SE's and directories, then bravo, you really are in a good position should things begin to change (for now, I would personally worry a great deal about such a low Google figure - I don't see them losing the plot anytime now) - but if your traffic is coming from 'general' sites, then how do you think people are finding them in the first place?

I doubt very much that they are going straight to these sites. If you're getting traffic from links on themed sites then I'll bet a large chunk of the farm on the fact that people are finding said themed sites courtesy of Google.

Google may not drive traffic to your front door, but it usually calls the taxi. Mat

[edited by: mat at 7:59 am (utc) on Sep. 27, 2002]

6:42 am on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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What do we work on? Same as ever ...

- We develop quality pages for our sites
- We work on drumming up quality links
- We hunt for cost-effective paid advertising
- We encourage visitors to bookmark our sites and tell their friends
- We build our mailing lists

- More ideas welcome ...

Sasquatch

7:11 am on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Google is *capable* of driving more traffic to your site than any other single source. There is no argument there. But if you get enough good sources, you can make her a minor player even while you increase your traffic from her.

But if you count clicks, I do a lot more of my traveling around using my bookmarks than I do using google. I probably visit almost as many sites from slashdot as I do from google.

Back before popups caused me to block all ads, I even regularly followed interesting banner ads, and sometimes (shock) bought something!

When I was looking to put together a low power firewall box recently I went to the site of the manufacturer who's board I want to use and followed links to a site that sells the board.

I get a huge percentage of what I consider to be interesting links from listserves that I am on. Google fails horribly on searches for some materials for home made outdoor equipment.

Now, what does Google tell you to do to get better results? Go out and get quality, relevant links from relevant sites. If you follow this advice it will reward you twofold. It will improve your ranking in Google, and you now have high quality links from quality sites.

If you can't get those links, you probably aren't relevant. You may 'trick' google for a while, then feel cheated when she takes your ranking away. But in reality, you really aren't that relevant, until someone else honestly decides that you are relevant and gives you good links.

7:43 am on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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>Google is *capable* of driving more traffic to your site than any other single source. There is no argument there. But if you get enough good sources, you can make her a minor player even while you increase your traffic from her. <

Sasquatch:

I wish I could agree re: "you can make her a minor player even while you increase your traffic from her." But I really don't see that as a possibility.

Google and Yahoo, with Google primary, drive all the traffic that counts to my commercial retail site. I can't see how to make either a minor player, and certainly not Google. If I lost my postion on it, I would have to buy it. I have no doubt about it. Nothing else would substitute. 90% of my customers tell me, verbally on the phone, and/or in writing on the form on which they place their order: where did they come from?

"Google Search." And these are not web techies, or search aholics, just average consumers on the web. Most of my customers are housewifes or working women.

Google done done it. It will be hard to beat their rep now they have won so many faithful converts in the consumer on line search world.

Bookmarks & links only go so far -- major traffic is from SEs and the one SE in this world now is Google - it feeds Yahoo and AOL, the two other biggies in consumer/retail searching. Only real question, I think, is will any other new SE like Teoma or WiseNut come along to challenge?

It would be hard, as Google now has a rep, & I think, a good bit of loyalty for the time being, not only among the cognecseti (sp?) but also with the average consumer.

7:53 am on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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being, not only among the cognecseti (sp?) but also with the average consumer

WebStart, that would be "cognoscenti", and of course, I used Google to verify the correct spelling :)

8:08 am on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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If this update is to teach us anything (I did get 70% of all traffic from Google), It's that you can't build a purely internet based business and ever sleep well. My clients business is 80% dependant on the internet...

I think it's going to be back to the drawing board for some major marketing brain storming.

Break into the market through the internet and then establish yourself as a bricks and mortar company.

Am I over reacting? I don't think so, bearing in mind it will take 1 week to know for sure what the new algo is, another week working flat out to change the site, by which point you would have missed the next months update and loose (if you're lucky) only 2 months business. That will seriously damage cash flow.

9:12 am on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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90% of my customers tell me, verbally on the phone, and/or in writing on the form on which they place their order: where did they come from?

"Google Search."

Of course.

If you have good rankings in Google for your targeted keywords, and haven't successfully cultivated other avenues for reaching your target market...

where else would your customers be coming from?

That doesn't mean that there are not enormous well-springs of revenue out there that you're not tapping.

I have the privilege of knowing at least a dozen savvy internet marketers that are making between one and five hundred thousand dollars a year... from home... with no staff... no overhead... and no search engine traffic whatsoever.

Every single one of them feels that Search Engine marketing is just too volatile and unstable a foundation to rest their success upon, and while I personally have a somewhat different view, I can completely understand where they are coming from.

I see too many people that are unable to think outside of the search engine box.

Unless your target audience is first time internet users there are countless other avenues for reaching targeted prospects and customers for virtually any market niche.

I'm not suggesting that you abandon SEO as a vehicle for reaching new customers, but do not underestimate the power of establishing Joint Ventures with web sites and businesses that are already reaching your target market.

A recommendation or endorsement from a source that is already trusted by your target market has the potential to provide a higher ROI and conversion ratio than any other single form of marketing... Search Engine or otherwise.

9:55 am on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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> establishing joint ventures with websites

Well, this translates to links, doesn't it? We all do links already, if not for traffic then for PR boost.

But you are very right - there are alternatives to SE traffic - cpm, cpc, revenue sharing (affiliate) programs. Their common denominator is that they tend to be more costly than SEO, often done in-house at relatively low cost.

While this update is ok for me, I am off to study threads about how to design a successful affiliate program now. In 6 months will report the results here:)

10:18 am on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Diversifying is the soundest principle. I have a local site that holds the #1 and #2 positions for the two most relevant phrases. I had anticipated that MSN would deliver a ton of traffic but is only delivering around 3%. AOL delivers 2%, but Yahoo! is consistently delivering a whopping 30-40% and Google the same. Diversifying may be the only way to know your target audience.
10:22 am on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Knowing Google delivers around 1/3 of my traffic tells me a good chunk of my target audience uses Google. Though I do not put all my eggs in the Google carton, I do give its due attention.
10:39 am on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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>The majority of my clients who have "all their eggs in one basket" haven't done that by choice. They rank well across all engines. But still, 60-80% of their SE traffic comes from Google.

My site tends to as well, and even better, in just about any search engine worth mentioning for the main keywords that are important. However, the clear majority of my site's SE traffic is from Google/Yahoo/AOL. My eggs are in all the SE baskets. However, the basket the users tend to choose is Google. ;)

10:41 am on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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> establishing joint ventures with websites

Well, this translates to links, doesn't it? We all do links already, if not for traffic then for PR boost.

Reciprocal linking as it is most often done amongst the PageRank mad masses is far from a true Joint Venture.

I'll take a simple endorsement over a snippet of HTML buried on someone's link page any day of the week.

There are countless forms of far more effective Joint Ventures ranging from a personal recommendation, written by a savvy marketer, e-mailed out to a loyal attentive audience, or presented at a point of purchase...

All the way through to comprehensive, mutually beneficial, partnerships that can include co-branding at virtually every point of contact both online and off.

Apart from affiliate programs, all of the other options you mentioned above are advertising mediums.

That's a painfully limited view on what's possible in the way of reaching an audience.

Joint Ventures and many other very effective reaching out methods don't necessarily have to cost a thing (think Publicity for one) so long as they provide a win / win / win situation for both you, your potential partner, and your customers.

Think about how you can leverage the most out of each and every single thing involved in your business... and if you're stuck for ideas then look to those who make a living inspiring others to think outside the box and take their business to a higher level.

Jay Abraham, Jay Conrad Levinson ,Jim Rohn, and Bob Burg are just a handful right off the top of my head.

There are a hundred ways to skin a cat... Google's only one of them.

11:23 am on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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11:38 am on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I admit it. I have too many eggs in the Google basket. I lost sites on one of our server from Google after the Sprint outage earlier this year (at least that was the general conclusion). It cost me (as in our customers) over 100,000 visitors. Not good.

The problem for me is that most of those sites can't afford to buy the volume PPC, and Google is by far the biggest game in town.

Apart from Google (and partners), the best source of quality traffic to our sites comes from other sites.

11:51 am on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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>Diversifying is the soundest principle. I have a local site that holds the #1 and #2 positions for the two most relevant phrases. I had anticipated that MSN would deliver a ton of traffic but is only delivering around 3%. AOL delivers 2%, but Yahoo! is consistently delivering a whopping 30-40% and Google the same. Diversifying may be the only way to know your target audience.

For me, Google #1, Yahoo #2, AOL #3, and MSN a respectable #4. My site(s) do pretty well on any SE worth mentioning at the moment. My strength at MSN may be helped significantly because both my sites are in Looksmart via Zeal. This means that on the main keywords I'm right at the top of page 1, and hard to miss.

12:36 pm on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I think we should tell it to the searchers.

Increasingly they are using Google, either at Google or at a partner site. I think most of us would love to diversify further but it also depends on the surfer too not just us.

Frankly, the surfing public will not use other search engines unless we tell them about them. If you rank really well on SE X and SE Y maybe you should recommend those to your visitors - tell people there are other SE's besides Google and MSN.

I would love for surfers to use some other search engines - unfortunately most of the major SE's keep shooting themselves in the foot.

Sure diversifying is nice but you also have to get the searchers to diversify.

lgn

3:21 pm on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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We been in business 5 years and this is our breakdown of web referrals:

Major Search Engines 25%

Direct links to our site via bookmarks, bulletin boards, etc. 32%.

Top 50 & 100 voting sites (popularity ladders) for our industry 17%

The remainder 26% are from the hundreds of links from sites that are relevent to our industry.

We hit the wall a couple of years ago. We were rated in the top 10 on all the major search engines, so we needed to look for other sources for growth.

With hard work and time, you to can sleep at night when Google makes its updates.

Sasquatch

4:00 pm on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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No one is arguing that you should not take google into account as the main SE. The suggestion is that you should spend some time looking into non-SE avenues of traffic.

Is there a listserv where people will regularly mention your site as the place to get blue widgets?

Do you have a competitor that is willing to link to your site because you sell the highest quality blue widgets, hand he only sells red and yellow widgets? Don't laugh too hard, it's more common than you think. Sticky me for examples if you don't believe me.

Is there an authoritative site on your subject that links to you in a prominent way?

And this stuff is all free! And often easier to get *if your site is worth going to*.

But there will always be types of websites that will need to rely primarily on SE, but a lot of the sites that do depend on it, don't really have to.

Sasquatch

4:03 pm on Sept 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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One more, when people set you to their startup page. Is your site good enough to have that happen?
3:30 pm on Sept 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I still can't imagine putting all the SEO eggs into one basket, no matter HOW GREAT google is. I don't care if they manage to drive in 99% of my traffic!

of course I want to have as many relevant google listings as possible... but that doesn't mean ignoring other options entirely.

example: if Yahoo! does switch back to inktomi listings wouldn't you rather be prepared that caught with your pants down?

just like the stock market... past performance is not indicative of future gains.

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