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We have been at this since 1998 and have ecomm sites with over 200,000 products - no affiliate, adsense, reciprocals, purchased links, local issues or black hat. We have 1,000's of natural inbound links. Repeat customers represent over 50% of our sales. 6 pageviews per visit (not bad for ecomm). We were never touched by any of the major updates (ie Florida etc.).
We have been absolutely bludgeoned in the last couple of months - google organic referrals are down 50-70% (depending on which hour you check). Most all of our losses have come from our long tail keywords.
Obviously this isn't just an everflux spike or a silly mistake some young engineer made. It's clear that google actually thinks that they have improved the index. With this in mind, I have started issuing the pink slips.
A sad day for me....
Google is "Free" traffic.
Any and all search engine traffic should be looked at as a bonus to your other marketing efforts.
If you’re making millions a year from “free” search engine traffic, just keep in mind, it could end without warning.
Always remember…it's just a bonus and concentrate on other ways of marketing.
I love free search engine traffic. It's really profitable. But the rules can change anytime and cause lots of stress when they do. Google Stress is the worst.
Old fashion direct-response type marketing is stable and reliable, “if you're good at it”, and have the money to pay for it. (postcards, mailings, fliers, ppc, copywriting, affiliate programs, etc.)
Maybe some of it will come back. Maybe not. I plan to put more stock in social network traffic and return blog traffic, building a bigger repeat audience vs. depending on SERP traffic. As long as you have enough to live on, you still have a chance to make it work.
I know it's hard on the guys / gals who your giving pink slips to but it must be hard for you as well , sometimes you have to be quite brutal to survive.
I hope it turns round for you I suspect your doing it early enough to still be able to survive and prosper long term
Best of Luck
The internet does not stay still and more competition comes along. If you do free serps you have to keep up with what is happening in google and adapt.
I would take a look at your internal linking first and then start buying links to your most important product pages to start clawing your way back.
Good luck but this will make you stronger. I also think you have nothing to lose by flouting google's policy on "buying links" because witout links you will be handing out more redundancies.
Having said that, however, it does get my goat to see some of the crap that is now ranking. It seems like a few hard-nut SEOs have worked out how to play the new algo/s like a fiddle:-(
Unfortunately the number of sad days is showing exponential growth these days and the Google implosion continues. I hope things recover soon for both you sand me.
Personally, I think that it is about time that people stopped referring to the notion of 'free' traffic from Google given the countless hours of valuable time that people spend trying to comprehend something that at present defies comprehension. So for those of you enjoying free traffic, how much did 'free' actually cost you? How about we all charge Google for 'our' time in trying to comply with 'their' rules?
Just in-case you (or someone reading this) is not sure, enter the text above into the google search box.
p.s. I meant "free" in term of money paid to google for search engine rankings. You pay them "no" money. You do put in long hard hours building your site.
[edited by: Phil_S at 2:20 pm (utc) on Mar. 14, 2007]
my site has lost traffic and rebounded many times over. Each time I dig deep, educate myself and revamp at least one major page design component.
we were 90% dropped in supplemental hell in mid-06, we are still 100% dropped from image search (used to get 50% traffic from that alone), but still even after these dips, revenues are either steady or always climbing.
You have to keep reinventing yourself. Plus, I also use earnings at the lowest figure over the past 12 months when I want to do any improvements to the site or justify any improvement to my life.
For examples, GNC could be interested in knowing what kind of vitamins or other related products people are searching for, and G will offer them such data that they gather while people actually searched and found our sites.
Now, if you have implemented Google analytics in your site, think how much is Google actually gathering from your site to be offered to gorilla competitors in the future.
And, if your are using the "one year free" payment system that Google now offers, not only they know what surfers search for on their search engine, but also know what people actually buy after they search, and how much they pay. So if you are a software company using Google analytics, and Google payment system, all that data in nicely packed and sold to the best bidder like IBM, or MSFT, or ORCL or who knows whoever has large pockets.
Our sites are now going up and down for the reasons mentioned above, and because they have to make money through Adwords, their only real revenue channel, so if you have an excellent site, with excellent products, have been online for more than five years, you probably have a deeper pocket than the newer sites, so Google is now saying "please share your revenue with us, we need to keep our investors happy."
"It's nothing personal, it is business. You don't like my business, you don' like my services, you live in a free country, go to the store in front of the street."
from david to goliath
The internet does not stay still and more competition comes along.
Yes..and your toughest competitors are the Search Engines themselves and their own revenue initiatives..!
The engines know that they are leaving $$Billions$$ of dollars on the table through the organic listings...great revenue ops for them...
I really feel for your predicament. I also understand the reason google has for updating its algos.....however, I do think Google could handle massive drops in established websites' traffic in a much more responsible fashion.
If they opened up communications a bit more or if they had some sort of arbritrations forum (where you could pay for your site review) this would really help.
E.g in my business after 7 years trying to diversify we still get 85% of our business from google. Planning my staffing levels, office lease requirements and even personal finances if a very tricky thing to do when you have the "Sword of Damocles" over your head.
With the here today gone tomorrow nature of the serps if things were more stable I could plan better, serve customers better and improve my website further. IMHO by constantly changing algos and affecting the traffic of long established websites, without a suitable forum for rectifying things, google is inadvertently contributing to the reduction of website/e-commerce standards.
PS - i don't wish to critise google too heavily here. I do think on the whole they do a great job and have effectively paid my mortgage for the last 8 years. And I really do see that occasionally they have to break eggs in order to make omelettes but some sort of appeals system would really help the e-commerce business owner.
PPS - Wingslevel, I wish you the best of luck.
Any "business" who's financial existence depends on an internet search engine has to expect that they could cease operations at any moment.
And that's the problem. To expect to cease operations means to not invest adequetely in your site/admin/warehouse/staff/premises and thereby reduce the quality of what you do. This can't be good for e-commerce.
The alternative is to not take those orders, you know that right? It takes inventory, people and systems to fill orders.
He's laying off people, that's his contigency plan.
I run an e-com company and over the years I have dealt with CEOs and e-commerce VPs of many top 500 internet retailers. Excluding a company which owns TV channels, none could survive the loss of over 50% of their organic traffic without having to lay people off. And all would be quite unhappy about such an occurence.
Wingslevel - Mind PMing your URL?
... I really do see that occasionally they have to break eggs in order to make omelettes but some sort of appeals system would really help the e-commerce business owner.
What exactly would you appeal? The fact that your ranking has changed, and you're now on page 7?
An appeal system for penalties is one thing (and Google does have a mechanism in place for reinclusion requests by owners of penalized sites). Rankings are a different matter: If you've slipped to page 7 because Google has tweaked its algorithm--i.e., changed its ranking priorities--it's hard to see what an appeal mechanism could accomplish.
For a long established white hat site with a drop to page 7 such an appeal (or review) may bring to light some unforeseen issues in the algo to the engineers. Yes they need not give a response or any help at all but if there IS a problem, or commonalities between sites who may have suffered a similar problem, it may help them diagnose and remedy the problem. A paid review can help offset costs for reviews with possible responses.
What exactly would you appeal? The fact that your ranking has changed, and you're now on page 7?
pretty much, yes. If i was ranking at #1 and now I'm at #4 that's fine I could probably deal with that. Simply reevaluate what I'm doing and change organically. To go from #1 to page 7 not only seems crazy from a ranking point of view (i.e how can a legit page that did rank so well instantly be disregarded) but it would also be very damaging to most businesses.
In this eventuality some form of communication with google would be very useful, perhaps vital.
I wouldn't be concerned about a single page either but a site as a whole to get knocked out. That would be more of a review situation.
a) Don't put all your eggs in one basket. My site currently has very high rankings, but I want to kick off an effective PPC campaign soon. Not only will it make more money for me, but it will help diversify the business.
b) Don't try and spam Google. 200,000 products is not natural. 200,000 pretty much means that you are just copying the supplier descriptions (ie duplicate content).
I too have about 60,000 unique products, all downloaded from wholesalers. However, I robots.txt these out, as they are mostly dupe content that if indexed, would not provide a searcher much benefit.
However, I also have about 200 of my own, unique products that only I sell. These take time to photograph, videotape, write descriptions and present to the user so they actually want to buy the product.
I also supplement my content with blog and vlog posts and company wiki entries.
If you plan to survive without Google traffic, at least acknowledge what that scenario truly looks like. It means attempting to live on whatever small crumbs manage to fall your way, without the web as a means of getting customers. You could, of course, pay into Google's black hand the extortions it determines at its capricious whims in service of its rapacious greed - having now completely rigged what began as a true open auction environment.
Let's not kid ourselves. Relying upon dead treeware ads, postcard snailmailings, "opt-in" (tee hee, that's a larf) spam broadcasts and that huge product-blog following which exists in your fantasies alone, means you're going to go back to being a brick-and-mortar enterprise, albeit one that happens to have an available server-based catalog and ordering interface.
The real tragedy will come when Netizens search for a unique product, at a great price, offered by small specialty retailers, and the only serps delivered will be whichever huge multinational entities can drive a dumptruck full of cash to Google's door.
Google figured out how to monetize the web - and how. Don't hold your breath for it to voluntarily self-impose ethical limitations on its avarice, a la Craig Newmark. Just wait til that bad quarterly earnings report comes along, as it always inevitably does, and revenue takes a little nosedive. Wait til the stock price takes a precipitous dip and shareholders scream for Goog to desperately produce more earnings per share.