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Depending on Google has hurt businesses since at least 2002



3:21 am on Nov 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I took the liberty and dug up some post from 2002 and 2003.

[webmasterworld.com...] / 2002

[webmasterworld.com...] / 2003

Do an advanced search on google for webmasterworld and use the words layoff staff, dropped from Serps, going out of business, and see just how many and how long this has been going on.

What people are seeing as far as Google treating Websites poorly is not a new phenomenon and for those hoping it will clear up in Dec, Iíve got news for you. If it was going on in 2002 and continues to this day, I seriously doubt there is going to be a change any time soon.

The point of the post is if you sit around and wait for Google to change, youíre going to be an archived post for somebody else 3 years from now when their complaining about the exact same thing.


2:50 pm on Dec 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

here' fixed that for you:

martinibuster: Some people need a little nudge off the first page and encouragement.


3:04 pm on Dec 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Suggesting that businesses are short sighted because they use Google as a primary traffic source is simplistic. It might be nice in your niche to be able to do that, but quite frankly it's not true across the board.

I didn't suggest not to USE Google as a primary traffic source, if you have it. I state full out (not suggest) that is unwise to RELY on Google (or any single source that you don't control) as a primary traffic source. It's not a question of being simplistic, it's just a bad business plan, period. (Unless your only goal is take what you can get and then get out - then more power to you.)

But if your business can't survive without it, and you want to STAY in that business, you need to make some changes - either to your marketing or your business plan. Saying it's not an option for some businesses doesn't make it any less risky.

Google is not a retirement plan. Unless you work there. (Maybe not even then)


11:40 am on Dec 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

This thread is great.

Just to refer back to the OP, our site was lauched in 2001. 99% of early growth was Google, and we're now a multi-million pound company. We are now diversified, and have Sales teams and are just beginning to gainfully exploit SM (VERY late to that party). But the fact remains, this small business thrived on Google.

We've watched competitors outgrow us, only to die; others just fall behind in the ranking arms race; others price themselves too low to survive. Our success has been a blend of Business planning, content authoring, and SEO.

Keeping records of competitors (I mean spreadsheets here people), ranking, movements, deep churn, non-related niches, adjacent niches, individual page referrals, sectional ranking changes is a key part of what we do.

Referral logs, visitor behaviour analysis, subtly varied hierachial structure and Title composition. These are the tools we use to make our site 'robust' to intermittant SERP disruption.

It would be hard, if not impossible, for a non-targetted algo change to take out our entire site. But if it did, our direct traffic would just about pay our non-wage outgoings, and our sales people should still be able to turn an operating profit.

Google is not responsible for the economic doldrums. If your neck of the woods is looking messy, most are not. For every bad SERP (and there are plenty), there are 20 or 50 that are good, and 5 or 10 that are great.


1:38 am on Dec 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Some variation of this thread appears at least annually. And the truth remains the same:
There are a limited number of Google 'spots' for each query, often for every 'first page' result shown, perhaps a hundred make the 'short list' and a million do not. The odds are not good for most sites in many niches.

The same holds true for every SE.

Therefore, the value ratio of content:traffic will always favour the SEs. Whether to allow/deny specific SE bots to all/some/none of a site is as much a business decision as is whether/how best to optimise for a specific SE. What works for one niche or business model may not for another.

I only have information sites. I sell absolutely nothing directly. However, from the beginning the sites were created with diverse traffic and revenue sources in mind. Yes, there were initial defaults, i.e. Google and AdSense, but the goal has always been to decrease the defaults' percentage of traffic/revenue while maintaining/increasing their absolute values.

Has it been easy? No.
Has it been worth it? Yes.
Eg: if Google and all it's products disappeared tomorrow I would lose perhaps a third of traffic and a quarter of revenue. What I would not lose is most of my income or any of my sleep.

Diversification takes planning and work. It is a business decision, nothing else. Whether the right choice is a matter of personal temperament and business model, time and circumstance.


7:05 pm on Dec 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member


if I may ask - when you say only one third of your traffic comes from Google - are you referring to first time-visitors? or do you have lots of repeat visitors?

if you have information sites only...are your other traffic sources mostly links(that actually lead to traffic)? I assume paid advertising probably isnt where you get all that other traffic from if you focus on information sites?

thanks - Im big on the traffic diversification topic, but hardly ever hear from anyone who has done it successfully, so you got me curious!


10:36 pm on Dec 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


Google traffic refers to the percentage of visitors from Google. As a general rule that means first time visitors but have reasonable evidence that some visitors 'navigate by SE' rather than via typing (or copy-paste) in the address bar/window or bookmarking.

Note: I transposed the traffic/revenue numbers in my post:

Eg: if Google and all it's products disappeared tomorrow I would lose perhaps a third of traffic and a quarter of revenue.

should read:
Eg: if Google and all it's products disappeared tomorrow I would lose perhaps a quarter of traffic and a third of revenue.

I do not advertise so no paid advertising traffic.
November traffic source breakout:
Direct (type-in, bookmark): ~7%
Google: ~24%
Other SEs: ~17%
Social Media: ~10% (includes YouTube)
Other sites: ~42%

Note: I have a number of sites and, unless otherwise stated, stats I post are averaged across all.

Ideally, I should like Direct to increase and Search to fall.
Realistically, I am working to shift more from Search (especially Google) to Social.
All decreases in overall traffic percentage only...do want to maintain/increase existing absolute traffic volumes. :)

almighty monkey

10:22 am on Dec 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I've SEO'ed for quite a range of clients on behalf of an agency since I got into this game two years ago.

Generally, the clients who became millionaires generate 60-70% of their traffic away from Google, and SEO represents one of several revenue streams.

The clients who are losing money came to me because 'they want to get on the interweb' and 'get some of that google money'.

Risk aside, why wouldn't you develop other revenue streams? Even if you could guarantee and secure a high ranking in Google, those other revenue streams still represent good money, surely?


6:12 pm on Dec 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Risk aside, why wouldn't you develop other revenue streams? Even if you could guarantee and secure a high ranking in Google, those other revenue streams still represent good money, surely?

Truer words were never spoken.

I am seeing better returns with Adwords* this Holiday Season than I have ever before.

This is partly due to the changes in googles algorithms forcing me to look into, and really become better at, other forms of customer acquisition.

*NOTE: I have had my clock cleaned by Adwords in the past, spending mucho dinero for little sales. So it has taken LOTS of trial and error to get it where it is a viable source of generating sales.

One interesting study I read was that by having an Adwords ad appear on the same SERP page as your natural listing, the clickthrough rates for the NATURAL listing often increase. People see the Adwords ad and might think it lends more credibility to the natural listing (maybe the natural listing doesn't have a particularly user-friendly title or description listed in the SERP).


7:06 pm on Dec 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Prior to building my e-commerce site, I worked for a Fortune 500 company. Before entering a new market or approving a new product development, the project manager had to make a strong case why this product would be in the top 3 for market share. If not, don't enter the business. Find something else you can succeed with.

Same goes for web based businesses, although the on-line marketplace is so large, you can probably relax that rule to say you should be in the top 8 or get out.

Whether Goggle remains #1 or not, the web is here to stay and someone will always be selling advertising (I think of Google as an ad company, not a search company). If you are in the pack of the top 8, you can afford to advertise. If not, consider doing something else that you can be successful at.

This game, as others here have pointed out, has been going on way before the www. It's just that the cost to establish an on-line business is so low in comparison to a B&M store, that we have many more players. As a result we have to expect a lot of failures.

It is sad though to see large companies drive small businesses out. My business provides custom-made products not available in large stores. There is no way I would try to compete with a commodity type product.



5:41 am on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I think this thread needs a resurrection. For one, I'd like to highlight this thread: Don't Take Google Results Personally [webmasterworld.com]


Somewhere in all the other recent comments about the Farm Update, there was a great post that also fits well in this thread. I can't locate it right now, so I'm not sure of the exact wording or even who said it - but here's my paraphrase:

If you're going to depend on the web for your livelihood, then you need a real business, with a business plan and all the seriousness that requires. If you only have "a website" and your income depends on search traffic - you are headed for possible heartbreak.
This 40 message thread spans 2 pages: 40

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