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Beyond Google SEO - is it time for a Career Change?

     
5:21 pm on Nov 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I think there is only so long you can bang your head against a brick wall. Maybe it's because I've been working on new sites and penalised sites - I don't know but I am not getting anywhere fast with Google SEO at present. I think it was Einstein that said...

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.


...and these results are driving me insane. So it is with regret that I think come the new year I need to drop out of SEO altogether. I guess I would define the work on SEO I do as part white hat part black hat, Grey Hat maybe, I kinda follow my own code of ethics.

  • I do build incoming links and attract linking (thats the black hat part since all link building is deemed black hat)
  • I build sites full of quality content and adhere to web standards (that's the white hat part)
  • I also build strong Social Media presence.


I simply cant afford to continue to devote so much time into something with so little reward. I have seen the SEO market collapse in the last few years in terms of income. I dont want to go down a churn and burn route, that works for some I know but its not for me. So I am at a crossroad, not sure which path to take. I am thinking of moving into mobile App development, has anyone made a similar move away from SEO?
7:49 pm on Nov 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I'm not getting out completely, but I now have a part-time job to make ends meet. My hourly rate (from the website) is 1/3rd of what my 12-year-old son earns on his paper round. I work from 6 am - 6 pm, 7 days a week, with breaks to walk the dog or do the basics around the house, and barely scrape through. I once earned enough to live comfortably, but not now. So a regular paying job became necessary to stay afloat.

I've felt bitter about what happened but that doesn't get you anywhere. Times have changed.
8:43 pm on Nov 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Times have changed.


They sure have, thanks for posting browndog and your honesty, perhaps when the market it is completely stagnant things will change - but that aint gonna pay the bills while we are waiting.
10:26 pm on Nov 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Exactly, I kept expecting Google to change back to how they were, and complaining, but that wasn't paying the bills.

I say this without bitterness but I no longer trust them because one day you can be ranking well and earning a living, the next day it can all come tumbling down. I found it hard to get work because I've worked for myself for so many years and had no references, but found a job with a friend just doing basic admin (which was my background years and years ago). 2.5 days a week, close to home, nice boss, steady income. The site will remain, and I will continue to work on it, but probably not as much as I have been. Maybe 2.5 days on the site and actually have weekends off. Because the amount of hours I've put in has impacted on my whole family.

I feel positive about the change. Sure, I'd have rather worked on my site full time, but it wasn't working and I've taken control of my life instead of whinging (not saying that is what you or I are doing in this thread).

Spread out your risks, that's what I learned.

Good luck seoskunk, I wish you all the best :)
6:57 am on Nov 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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SEO definitely has changed and I believe Penguin was the seminal turning point of the SEO industry. It now often takes at least a year with generous budget to have a decent presence on Google.

My strategy changed from working on retainer to affiliate after Penguin. I get into contract with manufacturers and share a commission on sales I deliver to them via SEO. This way I can channel my energy on a few select projects that will pay off manifolds compared to retainer based projects.

Going forward, I am planning to identify merchants ranking in the thirties and forties in commercial niches and help them to the first pages on affiliate model. It improves the success rate and reduces the turn-around time.

I still believe in SEO only the ways of doing things have changed, but the basics still remain the same.
11:08 am on Nov 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I am also getting out - or at least no longer spending the majority of my time working on my websites. No amount of clever SEO will bring informational websites back onto the first page in Google, if Google does not want those informational websites to be there.

I am also angry, as I was building websites since before Google existed and making a living from them before Google became dominant. But eventually I've had to accept that there is no financially viable future for me as a webmaster, and that I must spend my time more productively doing something else.

Your quote of "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." sums it up perfectly.
4:36 pm on Nov 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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SEO definitely has changed and I believe Penguin was the seminal turning point of the SEO industry.

I agree that the original Penguin rollout in April 2012 hit a lot of sites THAT MAINLY DEPENDED ON SEO for their rankings.

But from what I could see in those days, the earlier Panda rollout hit far more sites overall, and caused a much bigger shakeup of the web in general, than did the later Penguin.

In other words Penguin mainly hit sites that were heavily dependent on SEO, whereas Panda affected all kinds of sites.

Also, the current version of Penguin is apparently much more lenient than was the original. I'm not sure about the current version of Panda, how harsh it is now, or how big a role it still plays.
5:24 pm on Nov 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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We have a whole stack of threads around this topic, and there's a ton of things that can keep an SEO busy.

Is SEO Dead? [webmasterworld.com]
Keywords - Outdated or Still Critical? [webmasterworld.com]
Are Directories Dead in 2016? [webmasterworld.com]
How SEO Best Practices Became Irrelevant [webmasterworld.com]
I'm tired of the "Is SEO dead?" question [webmasterworld.com]
Changing nature of the SEO industry [webmasterworld.com]
Related on how burnout can occur when running a business alone: Burnout [webmasterworld.com]
Related, finding great ideas for a business: How to Find Ideas for a Web and Internet Service [webmasterworld.com]
Related on analytics, where an SEO becomes the expert How "Direct Traffic" May Be Undermining Your Marketing [webmasterworld.com]

And plenty of other threads around here.

SEO has changed over the years. Is there a place for it? Oh yes, there is. Are there the same opportunities for a site that there were in the past? Yes, there is, but it's different. Creativity, localization, meeting the demands of the public or your consumer. Mobile really is a big opportunity. Oh, and what about apps?
6:04 pm on Nov 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Since I launched our first corporate brochure site in 1993 I have been in charge of all our company sites and have always done everything in-house. In the late 90s and through the noughties I could have outsourced the work since there was so much to do plus I was earning USD 10+K per month from AdSense alone.

Google's image theft destroyed 95% of our AdSense traffic yet the businesses have continued to flourish since they are realworld businesses with factories and continually in-demand products however could I JUSTIFY one single extra salary/wage these days?

Absolutely no way, G's algorithmic tantrums have not helped, however my global industry has swept those aside since G, quite simply, never, ever understood the difference between original quality and outright spam in my widget industry.

Currently I am constructing a new corporate site in fully responsive html5. This site has been designed for at least a 15-20 year life span, if I am correct html6 is not even being discussed/proposed, therefore as a company brochure site it should have a long life!

Going beyond a brochure site is not going to happen.

If I didn't have my realworld businesses with the way Google scrapes such sites as mine, my work would almost be pointless. I understand all the points engine is making however the problem is that just how are many of them are necessary to business success these days?

Jobsworths would say yes, IMHO of 49 years in business and 24 years of webmastering, The Net has morphed into something that Google no longer understands nor dictates to.

Obviously my response to the OP is to move on and get your life back, do something where you can actually enjoy what you do rather than being used and abused.
6:46 pm on Nov 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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SEO continues to change and evolve. Has it become more difficult? Yes, no doubt about it.

This means if you're still doing it the same way now as in 2016, you're going to have a hard time.

There are similarities with best practices from year to year of course. We're way beyond keyword optimization.

It has become more technical and nuanced. Focus on proving a quality experience for users.
7:15 pm on Nov 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Welcome to WebmasterWorld CallMeNicholi

Focus on proving a quality experience for users.


Ah, that old nugget mantra, probably THE most over-used statement for the past few years.

If professional site constructors have not been doing this from the very early days then just what the heck have they been doing apart from scraping and plagiarising?

Making things easier if possible? Sure, most of us have been doing that however for the basics all that retail buyer Joe Public wants is instant access to ever-cheaper prices ... if that is all you want to code for, fine, don't let me stop you, however this "quality experience" incantation is way past its sell by date since no one, unless they're an idiot, has deliberately been creating garbage sites.

Honestly, if one has to be told to provide a "quality experience" then they're totally in the wrong job.
7:53 pm on Nov 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Easy does it. It's a generalized statement. It's all I had time for.

I'm not looking for a debate.

In my view, many don't have a clear definition of what that means. Technical is only one piece.

It's not about optimizing just for Google or "rank, bank, than you ma'am."

It's also about seeing and going beyond your site.

As for clients, working with new sites is not how I want to spend my time.

If you're working with penalized sites, you have to envision the aftermath. If most of their DA/PA is gone after you correct, is that something you want to take on?

Best wishes to all.
8:04 pm on Nov 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Aw come on, I like a good debate:-)

We're straying off the original post, I'm good at doing that however this is interesting:

If you're working with penalized sites


I've only ever once had to do this about 12-13 years ago and it took me and tedster a month or so to work out precisely what it was, I certainly wouldn't want to take on someone else's penalised work, what a nightmare scenario.
8:12 pm on Nov 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Nah your cool RedBar I did mention I take on penalised sites and new sites, both are a bit of nightmare...
8:54 pm on Nov 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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the biggest thing that i have noticed over the years is that it's getting harder and harder to pinpoint what is actually wrong with a page.
you used to be able to look at it and say yeah, yeah, yeah, I'll fix that and fix that and fix that, and a couple of weeks later you'd see some movement in the SERPs. nowadays if I fix a page and make it ten times better I'm as likely to see it fall further down as go up.
what makes it more frustrating is that when you look at the sites ranking above you to get some tips (as you would have done in the old days) there are no tips to have -- how they're ranking as high as they do is a total mystery.
1:25 am on Nov 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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what makes it more frustrating is that when you look at the sites ranking above you to get some tips (as you would have done in the old days) there are no tips to have -- how they're ranking as high as they do is a total mystery.


The site which outranks me all the time, not just with one result, but between 2-4 results on the first page is still running m.dot, is http, no images, shorter content. The only thing they do have going for them is they are a media company. Don't get me wrong, their content is fine, but it is pretty frustrating to jump through Google hoops and still have them outperform me.
7:30 am on Nov 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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But from what I could see in those days, the earlier Panda rollout hit far more sites overall, and caused a much bigger shakeup of the web in general, than did the later Penguin
I agree. However, Penguin taken away the ability of SEOs to manipulate ranks for specific keywords, which was how the SEO industry was typically functioning at the time. There will be a list of keywords and the SEOs "guarantee" ranks for them within say 3-6 months. With Penguin SEOs lost that control and most had to shut shop. It is still possible to circumvent Panda issue, since control over your site's quality is in your hands, but there is no getting around Penguin. Non-brand SMB companies, which was the staple of majority of SEO companies, lost out to brands and along with them those SEOs.
9:33 am on Nov 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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it is pretty frustrating to jump through Google hoops

I have long since stopped doing stuff because a Googler said it was a good idea.

However, I listen to everything Google says.

Sometimes, they flag up something worthwhile on it's own merits (https). Sometimes they flag up something worth experimenting with (structured data). Sometimes they remind you to avoid leaving footprints for a legitimate business need (building links).

Google are probably the biggest evangelists for a "web they'd like to see". And that's fine, they're a legitimate entity too. But I feel perfectly happy ignoring stuff that doesn't make sense for my business, or my users.

Just because they are evangelising, doesn't mean they're rewarding. And even if they're rewarding, doesn't mean the investment / resources are worth devoting.
5:09 am on Nov 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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People here are complaining about Google. But the biggest problem I have had is the clients.
1) They are unwilling to make major changes to their website.
a) Change to a mobile friendly design.
b) change hosting companies to improve load time.
c) any changes to improve load time.
d) Any changes that would improve conversion.
They really have no idea what it takes to make a webpage work.

2) They don't have a reasonable budget.

For these reasons I made my own websites and look for partners in revenue sharing. Because I am overseas now, its a slow road.
8:26 pm on Nov 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I own two websites ; .ca and .com.

I'm closing my .ca in 2018 because Amazon.ca just started to sell the same products with a 50 % discount plus free shipping. I cannot compete with them, the syndrome of the mouse against the elephant.

My .com that I have since 2003, has been clobbered with Penguin and Panda (Panda was really hard to recover from), aliexpress, mouser, digikey, the Chinese and finally Amazon.com. My sales were affected the most from Panda at around 2013-2014. My ranking is up but never like pre Panda. My traffic is 50-60 % down. I reworked my website, changed hosting to fast one, my website is 100 % mobile and I put money in it. Forget about Adword, since the companies listed before are in my field, the pay per click is about $ 2.00 or more minimum. I still rank in the top 10 in Bing but I get almost nothing in traffic from them.

I started to liquidate stock for the shutdown of my .com in late 2018 also.

Too bad but I had a good run. It was truly frustrating not to fully recover from Panda thought.


Thanks Guys for the help over the years,


Intravino
9:09 pm on Nov 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I'm glad other are sharing experiences. Thought I was the only one.
10:47 pm on Nov 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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If the year of 2012 taught us something, it was not to put all the eggs in one basket.

This is not meant as an insult however, the fundamental concept of blaming "Google SEO" for failed internet businesses is rather unimaginative.

There are plenty of successful internet businesses who have made loads of money without any "Google SEO"

One specific example, a services-based client who relies on incoming leads to survive. From paid advertising and paid lead-gen traffic sources we're getting a 20+% conversion rate. From organic Google traffic, the conversion rate is 4%. If we work out the ROI, it doesn't make any sense bothering about "Google SEO"

Yes, it is more difficult for eCommerce sites, however, considering the wild expansion of Shopify and WooCommerce, it's not impossible to make money in eCommerce.

There were 335,000 Shopify sites in 2016. Now there are 500,000+ sites. More than 450 new businesses apply for a Shopify account EVERY day. Not all of them will make it a success, but hey, a good portion will.

Just go for it. If your current business is failing, rethink, restructure and innovate.
5:04 am on Nov 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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There are many flavours of SEO these days and mine is in-house ecommerce in a large brand where pure SEO conversions are measured in the millions of $. I am kept busy with other parts of the business (e.g. marketing or PR) doing stuff that might trigger Panda - they hire agencies to write content for "branding purposes" e.g. cake recipes for a niche finance sector brand? At times it is easier to block some content from the search engines than to argue the point. So we have internal "competitors" as well :) Gradually, we are making others think like SEOs and that's why conversions are increasing. So, to the OP, SEO is very much alive and working at the enterprise level. I agree that it would be very difficult at the SMB level with low budgets.
3:59 am on Nov 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Google claims their goal is to help SMB's. The changes they implement are not friendly for the average webmaster.

So yes, we can complain. Because even for those knowledgeable on WebmasterWorld it's hard to keep up and rank.
9:22 am on Nov 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Eggs in a basket. G's is the bigger (for most folks), but I carry two, three, four baskets and those generate more than g. Find other ways (if advertising is your income), other products/distribution (if ecommerce), different marketing (tv, radio, film), and don't ignore the gold in them thar hills of social media.

I have one client with a relatively substantial site, with a product that has a value of several 10s of 7 figures. One sale a year makes their nut and then some. I have another client pushing product every Tom Dick and Harry provide and we still manage 5 figures a month by alternative advertising.

SEO, these days, to me, means KISS (Keep It Simple, Sir) or DDSS (Don't Do Something Stupid).

As for info sites, the ever present theft of content, now on a global scale, merely dilutes the playing field and one either lives with that reality (or files countless DMCAs),or pulls hair out (note: I am bald), or finds a new vocation. My new vocation (among many) is not losing sleep over what g does next as I have learned there are other ways to drive traffic-- CONVERTING TRAFFIC--without that particular basket.
11:19 am on Nov 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Why ?
As a content provider there was a future, today G itself does those mistakes every second on there numerous sites..
They take legitimate (lol) actions. A country is not occupied in RULES..

"Google is Best" till you make a fortune.. ? Why ?
We made a good income from G.. But due to my bad health/accident it massively dropped..
on similar hand.
Few of friends who had there site(s) started got messed with Panda/Penguine/etc. thing.
All of those DIED, who started just to make a fortune, replicating me (others in adsense work)..
We were among first 100 publishers in my GREAT country.. "
(no one knew if even G existed during those times)

But question BEING..
I made personal relations (indirect contact information phone, emails, etc.) via many old users here, half of them dont visit anymore ? (20+ years old members) ?

Does the site changes rules as per google (every month) LOL.. (should I ?)
or its a G property now..

I dont come/visit for opinions, just searched something from a huge yellow pages in my country, overtaken by G serps.. who visited me at hospital..
BUT ITs the way money is made.. today, this is DIGITAL MEDIA..
UPDATE EVERY MINUTE/SECOND or ....

My passion/dedication too went down 5 or 7+ years ago. Worked most hard on same, to get same up.. But found G SPAM was good option instead (hence dropped as it never was passion/dedication) and then my mess.. (lol)

But due to competitor (huge finance) my work was messed?
No warnings etc. from G ?
Inspite of several support requests, the email ID, didnt change in many years ? ****THIS IS MOST IMPORTANT REASON**** we couldnt check false complaints
Thats hurting lol (for sure now)

G makes most from brands now, like any NEWS/MEDIA needs to keep themselves alive.. they had to adopt it..
We closed down everything.. been a few years.

Trust me or not, spamming G has been more profitable more then ever, then DOING THE BEST (working hard, etc.) This is what brands do..
I cannot read above, but will be back for sure..

You can LOL on my reply.. ;) OR delete..
GL to all WebmasterWorld :)
3:24 pm on Nov 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Social Media is a form of SEO. How did social networks get so big? Millions of links from sites.

Email marketing is a great way to retain an audience. The best way to build a list is with quality traffic.

It always comes back to SEO and traffic.
11:02 pm on Nov 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Are we talking about SEO as a job or service? That's a lot different from creating an SEO-driven site of one's own (such as the thin affiliate sites and content farms that cluttered Google's SERPs not so many years ago).

I think there's plenty of room for the former, although it's probably like anything else: The successful get more successful, and the little guys fade from the scene. (Remember the desktop-publishing craze, which created plenty of opportunities for one-man shops until the big studios and ad agencies got on board with digital? Substitute "SEO" or "Web design" for "DTP," and--in the words of Yogi Berra--it's dj vu all over again.)
12:09 am on Nov 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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in the words of Yogi Berra--it's dj vu all over again.


In the words of Ted the bear - No matter how big a splash you make in this world whether you're Corey Feldman, Frankie Muniz, Justin Bieber or a talking teddy bear, eventually, nobody gives a sht
2:01 am on Nov 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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>The successful get more successful, and the little guys fade from the scene.

I took a client from 4,000 a month to 12,000 with white hat. Did they appreciate it? No.
I don't see how one can be more successful. Clients trust attorneys and used car salesman more than they trust SEO's.
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