Business Lesson Of The Day: Don't Rely On A Single Source For All Your Business

from the not-that-complicated dept

Forbes has an article that covers the same ground that some other articles have covered over the years, about sites that are upset after Google downgraded them (or, as the article notes, “condemned them to Google Hell”). What’s amusing, though, as you read the article is that the sites discussed all made some mistakes. First, they simply rely too much on Google to bring them traffic. If you rely on a single source to provide you all your customers, only you are to blame for not diversifying. Second, in each case, the sites in question made use of questionable search engine optimization techniques that got them buried. Google is pretty clear that you shouldn’t try to game their algorithm, and if they catch you doing it, you’ll get punished. It’s amusing that the article sort of hides this point, noting it further down in the article after going through all the pain and suffering sites went through for being knocked out of the main Google index. What’s left unsaid is that if they hadn’t tried to game the Google algorithm while relying on it so much for traffic, perhaps their businesses would be doing just fine. It’s certainly true that Google has immense power to bring a site traffic, and if you’re getting that traffic there’s no reason not to leverage it. But to assume that Google somehow owes you that traffic is a mistake — and a dangerous one for any online business owner to make.

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Comments on “Business Lesson Of The Day: Don't Rely On A Single Source For All Your Business”

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Charles Griswold (user link) says:

Single Source of Business

Business Lesson Of The Day: Don’t Rely On A Single Source For All Your Business

The first thing I thought when I read that title (and before I read the rest of the post) was that a lot of business learned that the hard way when dealing with IBM. They built their business around having IBM as a customer, and then lost big time when IBM switched to another vendor. That has ruined some businesses.

Anyway, the point of this (and I think there is one) is that you’re entirely correct. It’s a bad idea to rely on any single source of income when you’re a running a business.

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Survival of the Most Diverse

I wonder about this tendency for businesses to evolve into an increasingly fragile state. It takes more work to deal with a diverse range of vendors, or a diverse range of market segments, so many people don’t bother, they specialize into a single segment, like koalas simplifying their digestive systems by deciding to eat nothing but eucalyptus leaves. Then, when something bad happens in that segment, they’re toast.

Moral: it costs extra to keep all your options open, but it could stop you from going extinct.

Ambrose (profile) says:

They've got the wrong story -- so have you!

I think Forbes has got it wrong, but your story doesn’t quite get to the heart of the matter either.

To me, the real story is this:

“Sanar thinks he can trace his problem to a search marketing consultant he had paid $35,000 to improve Skyfacet’s Google rankings.”

He paid 35,000 to an SEO guy who did his job so badly that he got the site blacklisted by Google!

Why isn’t the story called “beware of SEO consultants”? Thirty-five thousand dollars? Why isn’t he taking the guy to court?

Rick says:

I tend to agree with people on this point. Your ranking in Google is not what you should depend on for your sole source of traffic/income.

However, Google is supposedly ‘Do No Evil.’ That premise works fine when they punish sites for gaming the search engine, particularly spamming the results.

Unfortunately I’ve found out they don’t apply that as fairly as I thought. I was recently accused of ‘invalid clicks’ on my adsense account, which was promptly disabled. I lost about 40% of my site revenue instantly. I appealed and was denied reprieve. I epxected that, as I have read the stories.

I know it was not because I was clicking on my ads, I wasn’t. I went over my logs religiously trying to figure out the problem. The clicks all seemed valid and legitimate – it didn’t make sense.

Then I reread my first ‘disabled’ letter – unlike my appeal denial it referenced invalid ‘impressions’ and clicks’ Something new…

So, I started checking the adsense blog and found out you can’t use traffic exchanges or social surfing sites to promote, as it ‘implies’ you bought clicks/impressions. I had exactly that, not realizing it was illegal to promote my site. My intention and the results I wanted were to increase subscribers, unfortunately the best way to do this was to send visitors to my main page, which had one Google ad on the page.

It was irrelevat that it never dispalyed a CPM ad to my knowledge. It was irelevant that my CTR on this page was .009% (ie: PITIFUL) and my actions did not deprive anyone of legitimate traffic. The Google algorithms had spoken, I lost. I was ready to deal with that and move on…

Then I noticed something else, my traffic began to drop exponentially. My page rank dropped as well, a rank I had enjoyed for over 4 years. My traffic from Google dropped by 90% as well, and I HAD ranked on page 1-10 of results for over 800 phrases. Now my site could barely be found for anything but the most obscure phrase…

Google had convicted me of fraud for using a StumbleUpon type site to promote myself. They then sentenced me to death. I never used deceptive SEO tactics, I spent over 5 years building my site carefully, developing relevant links and adding fresh original content daily. It did not matter…

Revenue is now down 65%, traffic is down 45%.

I used adsense on my 2 other sites that got a fair amount of traffic from Google – they were penalized similarly as well.

Thanks Google. I give up.

ehrichweiss says:

Re: adsense

I empathize with you there and now am scared myself because I’ve used StumbleUpon to promote some of my sites and didn’t know about this but at the same time that was months and months ago so I don’t think they noticed.

What’s really screwed is that Google NEEDS us to make money and yet they treat us like crap. They even need the webspammers.

My solution has been finding other affiliate systems and using them instead; that way the worst that can happen to me is that google could delist me which might seem bad but over 50% of my traffic seems to come from yahoo, technorati, etc. so it wouldn’t be that big of a loss but Google will soon feel the sting since I’ll be making someone else money instead of them on top of that.

I’ve already said this on other sites: Google is becoming irrelevant. They can’t keep up with the new artificially intelligent content generators that the spammers are using and they’re realizing they’re losing the battle quickly.

I honestly see all the search engines moving over to a partially user-rated system where human interaction will be required to move a site up/down the ranking since a computer will never be able to tell the difference between someone who has a poor understanding of the English language, and computer-generated content derived from existing articles.

Gary (profile) says:

I’m not surprised that google is trying to serve the public by providing non-gamed results. I _am_ surprised that all these complaining sites had such a large drop in revenue. Surely, if they have even a reasonable number of repeat customers, the drop in revenue wouldn’t be so precipitous.

So I think that the loss of revenue is a result of a deeper problem—all their customers are first-time customers. Their customers don’t enjoy the experience enough to want to come back.

I suspect that the same mentality that thinks it’s a good idea to game the google rank also thinks it’s a good idea to rip off customers.

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