Received wisdom in website marketing is to work continuously on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to increase your organic rankings in Google and the other search engines.
For most of the time I’ve been working in the online world that seemed to be the most cost-effective method of gaining traffic and customers – but it’s turned out to be a fools errand to rely on organic ranking alone.
That’s especially true if you’ve previously engaged the services of a ‘professional’ SEO company who relied on external link building to gain higher rankings for your site. The reality is, and they state this in their terms, that Google doesn’t like it when someone attempts to manipulate their search returns and, effectively, that’s what link building tactics have been doing.
Let me tell you a story about one of our customers; the site went live in February 2010 offering clothing to a targeted market. As is usual for a small new start it took a few months before sales started coming in and grew slowly but steadily over the next year or so.
By the end of 2011 it seemed that a more active approach to improving rankings would be good so an SEO firm with a good track record was engaged – not insubstantial fees were paid, results for specific terms improved but sales barely increased. After about six months the fees were unsupportable and the contract was terminated: rankings nose-dived to lower than they had been before and sales dropped: lesson learnt.
After a sustained campaign of improving title and description tags, increasing text content to make it more valuable visitor number and sales grew again – hooray.
And then in August/September 2013 Google introduced their Hummingbird algorithm – sales plummeted by around 90%.
This is the most extreme example I’ve seen but the effects of that change in Google adversely affected every ecommerce website I know of; those findings were confirmed by very well know marketers around the world.
More recently, I was chatting to Chris Bloor at Marketing Secrets and he told me of a small website he had that made a good monthly income from Google Adsense – until Google changed things and sales dropped substantially over a couple of months until it was zero: business effectively wiped out in only three months.
So what can we learn from all this? It’s clear to me that chasing organic rankings and relying on them alone is a huge risk to your business and income. In fact, let’s take that further, relying on only one channel to market is hazardous to the health of your finances.
But what can you do about it?
Google et al seem to hold all the cards here, but there’s a lot you can do in creating a web marketing strategy – if you want some assistance and ideas then please comment here so we can share the joy of knowledge 😉