2012 is off to rough start for my online business. An essential part of making money off any internet venture is directing traffic to your websites, and for years Google search engine traffic was one of my mainstays.
Over the last six months I have witnessed the collective traffic to all of my websites drop by 50%. It seems that every time Google rolls out one of their Panda algorithm changes my sites lose more rankings in the search results. This has of course led to a significant loss in monthly income.
Hitting the wall like I have lately is more than enough to make your mind wander away from your business. You brainstorm ways to recover the lost traffic… you question the stability of your business… you start to wonder if you made the right choice to leave your job behind.
Now I have been building niche websites and optimizing them for the search engines since 2006. I know how volatile the business can be. On the negative side you have worldwide competition, sporadic SEO issues and product/merchant fall-outs. In short, there are many things that are out of your control. Suffice to say it is not a business for the feint of heart.
But I didn’t get into this business to stand on the sidelines and bite my fingernails. The reason I love building online properties is because the game changes every day. The issues that are crippling me today have moved someone else higher in the search engines… giving them the income level I once had. So for every sad story you read online there is someone out there with a big smile on their face!
In this “next stage” of my career I’m going to take things to a new level. I have two new websites that will be marketed in much different way. Instead of focusing on what the search engines want, my focus will be on what real people want. That might sound obvious to the average person but you must understand that my old way has been very profitable for me.
Most of the money I spend on promoting sites will now be spent marketing towards visitors as opposed to building links. The first step is to make my new sites more engaging and less focused on sales. I want to secure a following for each site before I focus on monetizing the traffic. If I can develop a good community through Facebook followers and email subscribers then hopefully the site will be less dependent on search engine traffic.
I refuse to give up on my existing websites. The process of adding content and building links will continue for them. No one knows where this Panda experiment will ultimately end, or if the effect can be reversed. My plan is to secure limited links from higher quality sites. No more mass submission packages for me. In the past I have seen 1 or 2 quality links drastically improve the rankings of sites that appeared stuck on page 2 of the search results. My plan is to put this quality over quantity remedy to the test in a big way. We’ll see what happens…