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SEO

Why Your High Ranking in Google Could Be a Failure Point

We all want our websites listed at the top of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs), right? A high-ranking can bring targeted and (mostly) free traffic. More importantly, it brings leads and potential conversions.

If you’re working to get a top ranking, your goal is simple: you want Google to love your website. But the problem with Google’s love is that it doesn’t come with a promise of ongoing fidelity. Google has no loyalty to your business. Because of this, your rankings can become a potential point of failure.

Don’t misunderstand – I’m not saying you shouldn’t work to get a high-ranking in Google. It is just that I see a lot of business owners who work very hard at it and end up inadvertently baking significant point of failure into their business plan. That’s not a good thing.

How Google Can Be a Single Point of Failure: An Example

declining revenue Why Your High Ranking in Google Could Be a Failure PointAbout a year ago, my website brokerage firm was working with a client who was considering divesting his network of websites. This network had dozens of sites generating a very healthy monthly profit without the need for an extensive support staff. As we were helping him prepare his websites for sale, we performed a comprehensive valuation, and determined the value was slightly over $1 million for the entire network.

Shortly after this, disaster struck. On February 23, 2011, Google released the first of several Panda updates. Overnight, his earnings dropped precipitously, as did the value of his network. In just 24 hours, he lost $800,000 in total value.

The blame cannot be placed entirely on Google. After all, our client was the one who built his business to be dependent on Google. Our client was the one who aggressively pursued a high-ranking in Google, and did not focus on any other sources of traffic.

This begs the question: How dependent on Google is your website? Does the idea of losing your rankings in Google cause you to sweat, even a little? Don’t be fooled by the thought that it couldn’t happen to you. Thousands of online business owners had the same thought before the Florida Update, the Panda Update, the Penguin Update, the EMD Update, and the list goes on.

Is your website overly dependent on Google? It’s time to make a change.

4 Steps to Break Your Google Over-Dependency

shutterstock 130573349 637x477 Why Your High Ranking in Google Could Be a Failure PointAt the heart of breaking your dependency is realizing Google is not the only source of traffic on the Internet, nor is it always the best. By focusing on four key areas, you can get some of the same results you’re seeking from that high Google ranking.

  1. Make “Micro-Conversions” Your New Favorite Word. I will venture a guess that the majority of people who visit your website do not become customers right away. This is a normal pattern for any website, and this is where micro-conversions can play a significant role in your business. The entire concept of micro-conversions is to push people to give you permission to keep talking to them after they leave your website, whether it be through an email list, Facebook, Twitter, or any other social medium that provides the opportunity for conversation. Entire businesses can be built on micro-conversions without any help at all from Google.
  2. Think Beyond Your Website. If you have an e-commerce business, realize that your website represents just one channel where you can convert users into customers. Amazon, Sears, Shopping.com, and dozens of other marketplaces with significant audiences provide you with an opportunity to sell your goods. Take advantage of these external channels.
  3. Stop Thinking Rankings; Start Thinking Referrals. You know one key to ranking is links, and a key to lasting rankings is quality links built naturally. So how do you build quality links naturally? One way is to start thinking about quality sources for referral traffic rather than what just provides a good link. If you start thinking of your link building campaigns more in terms of networking and public relations, you’ll likely find that the quality, lasting links build themselves without much help from you.
  4. Build a List—(And Use it). This can be filed under micro-conversions, but it’s so important it deserves its own point. Once your readers or customers opt in to your email list, you’re able to communicate with them directly, right in their own inboxes. It’s much more direct communication than writing blog posts, or posting updates on social media networks. As long as you’re providing valuable content to that list, the members will remain and you’ll have a built-in audience whenever you want to launch—or sell—something new. In addition, if you lose your Google rankings, you can still build an email list through myriad methods and techniques.

Remember, a high-ranking in Google should be an accomplishment that enhances your website and opens it up for new growth. Make sure you don’t turn that top ranking into a possible failure point. Implement new marketing methods, and your website will be healthier, more stable, and most importantly, a far more valuable asset.

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Mark Daoust discusses issues relating to the valuation and sale of established and profitable websites. He is the founder of Quiet Light Brokerage, a leading website brokerage firm helping people sell their established and profitable websites since 2007. Connect with Quiet Light on Twitter and Google+ for more info!
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19 thoughts on “Why Your High Ranking in Google Could Be a Failure Point

  1. Thats a fantastic post Mark. Over dependency on Google can be a nightmare once the rankings stop coming in. Good following social media can also prove to be a good secondary traffic

  2. I’ve heard of many people who’ve fallen out of the SERPs and lost loads of income – That’s why good links from other, reliable sources are so important.
    As you rightly point out – a list of emails avoids losing contact with your hard earned customers. Work hard to get them, work even harder to keep them.

  3. This is great food for thought. I got to say that I am fully guilty of thinking too much about my Google rankings and too little about establishing relationships with others, and there is no question that no man is an island.

    Although, on the other hand, I think that the idea that great relationships will yield to link building themselves is a bit naive. No offense, but with Penguin being updated all the time (it’s being rumored that a major update took place on 9th January), people are very careful about giving away links.

    You have to work a lot to earn someone’s trust to the extent that they will link to your resources unless you’ve got one that is really one-of-a-kind.

    1. I agree that links are harder to come by – this actually emphasizes the point that great relationships are needed in order to garner links! Frankly, if someone is giving out an easy link, I don’t want it. I want real, earned links. Those are valuable.

      But it starts with the right mindset. If you are link hunting, you’ll likely find some. But if you are relationship hunting and looking to promote your business to another’s audience, that’s where the quality links are coming from these days.

      I’ve seen so many people who have been burned by taking on low quality links. These people built up massive businesses on the strength of their rankings. Once those rankings disappeared, so did their livelihood.

      1. That is true. However one question comes up: How do you spare yourself the time to build these relationships? With so much going on in the life of a marketer, how many hours of chat can one invest everyday to build a true relationship? Is it really worth spending hours and hours chatting with someone to get links, or exposure to this audience, or whatever we are after?

        In theory your plan is sound, but is it doable, in practice?

      2. I’m not so sure if it really amounts to hours upon hours of time, but it does take time. Business is and should be about building relationships. The great thing about this approach is that it multiplies itself.

        I have relationships with people who I see once or twice a year at conferences or a speak with 2-3 times per year. But those relationships foster referrals and a source for introductions to other potential relationships. Once a relationship is established, it usually doesn’t take much to keep it going.

    2. You don’t need to build relationships like you think, the art of modern SEO is finding scalable, repeatable, and reliable ways to get those great links. Maybe not always scalable, but at least repeatable and reliable. There are still tricks to the trade.

      1. I agree there are still tricks to the trade, but I think lessons need to be learned from the past. The tricks of the trade in the past got a lot of people hurt.

        If you focus on referrals first, then subsequently get slammed by Google, guess what? You still got referrals coming in! And, if your focus is referrals first, a natural byproduct of this will be good quality links.

        Will you have the most links? Not necessarily. Will you rank #1? Who knows – but business is about getting customers, and if you can find a way to get customers that doesn’t rely on engineers who you will never get to know, that’s a more sure vehicle than hoping Google continues to love your site.

  4. This has happened to me and I’ve had the opposite happen as well. I listed a website for sale, big Google update happened, website became worth about 4x the original asking price. I like to remind people that the “o” in SEO stands for optimization, not “business model”.

    1. That’s great that you had this work in the opposite direction! One of the impacts we’ve seen in the “website for sale” marketplace, however, is that positive ranking changes impact the valuations less than they would have in the past precisely because of the volatility over the last couple of years.

      That being said, I don’t want to come across as discouraging natural rankings – I’m not! Business owners should struggle to obtain those top rankings, but also focus on those microconversions!

  5. I completely agree. I had a few clients who thought SEO on Google was the holy grail of “Free” traffic. It was an uphill battle trying to convince them that it wasn’t free, and wasn’t the best use of resources. They wanted “just” seo, and didn’t consider other methods for driving traffic.

    This was a few years back so more people seem to be savvy to the realities of content creation, link building, social, and Organic rankings…

    Thanks for the good read, I mentioned this post on my blog.

  6. Amazing post Mark. Specially the idea of micro conversions, as ranking top in Google and getting lots of business are two different things. Thanks for sharing,

  7. Perfect Content for many SEO’s , who are still thinking that SERP will play huge role to get Revenue. Other than Google SERP help also we can bring business to client websites. Nice Post , really impressed with the way you described each and every point .

    Thanks for the post article.

    Cheers!!!
    Motupally.

  8. Overly dependent on Google is not the right way to go. Many legitimate and popular websites can testify to this point.

    There is more to the success of a website that ranking in the Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

    Its good to have these 4 steps so that a webmaster or Internet marketer can break his over dependency on Google.

    Referrals through socials and building email lists are alternative steps that work really well.

    – Sunday

  9. We’ve seen this too with some temporary drops due to server issue. When the site’s not there, googlebot can find it, and POOF…just like that the rankings drop and take a few weeks to come back. I like how you look at it as referals, instead of just link building. A well rounded plan that takes into account that all-important list, paid search, PR, content marketing, and of course social media is critical. Can’t depend on any one tactic anymore. Who knows that will go away tomorrow!

  10. Great and simple ideas here. We used to build our list for 2 years now, but still Google is very important this days for our traffic, because its free.

    Thanks , K

  11. Fabulous post! Also, there is no guaranteeing that Google Search will still exist in 10 years time, which is rather worrying for the 10,000s of SEO agencies!