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Google Organic Search Brings Risks and Rewards

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Google Panda

Google organic search comes with both rewards and risks. Taking too much advantage of the rewards also will drive up the risks.

I recently went shopping for a website to buy and found a listing for a site with 150,000 monthly unique visitors that had an interesting insight in its for-sale listing.

The site had a “mix of organic (41%), direct (24%), referral (19%) and paid (16%) traffic to alleviate any risk of relying too heavily on Google to generate its revenue.”

It might also have mentioned that its audience mix avoids relying too heavily on Google to generate its audience in addition to generating its revenue.

The various Panda, Penguin, Buffy and other updates to the Google organic search algorithms have brought out many reports of sites losing as much as 90 percent of their traffic because they dropped in rankings.

Their experience proves the need to manage a presence in Google without basing nearly the entire business on it.

The Rewards: A Balanced Google Strategy

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Strategies attempt to create a logical and thoughtful approach to a set of business goals and objectives.

A simple strategy of audience mix suggests that it makes sense to set goals and objectives for the type and amount of audience coming from Google, such as:

  1. Organic search as a percentage of total site traffic. This includes Bing, Yahoo and other search engines.
  2. Google organic as a percentage of total traffic or total organic traffic.
  3. Total keywords in Google that generate site traffic.
  4. Targeting specific keywords that provide the highest value in the form of pages consumed, ads clicked, rankings, etc.

What this suggests is that a site with a high percentage of traffic from Google may actually want to see that traffic moderate or even expect it to decline.

Why in the world would someone want or expect their Google traffic to decline as a percentage of their total traffic?

The reason why is that efforts going into another source of traffic, such as external blogging or article marketing, may produce a negative response from Google because of “unnatural linking” or other recent changes the company has built into search.

Let’s say a popular blog on a popular site such as Tumblr with links back to the parent site produces a negative response from Google because it uses the same anchor text too many times.

But let’s also say that the increase in traffic to the parent site from Tumblr is about the same as the decrease in traffic from Google.

Not only is there no harm to the parent site, but traffic is now more balanced between the two sites and prevents the parent site from relying too much on one or the other.

Organic Search Risks: Nobody is #1 Forever

GoogleSome of the risks are above, but they don’t end there because it’s possible to lose Google traffic in other ways.

Speaking from experience, I can tell you that it’s quite exciting to get ranked #1 in Google for an important keyword for the first time.

The click rate in the top position approaches 50 percent or higher — unlike any other click rate in the online world.

The amount of traffic from that #1 position can be significant. Some sites may actually get the majority of their Google traffic from just that one keyword.

Then one day the well goes dry. For some reason, in many cases unfathomable, the ranking for that keyword drops down or even vanishes. There goes all that traffic.

The lessons are:

  1. Set a goal for Google organic traffic, such as 30 to 50 percent of site traffic.
  2. Once the range is exceeded, put more of your marketing efforts elsewhere.
  3. Track the results at least monthly — weekly and even daily are better — to maintain a balanced approach to audience mix.

Yes, Google is dominant and a site should rely on it for organic search traffic. But a good thing usually isn’t good forever.

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