Too much reliance on Google’s organic traffic plus a hit by an algorithm update like Penguin, and your business can go south from one day to another. Sound too dramatic?
I don’t wish this on anyone but sadly, it happens, and I’m confident this is not the only case.
The best way to be Google-safe and to build a thriving online business is to simply ignore Google. Yes, that’s right. This might sound a bit strange, especially coming from someone who makes a living selling SEO services. However, I am also a business owner and the more I learn about business management, the more I realize that if a business finds itself in that situation, it’s because it is too dependent on search engines.
The underlying cause of this reliance on organic search results might be attributed in part to the fact that business owners tend to think of this traffic as “unpaid.” Once they start a website and get organic visits (mistakenly considered “free” visits), they realize the power of SEO and start educating themselves about it and demanding more of it. But this traffic is not free at all, and in competitive niches, it is even more expensive than PPC advertising. Soon, they end up with SEO budgets and an increased reliance on Google search results.
I challenge you to stop obsessing about organic visibility and start thinking of organic traffic from any search engine as a gift that may come or not, and which could go with any new search algorithm update.
In this article I am not going to share any SEO “secrets” with you – I apologize if that’s what you were looking for – but rather, I will discuss different traffic sources upon which you should split your online marketing efforts on. After all, no one likes to check his or her organic rankings and traffic constantly.
Of course, I am not saying that organic traffic from search engines is bad, rather, I am suggesting that an online business will be safer if its revenue is coming from a variety of sources. This is not SEO best practice; it is “business 101,” as some would say.
This is the divide and conquer concept applied to business planning. In plain words, it means not putting all your eggs in one basket. Here are several traffic sources to diversify to:
- Paid search
The most common paid search traffic source is pay -per-click platforms like AdWords, but there are others you can try too, such as Yahoo! and Bing or second-tier search engines. Banner advertising is also something to consider for branding purposes and re-marketing.
Ask the online marketing veterans and they will all say the same thing: The secret is in the list. True, and enough said. If you don’t have a plan to collect email addresses from visitors, go ahead and implement one, or several.
Direct, or type-in, traffic is actually an indication of how successful you are at building a brand. Direct traffic usually has high conversion rates and good profits. While existing customers often drive a large portion of a company’s revenue, they are not easily gained. Good products and services are requirements, leading to word-of-mouth and direct traffic. So make sure that you do a good job.
These are people clicking on links found on other websites and landing on your website. Aim at getting your expertise in front of your audience. This can be accomplished by publishing research and white papers, important news and press releases, or sharing documents on third party websites. You should also experiment with engaging in relevant forum discussions, Q&A sites, and comment marketing.
This is your blog-driving traffic. Of course, this means you have a blog, and that you publish great content to which people subscribe. Publish as often as you can to educate and impress your target audience. Keep doing it for a couple of years to reap the full benefits of blogging. This continual content publishing won’t be easy. In fact, it will be one of the most difficult parts of your so-called “content marketing,” but after about 20 months (according to some research), it will start paying off.
Some swear by it, others say it’s a waste of time. Don’t believe anyone until you test it for yourself. Be prepared to spend a good amount of time to connect with your target market properly. Social media success is not something you can achieve overnight (unless you’re a Bieber or Kardashian) and is quite demanding.
Some personal advice – never try to sell your services on professional social networks like LinkedIn. Instead, sell your expertise.
How do you allocate time and resources for each source?
This can be figured out based on conversion rates for each source. That means you have to drive sufficient traffic from each source first to draw statistically significant conclusions. Each industry and niche will have its own figures.
As a business owner, you do everything possible to achieve success and to continue to make sure that your business becomes more and more successful. The last thing that you need is to have anyone or anything get in the way of that. If you see that an entity such as Google is hurting rather than helping your business, you must figure out a way to succeed in spite of it.[signoff][/signoff]
Traian Neacsu is the Director of Search Marketing and co-founder of Pitstop Media Inc, a Canadian company that provides top rated SEO services to businesses across North America. He has more than 10 years experience in helping small and medium businesses generate and convert organic traffic from search engines. Most of his time is dedicated to growing the company and spending time with the family. Connect with Traian on Google+.