Nothing in this field ever stays the same. What’s considered white-hat becomes black-hat, the engines like a hyphenated URL one day and then it starts to look spammy, Coldfusion is no longer cool (was it ever?), and stupid is the new clever.
Google’s latest major algorithm change is apparently responsible for the loss of massive amounts of traffic to some really large sites. The 28% drop that Answers.com reported has been all over the news, both in the industry and outside of it. I think my mother even asked me to express my opinion on it. OK she didn’t, but I wouldn’t have fallen over in shock if she had. Well yes I would have but you get my drift…everyone has heard about it. It reminds me of the horrid Florida update a few years back, which personally crushed several of my best sites and reduced their traffic to almost nothing since they got the bulk of it from Google. Did that teach me a lesson? NO.
This utter reliance upon Google is going to kill us in the end. I know that I concentrate my efforts on doing well in Google first, then I consider the other engines next. It’s very difficult to focus my efforts on performing well in Google, Yahoo, MSN, and everywhere else, so I see the stats and concentrate on Google since it brings the bulk of traffic to the sites. That is going to be a fatal flaw though, and even though I know it, it’s a hard habit to break. I hope you’re all singing that Chicago song now…
The online gambling industry was hit quite hard last year when the US legislation made online transactions for gambling sites illegal. For companies who relied heavily on the US for their traffic and real money players, this was a fairly crippling blow. The gambling industry has spent the past few months struggling to make up the US losses by strengthening their efforts in non-US territories, and I’m sure things are looking up for them but the whole point of this is that, like all of us, they put most of their eggs in one basket, and the basket eventually breaks. Google Adwords recently refused to publish ads for sites that are even remotely related to any form of gambling, therefore causing panic amongst some who think that THEIR industry could be next in line. This in part caused cost per click prices to shoot up across the board.
I could go on at length (as you may know if you’ve read any other posts that I’ve written) and describe tons more cases in which there was a reliance upon one institution, and it screwed someone big time in the end. That sounds very dirty. I swear it has nothing to do with my affection for Richard E. Grant. Anyway, what I hope for you to take away from this is the fact that whatever you’re doing may work well now, but it won’t forever. I’m sure you know that…I know that, but it’s easy to become complacent when you’re on top. Again, not a Richard E. Grant thing. Or IS it?
I have never seen a site’s statistics that showed an equal distribution amongst the major engines. Obviously in their competition to be the best, they’re going to favor certain factors over other ones that may be in favor with their competitors’ algorithms. Google might like a flowery keyword tag where the keyword is listed at the beginning and no permutation of it appears anywhere else, but Yahoo might like it when you have 10 variations of that keyword in its tag. Each wants your business as you know. Figuring out what each of them like is tough and even when you do, you usually can’t make everyone like YOU. Unless you’re my little nutbrown hare (who needs a website I can LINK TO) or my evilgreenmonkey or Richard E. Grant.
Just don’t get complacent. Don’t accept that Google giving you 75% of your traffic is always going to be as good as a large cognac after dinner when someone else (like Jon Roy) is paying. Take a look at your statistics (and if you don’t read them please read Rebecca’s post about getting anal…with your analytics, I mean. Her other post on getting anal with your…well it’s not on THIS blog let me assure you. We’re good girls here! And yes, I left out the “retentive” on purpose because otherwise it would not have been half as funny and today IS Rebecca’s birthday.) If you’re all cockeyed and skewed then do something about it before another algorithm change targets you and wrecks your life.