A couple weeks ago I wrote about Google changing it’s algorithm to combat “content farms”, and it’s arguably the most talked about news in the SEO industry this year. It’s effects are being felt, from actual content farms to ordinary legitimate sites. This brings up an important question: should we be relying on SEO for revenue at all?
The Fallout From the Algorithm Update Begins
Surely by now you’ve read other articles about the latest Google update, and you’ve probably seen some pretty active discussions about it in Webmaster/SEO forums. Maybe you’ve also read about Mahalo laying off 10% of it’s staff and you’re thinking there’s a pretty good chance some innocent people got caught in the crossfire here. Is it possible that people who were doing everything right got mistaken for a content farm and lost rankings?
I have no doubt that this has happened. Many times webmasters that are doing everything by Google’s guidelines get hit by these drastic algorithm updates. Some would say it’s a pure numbers game; someone has to fall within the margin of error. Some say the algorithms changes are poorly thought out and executed, and Google simply doesn’t care if innocents are harmed. Yet another small conspiracy-minded group thinks Google takes down some innocent sites to get them to start purchasing more adwords ads. Whatever the case may be I know innocent sites are being punished, and there is little you can do about it.
Should You Depend on SEO at All?
I’ve often advised my clients that SEO should always be treated as gravy, an extra bonus to boost your marketing plan. This doesn’t mean SEO cannot bring the majority of your business, because it often does. But you should base most of your planning on the revenue you bring in through traditional marketing means.
There is no safety in business, your success is based on risk taking which is why some succeed, and most fail. If it weren’t risky everyone would do it. But you shouldn’t take unnecessary risks and depend on SEO traffic, because it can disappear in a day. When you do your home budget, do you purchase things based on the potential of winning the lottery? You should always work with a contingency plan and don’t make large plans based on great SEO rankings.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, because SEO is simply too volatile to trust. You can be doing everything right, and staying perfectly white hat and legal and lose it all. You don’t own Google, and nobody outside Google truly knows the inner workings so it’s best to treat it as a free gift you can’t rely on.
It’s all gravy, and should be treated as such. Use the revenue generated by successful SEO to fund offline marketing programs or online advertising. Keep pushing your product’s potential and focusing on making it sell itself. Don’t rely on something you have no control over that could vanish overnight.