Looks like Google is making even more changes. They announced the first Penguin refresh a few days ago but I haven’t heard of anybody that actually recovered from the unnatural link penalty. I haven’t noticed any improvement for this site either, but hopefully that will change soon.
Google is really pushing the SEO industry. Many people who thought they had cracked the code are now helpless and don’t know how to rank anymore.
My friend, whose site dropped about 3 months ago, can’t get anything to work. He used to pull $2k/month profit with Amazon affiliate program and Adsense, but now the site is not making anything. He even started a new project, but so far is not getting any real results.
That just supports what I have said a while ago about being able to generate traffic without Google to gain search engine rankings. I think they want you to pay for traffic first and then possibly get better treatment in the organic search.
Of course, if you get some major attention from highly authoritative sites then yes you can probably still rank without driving paid traffic, but do you want to constantly depend on Google?
I honestly do not believe anymore that all these new changes are about quality search results. Google keeps saying that they want to reward webmasters that build fantastic websites with lots of quality and relevant content, but their actions keep telling a different story.
For example, Tim Carter who runs AskTheBuilder.com website got slapped after Panda update and lost over 70% of his traffic. James Hussey did an interview with Tim that I think you will find very interesting.
What’s so unique about this story is the fact that Tim was featured by Google as one of their Adsense success stories. He used to get special treatment from them and even testified on their behalf when authorities started investigating Google for possible anti-trust lawsuit.
He did everything Google wants us to do and that is: provide useful and quality content without trying to game their algo and building links. Then all of a sudden he got slapped and most of his income disappeared.
Here is how his Alexa.com graph looks like:
As you can imagine that’s a pretty steep drop and lots of money lost. I feel sorry for Tim because he has not really broken any rules or tried to game the system, but yet still got hit.
You can be white-hat SEO and concentrate purely on quality content but that doesn’t mean you are immune to Google penalties.
If you depend solely on free organic traffic a lot of things can go wrong and you might find yourself starting from scratch one day.
Google penalty is a serious obstacle for the little guy and here is why:
1. It limits your growth and what kind of content you can produce – Let’s say you are doing well and you know that every time you make a post to your blog it gets to the top for its main keywords in your niche.
This allows you to grow very quickly because you can take advantage of trends happening in your marketplace.
For example, someone released a product that is an obvious scam or not so good and you want to warn people about it. All you have to do is write a good helpful review and let Google send all those people that are searching for more info to your site. This way you get more people discovering your blog and your following is growing.
If you are penalized then what’s the point of doing that? You won’t rank there so you don’t write the post.
You also don’t have motivation to produce positive reviews for something that can actually help some people out because, again, no matter what you do it won’t get nowhere near the top.
Or let’s say you wanted to upgrade your site and allow user generated content, so that you can gain more saturation and grow your dominance in your niche. Well, if you are penalized it won’t work anymore, or at least it will be a lot more difficult.
So now you are very limited to what you can do. You can pretty much only post generic info that probably won’t get noticed anyway. Your competitors who managed to keep their rankings now have a huge advantage over you and will leave you in the dust.
2. You can’t transition to paid traffic overnight – Content sites usually don’t perform well with paid traffic sources unless you are selling something or doing some ninja tricks. You can’t just start paying for traffic because your site is not designed to produce positive ROI if you are paying for clicks.
Large content sites are created to provide quality content and build communities not to sell products.
So if your blog got penalized and you have been working on it for years like Tim Carter has on his website then you got some very important decisions to make and you need to do it fast.
3. Your business is now more vulnerable – Your competitors can now steal your content. If they know you got a Google penalty they can simply start rewriting all your articles and steal your previous rankings like ehow does to other webmasters.
Ehow’s entire business model is based on rewriting other people’s work. They hire cheap outsourcers who basically go visit websites like yours or mine and then piece things together to come up with their own content.
They do link to the original page but the link has the nofollow tag attached to it, so no real benefit for the original author. Since Ehow already has such a strong position in the serps Google will give their page priority over yours. What it means is that your work has been stolen and there is nothing you can do about it.
4. Your income disappears fast – The less traffic you have the less money you make from ads or affiliate programs. You quickly lose ground and go into what some people call “starvation mode”. You still got bills to pay but no cashflow, so you are no longer eager to invest because you don’t want to make any costly business mistakes.
You desperately need to make changes and decide which direction you are going to go, but because there is no money coming in you become uncertain of your next move. It can turn ugly pretty fast.
So what now? Can you actually run an online business without Google?
Yes, but if all you were doing was content creation for your sites up until now then it won’t be easy. You need to create sites that are optimized for paid traffic. Start creating your own products and build a list.
Consider charging for your content. Upload it to Kindle and see if you can start generating revenue that way.
If you still want to play the SEO game I am afraid that you will need to drive traffic to your web property first before trying to acquire backlinks. Getting top search engine rankings will cost a lot more money than it used to.
It’s time to get serious about linkbaiting and viral traffic methods otherwise you won’t be moving forward.
Google is a business and they are doing what every other business is trying to do – squeeze as much money as possible and take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way. I have a feeling that their Adwords earnings are going to explode after all the recent algo shakeups.
Imagine yourself as the owner of Google. How long do you think you would just sit there and watch all this traffic going away from your search engine for free to other sites before making some evil changes that would force them to pay?