Don’t rely on Google for your website traffic. When you are typing “Where did my website traffic go?” into Google, remember I told you this back in 2012!
As everyone quickly learns, it takes more than just creating a website to get visitors, and more than getting website visitors to generate business. This is already hard, and it is getting harder, and before long it may well dry up altogether. So even if your online marketing is currently working, you need to take note of the changes that are already happening and think about the future of your online marketing.
Where Did My Website Traffic Go? Not To Competitors
Relying on Google for traffic and customers is getting less and less viable for lots of reasons. An obvious one, but not the most challenging, is competition. You are probably already aware that more and more businesses just like yours have a website, and the quality of those websites gets better all the time. So already, you know that just to stand still, you need to keep your website updated, relevant and efficient at turning visits into relationships. But there’s a far bigger monster coming to spoil the party: Google itself. Google is a hungry beast coming to eat into your profits.
How Google Is Eating Your Website Traffic
Google constantly changes the online marketing landscape, so you need to be aware of how this will affect you. I’m not talking about how Google changes the ranking of websites—which can push your website up or down the search listings—I’m talking about changes to the very nature of Google search and how customers find products and services like yours. Google is gradually stepping in to offer its own alternatives that reduce the prominence of your listing, unless you pay Google money to increase your visibility.
You may be aware of Google paid search already, and how paid listings have over time taken more and more traffic from less prominent “organic” (unpaid) website listings. But that is just the start. Even the most healthy website businesses are being forced to purchase more and more traffic from Google, because GGoogle Moving Search Options Above Resultsoogle is developing its own services and giving them prominence.
Google Counselling? Google Massage?
This doesn’t mean that Google is setting up a business in competition with you! No, it means that Google is providing links which are ever more prominent than the unpaid “organic” search results that used to bring lots of visitors to your website. As Google develops and gives increasing prominence to its paid services, the free links are falling in prominence compared to links which generate more revenue for Google. So it is not just Google paid advertising, it is also Google Local business listings, Google’s restaurant reviews, and Google … well you name it.
This means that every business will, in time, have to either purchase traffic from Google (through one of these services), or generate traffic from other sources, or rely less on using the website to generate business.
This article from the New York Times provides some examples that illustrate Google’s strategy and how it is already affecting smaller website businesses: Google Casts a Big Shadow on Smaller Web Sites
And here’s a post which illustrates the latest change to Google’s results page, further demoting organic (unpaid) search results in favour of Google’s own services and paid content: Google Moving Search Options Above Results
An Effective Online Marketing Strategy
If you rely heavily on free traffic from Google, you should be planning ahead and considering the impact on your business if that traffic were to dry up. The article shows that businesses can lose 25% or 50% of their website traffic overnight. How would you cope with that? Could you afford to buy that traffic back with paid search? Are there ways that you can protect yourself, for example by starting to generate business from other sources, online and offline?
Have you been considering these questions? I’m interested to know what you think and if you are planning or already acting to deal with this trend.
Please let me know in a comment. Perhaps you’ve already been affected. If so, I’d like to hear what happened to you and how it affected your business.
It is becoming increasingly risky to rely on Google for free website traffic, so its time to consider the alternatives for your business.