Why You Can NOT Rely Solely on Organic Search Listings for Traffic and Revenue

Every time I take a peek into the Web analytics accounts for a blog or especially an online store I see something I consider to be VERY frightening! The percentage of traffic and sales being derived from traffic from only one source is frequently 50-70+%!

Can you imagine what would happen to your blog or business if your traffic and sales suddenly dropped by 50-70%!

Don’t think it can happen? It does all the time. The most famous blogger Darren Rowse of ProBlogger and TwiTip wrote an excellent post about his own experience of losing two-thirds of his traffic and income. He has covered this subject several times:

Do you notice anything about the dates of these posts? Remember in the post just prior to this that I mentioned pay per click bid prices having artificially high minimums? Those coincide with organic listings swinging wildly but mostly dropping. (Some have to go up for others to go down.)

If your business normally sees a major increase in sales – or even makes the majority of sales – during the holiday shopping season what would YOU do if your traffic dropped in the middle of the optimum sales period because your organic listings suddenly dropped or completely disappeared from the first page of the SERPS?

How long have I been warning about the dangers of having all your traffic and sales coming from the same source? Have you done anything about it yet?

Still not convinced? There are others who have recognized how dangerous this is. The featured home page discussion at WebmasterWorld (Mar 27, 2009) is about Making Your Business SE (Search Engine) Proof.  I know you may be busy blogging or running your online store so you may not see all the uproar whenever there is a new Google Dance.

These issues are not new as this excerpt from Gazumped by Google Florida Update from Nov 25, 2003 indicates (note that the date of this post also coincides with the holiday shopping season):

Thousands of web pages have been suddenly demoted in the Google search results, primarily on the main commercial search terms for which they targeted their pages to be replaced by other sites who, in the main, referred to the search term obliquely. Several were the main shopping portals or business directories which gave listings for companies who may provide the services requested, many were not. “

Techcrunch has even suggested What An AntiTrust Case Against Google Might Look Like. For several days now I have been searching for specific posts, forums, or pages to illustrate the current state of online sales. I wanted to provide more real life examples from etailers.

With the enormous number of online stores that would seem to be easy to research. Have no Internet retailers asked for input since 2007 when their sales dropped?  Do they not visit forums any more or ask around among their peers? Perhaps that information is not as easily located if the discussions take place on Twitter or other Social Networks or maybe it is not easily found in the indexes?

Whatever the cause I have decided to publish this post as is and hope that those involved in ecommerce will share their stories and experiences in the comments here.

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LATEST ON GOOGLE SEARCH ALGORITHM:

ONLINE RETAILERS REPORTING TRAFFIC DECLINES:

  • Answers.com Reports Traffic Down 28% After Google Algorithm Change (Aug 2. 2007)

GOOGLE DANCES:

DEALING WITH DROPPING SEARCH TRAFFIC:

ECOMMERCE PREDICTIONS:

The above predictions are far different than the results of the Merchant Circle Small Business Economic Stimulus Survey (Feb 25, 2009). The answers to this question are of particular concern:

Month over month, how would you say sales and revenue for your local business have changed?

Severe Decline        31.5% (3,411)
Moderate Decline    41.6% (4,509)
No Change              13.6%  (1,471)
Moderate increase   12.3% (1,331)
Strong Increase         1.6%    (178)

Total survey respondents who answered that their sales and revenue had declined: 73.1%

Survey participants who answered this question  10,830
Number who skipped this question   49

Total respondents  10,879

NOTE: The question specifically asks about LOCAL business. We have no way of knowing how many of those local businesses are brick and mortar, have ecommerce stores, or operate exclusively online.

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Gail Gardner

Small Businsss Strategist at GrowMap
Creator and owner of GrowMap.com, Gail is primarily known for mentoring small businesses and encouraging bloggers to join collaborations to share skills and support small business.