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Tech

Content is Still King

A lot of people rely on the internet for their income, and a large majority of those people rely on visitors to their websites numbering in the thousands rather than the hundreds. Whilst diverse traffic sources are not only recommended but almost required, far too many websites rely far too heavily on Google to send people their way.

Why is a reliance on Google such a bad thing? Two main reasons:

Why limit yourself? Google is no doubt one of the top 3 search engines today, if not THE top search engine. But it’s not the only search engine, or the only source of traffic. If you want more visitors, you might have to spread your wings a little further.

Ever hear the saying about not putting all your eggs in one basket? If you drop the basket, you break all your eggs. If you had used two or more baskets, and only dropped one basket, you’d still have a lot of eggs left. If you manage to get banned from Google, or an algorithm change moves your site to the last page on the search results, what then? That’s the end of your traffic!

Speaking of algorithm changes…

Why, Google? WHY?!

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, as they say. Google had a search engine that worked perfectly well, and then Google themselves go and ‘fix’ it, and some sites just disappear overnight. Bad Google! Naughty Google!

In reality, the search engine did need fixing. Too many times you would find yourself looking for information and finding pages in the top 10 that only showed adverts or links to products that you didn’t want. Too many times you would find yourself on a site unrelated to what you were looking for. Because of this, the search functionality of Google was becoming less and less valuable, less and less useful. Looking for something on the internet before the dawn of search engines was like looking for a needle in a haystack. The haystack was seemingly rebuilding itself around Google.

Much as spam filters cut out the junk email from your inbox, the Google Panda and Penguin updates attempted to take out (or at least hide) the junk on the internet. But like spam filters, there were occasional false-positives – some sites were incorrectly considered junk, but generally speaking these sites were in the minority.

The end result is that the Google search function should now return results relevant to the search terms you entered – which is exactly what the general user of the internet wants. But if you run a site based entirely on advertisements, your income stream has just suddenly been cut off.

Further algorithm updates and changes left more and more people high and dry – and Google now completes algorithm changes on a VERY regular basis.

Evergreen Resources

So what can you do? Stop trying to get a fast buck, for a start. Most of the penalised sites were set up to generate money, and only for that reason. Most people don’t go on the internet directly to buy something – most go looking for information that enables them to make a sensible choice.

This is why sites with actual content are more likely to have survived the Google updates. If a site has real information on it, rather than the website equivalent of spam, it is useful to a visitor and is considered worthwhile by the Googlebot spider. If you have content that is forever true, for example articles about weight loss, how to buy a car, how to decorate a house, when to plant flowers in your garden – you will have an evergreen resource, full of information that people will visit time after time, year after year.

When your site is useful, having adverts and items for sale is a secondary consideration. You are not trying to push sales, you are giving out information and supplying items to be bought as a service. Think of it like a supermarket – when you want to buy something, do you visit the (physical site) of the supermarket, and have a look around, perhaps comparing different products? Or does the supermarket get up and move and come to sit outside your front door to spam you as soon as you step foot outside?

Traffic, Traffic and Traffic

And just like a supermarket, your website needs traffic. Do the real physical supermarkets get all their customers (traffic) from a single source? No. They advertise on billboards and in magazines (similar to PPC advertising), people tell others about great bargains in store (think Facebook, Twitter, blogging) and they normally have a big sign outside the store (this is the actual website). They are often found in phone directories and the Yellow Pages (real-world search engines – and like Google, directories other than the Yellow Pages are available) – and they even advertise on TV (hello YouTube, Vimeo, etc).

Supermarkets also thrive on their own reputation – once a store gets a good name, it tends to get more customers. The same applies to your website – when you get a good name, and become recognized as an authority on your chosen topic, you will get more visitors because you clearly know what you are talking about.

Some of the most profitable businesses in the world are supermarkets, and they do not rely on just a single source of traffic. So why should you?