If Google suddenly dropped your site for good what would happen to your online income?
For many Webmasters, it would be a total disaster.
If you’ve been around long enough to remember the infamous “Florida Update” of November 2003 then you heard the cry around the Net when thousands of Webmasters lost their Google rankings.
Some rankings returned after a few days. Others never did.
If something like that happened again, would you be prepared?
No Google Guarantees!
Just as wonderful as the free traffic from Google can be, there have never been any guarantees of a permanent listing so don’t get too comfortable.
And if Google (or any search engine) makes up a large percentage of your traffic, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to develop other traffic streams.
Google Knol (a project many believe is Google’s answer to Wikipedia) is already evidence that Google is getting more into the content business.
And while no one knows for sure how much of an impact Knol will have on the natural (free) results, we shouldn’t be shocked if Google starts using more of its own content down the line.
So it’s time to prepare yourself if you haven’t already.
Diversify your traffic portfolio and generate better revenue streams now! Here are some tips…
Seek Residual Income
The great thing about residual income affiliate programs is you get paid a commission for the lifetime of the customer you referred. Say you refer someone to an online dating site and their affiliate program pays you a 15% recurring commission.
Dating sites usually have recurring fees. So as an affiliate, that means you earn a commission each time that person renews their membership (monthly, yearly, etc.).
Domain names, web hosting, and weight loss membership programs are a handful of more topics that often have affiliate programs that pay recurring commissions.
But of course you can find them in several different categories. One way to quickly locate them is to go to your favorite search engine and type “[your topic] + residual affiliate programs” or something similar.
Yes, a traffic drop would obviously hurt when it comes to generating new sales, but the existing customer base you’ve developed through the recurring affiliate program, would continue to earn you commissions.
Collect E-mail Addresses
E-mail is a great way to keep in touch with your visitors. And these days when e-mail addresses are guarded more than ever by the owners, the people that do decide to give you their address really like and trust you.
In other words, your e-mail list is worth gold.
So even with a traffic drop, at least you’ll have a list of people you can continue to market to.
But be careful. Sending e-mail is a very delicate act. If you aren’t delivering relevant, useful content then your audience is only a quick unsubscribe away.
It may take some time to get it right, so be sure to ask for feedback regularly and check your unsubscribe rates often.
If you you have a blog, Feedburner will collect e-mail addresses for you and allows you to export the addresses into an Excel file for free! So if you aren’t using this feature on your blog, get on it!
Work The Social Media/Bookmarking Sites
I have to admit, I am just starting to get into social media a little more.
Digg’s categories are very broad and best for sites with mass appeal (iPods, current events, etc.) but you can still generate some good traffic if you learn to write good headlines and content.
A little luck never hurts too (i.e. a popular Digg user decides to recommend your article.)
StumbleUpon has many more specific categories so I’ve found it easier to generate more targeted traffic from this site. Be sure to install the their toolbar and stumble upon sites other than your own. 😉
ProBlogger.net has a great article about getting the most from StumbleUpon.
Build Up More Bookmark Traffic
Bookmark traffic is the best. These are loyal visitors who love your site and keep coming back for more.
Of course, building up this is kind of traffic is not something you can do overnight. It takes time and there are a variety of ways to do this. But of course it starts with creating a useful site that people will want to come back to.
Unfortunately too many people fail at this first step.
Think of information/tools you can add on your site that would entice people to come back. Quizzes, contests, “topics of the day”, etc. are ways to keep your site on the minds of your audience.
Set goals. If your bookmark traffic is currently 10%, set a goal to triple that in the next 3 months.
And if you’re wondering how to determine how much of your traffic is from bookmarked users, Google Analytics has a statistic called “Direct Traffic”.
These people arrived at your site without a referring link or search engine, and it’s a safe bet that the majority is bookmark traffic or people who typed in your URL (which is virtually the same thing).
Keep it Honest
I’m not saying that if you never do anything wrong, Google will never drop you. There are many reasons you could lose your rankings.
Some people believe that the only reason people drop from Google is due to some kind of penalty. While that may be true in most cases, there could still be other reasons (competition, technical glitches, etc.).
No one is exempt from losing a Google ranking so please don’t be that naive.
However, if you remain a responsible Webmaster who does not engage in any black hat techniques to try and trick Google, keep updating your site with useful information and continue to get good backlinks from other sites, you’ll probably be OK…
…for now at least.
But don’t be surprised should you wake up one day and find that the party is over… or at least halted temporarily. Google has to continue to do what’s best for its bottom line and shareholders.
So enjoy the traffic while the getting is good, but remember to diversify and always have a back-up plan.
Just like you would never put all your eggs in one basket with an offline business…
Online should be no different.