Have you noticed a recent fall in traffic from Google?
Earlier this week, Google made a change to the Search Engine Results Page [SERP]. There will now be up to 4 paid ads at the top of the search results. The biggest losers here, are those who rely on SEO.
Here’s why: Even if you are the number 1 organic [free] search result, you could be as low as the 5th search result on Google. [Read more on Search Engine Land]
Of course, Google is always altering things. It has to. It’s the world’s leading search engine and wants to stay that way. The challenge here, is that many business owners rely heavily on Google and other 3rd parties for their sales leads.
Rather than take full control of the lifeblood of their business, they hand it over to Google, Facebook and LinkedIn. This means at any point, without warning and without you having any control, the pipeline that feeds your business can be crushed.
We need to be smarter than that
It reminds me of a guy who contacted me several years ago, with a huge problem. Jack [not his real name] built his marketing around SEO. His product was a commodity and he chose to keep it that way. So, he sold a very average product at a very low profit. For years, his website was the number one organic search result on Google, if you searched for a cheap provider of his products. And for years, he made a good living.
The sun was shining, so he never thought about fixing the roof. He was unaware that his low profit, high volume, search based marketing was extremely risky. And he’s not alone.
Then overnight, Google changed things
Overnight, he went from being the number 1 result on page 1, to number 7 on page 2. Sales dropped by over 80%. To make matters worse, because he sold at wafer thin profits, he couldn’t afford to use Adwords. He was left with an uninspiring commodity product and no margin for advertising. Of course, the cost of Adwords increases regularly too. After investing another $90000 on SEO, trying to get back to the top of page 1, he filed for bankruptcy.
This kind of thing happens all the time.
Facebook’s great bait-and-switch
Remember when Facebook decided to block Facebook Page owners from around 98% of their fans, unless they paid to “boost” their Facebook Page updates? Tens, [maybe hundreds of thousands] of business owners invested in “find us on Facebook” campaigns.
In essence, they’d paid to attract potential customers to a free social network… only to find Facebook was now charging them to access these potential customers. It was called out as a bait-and-switch move by many.
Here’s what we see again and again: What we rely on as a profitable stream of client enquiries today, may not be financially viable tomorrow.
We have to be smarter than that
At best, it’s extremely risky to place the lead acquisition of a business in the hands of a 3rd party service. It leaves us horribly exposed. It makes it impossible to plan ahead with any degree of confidence. Decisions can be made, which will, without warning, destroy our pipeline.
The paid route is slightly less precarious
We have somewhat more control if we use a paid 3rd party service. So long as the numbers stack up, we can buy our way to the top of Google. However, with Adwords / PPC [pay per click] prices increasing, this will only be a viable option for those selling highly profitable services or products.
Equally, paid ads on Facebook can be effective at the moment. However, this is far from a fixed cost and Facebook has a horrible track record of changing things, just as you begin to rely on them.
Taking it from the mega corporations to the people
If Google or Facebook ceased trading tomorrow, it would have very little impact on a growing number of business owners. These are the business owners, like my clients and myself, who have no reliance on Facebook, Google or any other huge corporation.
Instead, we rely on people. We offer a valuable product or service. Then, we get it in front of the right people; people who the product or service is ideal for.
- The first person tells 5 people about it.
- Each of those 5 people tell some of their friends too.
- Their friends do the same.
When you know what to do, it works. It works predictably and beautifully.
In contrast, it’s increasingly difficult to compete based on being the cheapest. This is especially the case if you are a small or medium sized business, who lacks the buying power of the big guys.
If you rely heavily on search engines or social networks for your sales leads, now might be an excellent time to take stock. Review what the current and future changes could mean for your profitability.
If you don’t like what you see, it could be time for you to use a better approach. One that you have full control over. One that lets you plan ahead with confidence.
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Originally posted on this blog
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