Predicitibility of SEO and Falling Victim to Free Leads

Clint, who I do not think I know, has a pretty good rant thread going on at SEW about his Google rankings headed south and business drying up.

His post was a bit over the top, and I am surprised with that tone and frame anyone wanted to help him, but he got a ton of good advice.

One of the biggest problems with SEO is that sometimes for an extended period of time the free leads allow you to profitably run what would otherwise be a completely non functional business model. Too often people take success for granted and do not shore up other marketing methods. Out of nowhere eventually they pay for the arrogence or laziness as the leads dry up.

With this site for a period of time I was a bit arrogent thinking that it wouldn't fall. Many of my links had the same anchor text since many of my early links used my official site name and most people link to this site use the same link text.

For a short period of time my rankings headed south due too much similar anchor text and a new Google filter. Luckily I had other revenue streams and traffic streams. Even without Google sending much traffic to my site for about a month my sales were still close to 90% of what they were the prior month.

Some of the feedback people gave Clint:

You can't base your livelihood on getting free listings in Google. It's time to put together a real marketing plan if sales through your website are that important to your life.


You have had 1st position for a large number of keywords for years and years, you have mysteriously disappeared overnight from Google, through no fault of your own, and [despite having a very good run over the last decade] are merely days away from having to live on the streets.

Does that about sum it up?


Personally I don't like to have much more than 10-20% of the traffic coming from organic results. It have to be low enough for me (or my clients) to survive if they are one day dumped from the index.


I would look at the footprint of your site... and try a find other sites in different industries with a similar footprint... see if they have been hit as well..

Every time a search engine tries to fight spam, there is always a collateral damage... you could be in that % . and make no mistake Google just released a new spam fighting post filter


The main reason why I don't put much emphasis on SEO for my own business is that we need to be able to manage growth, and the predictability of PPC is perfect for that. If we suddenly landed on page one of Google's results for the right search terms, I'd need to hire 15-20 more people to deal with the flood... then if we dropped back down again, what exactly would we do with those people? No thanks! For me, it's just as important to be able to turn the traffic off when we're growing too fast.

If some of the best SEOs in the world look for alternate marketing channels then it is probably best if other webmasters also create diverse marketing & revenue streams to help pull them through bumpy patches.

While Clint wanted to turn back the clock search algorithms continue to evolve. This is another reason why some of the worst SEO clients are those who used to rank well when algorithms were less sophistocated. Some of them believe:

  • that its easy to do

  • they know what to do (since they used to rank well)
  • and you should be able to work for next to nothing

meanwhile their revenue stream has got cut and they are worried about paying their bills and have little to invest.

While I could probably afford to hire people now, I never have because I wanted to keep costs low in case anything ever fell out of favor. When it did I was still fine because I minimized costs, had other revenue streams, and have diverse traffic sources.

Last year was the first year I made profit from the web and I am already saving up and am still working hard to create other revenue streams.

Published: May 26, 2005 by Aaron Wall in seo tips


A Reader
May 26, 2005 - 8:06pm

Yeah Clint annoyed me so much I quit reading that thread. I was surprised he got helped at all!

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