Successful online business without Google traffic

How to Survive Without Google Search Traffic

Disclosure: Just so you know, we may sometimes earn a small commission from affiliate links on this site.

Organic search traffic from Google is so valuable that many businesses come to rely on it as their primary source of income.

And while it may seem that the sun will never set on high converting organic traffic from the search giant, you might want to think about what would happen to your enterprise if the flow dried up.

I've experienced both the frustration and despair of losing Google traffic to an unknown and unexplained penalty (only large, important businesses get the information they need to recover in a matter of days or weeks), but have also seen how other companies have thrived without Google entirely.

This is what a penalty from Google looks like in analytics:

Google analytics showing 75% drop in organic traffic subsequent to a penalty

In fact, that graph shows the second of two successive 75% hits, dropping daily organic traffic from around 2000 to under 100. Ouch!

At any rate, I thought I would share some lessons I've learned about how one of my startups (RT500 Enterprise) has done well without Google traffic, while another (SME Pals) has been hit hard by losing it.

1. Build a good mailing list, fast

Email marketing is an extremely valuable channel for generating leads and conversions. If you haven't already, get on this as a priority. Learn more at our email marketing how-to.

There's a saying, "the money's in the list". And it's very true. The faster a company can build a good, opt-in list, the more stable the revenue stream will be.

One of the mistakes I made (which I won't make again) is being tardy about setting up email marketing for SME Pals while traffic volumes were high. If I had done so, the drop in revenue from organic traffic would not have been as harmful because the site would still have had weekly access to a sizeable mailing list.

By contrast, RankTracer is a subscription based service that offers weekly and monthly reporting for free as part of the service. This means that email access to customers is not only assured, it's demanded.

2. Turn customers into marketers

Every new customers has relationships with tens, possibly hundreds of other customers. This makes them far more value than the revenue you derive from them.

Make a huge effort to ensure that customers and clients are ecstatic with the value you offer and let them know how they can continue to support you (by sharing their experiences on social media, writing reviews, recommending friends and colleagues, etc).

RankTracer has customers that have been with us for over 5 years, and this makes them absolutely invaluable because, over time, they evangelize the service in the course of using it.

Because SME Pals started with an affiliate model (before it became feasible to offer professional services) it had no customers. So, when traffic dried up, no-one stuck around.

3. Use good old fashioned networking

Don't focus your growth and marketing strategy online to the exclusion of other strategies that are arguably more important - especially in the startup phase.

A lot of companies look to search traffic, social media, email marketing, and other online activities, without spending enough time focusing on networking with the people around them.

It's amazing what valuable connections are waiting to be made locally - no matter how small your town is.

There is absolutely no substitute for face-to-face relationships. Contacts you have met (and gotten on well with) are far more likely to go to bat for you than a social media contact.

4. Don't ignore Google entirely

Structuring your business so that it doesn't become dependent on Google is not the same as ignoring it entirely.

It is still absolutely vital to have the following (click on any option to learn more):

  1. High quality website
  2. Lots of great content
  3. Analytics & Webmaster tools
  4. Places for business listing

The fact of the matter is this: Google accounts for about 40% of all Internet traffic. It's nonsensical not to put some effort into keeping them happy, and leveraging the excellent suite of tools and technologies they make freely available.

About 20% of all new business that comes to RankTracer is from organic traffic from Google. It's like the icing on the cake, but it won't kill things if it dries up.

5. Work on B2B relationships

Even if your business markets directly to consumers, there is great value in collaborating or partnering with other enterprises.

A sudden dip in organic search traffic might kill the flow of new drop-in customers, but a relationship with another organization that gives access to thousands of their clients can more than make up for this loss.

SME Pals was only just starting to build working relationships like this when the hammer fell. But, despite that, a high percentage of those partnerships still drive revenue.

6. Build a social media following

While having great content that ranks well in Google should bring in sustained organic search traffic over a long period is great, social media traffic can be a lot more exciting. Having an engaged and active following means that your content has its very own army of word-of-mouth marketers who are ready to spread the word.

Think of your social network like a seed that can germinate into a huge torrent of Web traffic that grows quickly as your content is shared by your followers.

Sure, social media traffic tends to be short lived. Traffic will spike as interest grows, and fall off just as quickly as the next big thing comes along. But, with a strong enough following, you are able to gain visibility and exposure to new people and sustain growth.

7. Connect with influencers

This final point really highlights the thread that is common to the other points, and one that any good organization is built on anyway:

Business is built on relationships with other people.

I am a huge fan of organic search traffic. It is targeted, relevant, easy to convert, long-lived, and all sorts of other wonderful things. But, it's primary weakness is that it isn't built on personal relationships.

This is why it can be so devastating to lose organic search traffic if it is the only source of revenue - there is no residual benefit in terms of human relationships. In essence, it is your ability to get people to trust your brand that will equip you to handle the ups and downs of Google's mood swings.

By becoming friends with influential people, your site stands a far greater chance of maintaining decent levels of interest and buzz in a sustainable way (because people who other people listen to - i.e. influencers - are talking about it)

So those are my tips for keeping your venture thriving without getting any love from Google.

Incidentally, you might be wondering why I have written an article about how to survive without Google on a blog that has been penalized and lost all it's search traffic. The answer is that, we have done everything possible to fix potential problems. There is a lot of quality and value on this site, and the rest is just faith.

What other strategies would you suggest successfully without relying on Google? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Top home office desk gadgets & accessories

Our top 10 most useful desk accessories & electronics will definitely make your work life more productive. Not to mention trendy.

Our favourite blogs for entrepreneurs. Pic by jakeandlindsay

Despite spending most of my time working on my own startups, I find myself drawn to reading about what other people are up to, or making use of - whether it

Unusual work from home business ideas

Selling online is getting easier and easier every day, from a technical point of view, because the technology to handle online transactions (like online

The best software for online business. Pic by Guy Sie.

Use the best business software and services to help start and grow your company quickly and easily with as little effort and cost as possible.

Get the latest online work from home jobs

Find a great work from home job (with good pay) and benefit from a better quality of life with the freedom of flexible hours and the ability to work

3 top tips to pitching big clients

Recently I was fortunate enough to attend a meeting between my startup and one of the largest logistics companies in the country - so that we could pitch our new service.

The size of this client would almost be sufficient to reach sustainability and profitability in one go. Obviously landing a whale in your first pitch as a new startup is the ultimate dream come true, but it can be hard to turn it into reality.

The meeting went ok, but there were some hard lessons learned about how to pitch big corporate clients that my partners and I took away from the experience.

Intro to cloud technology

Among their top 3 challenges, according to most business leaders, is the ability to keep pace with new technology - like the cloud.

Being able to understand what new technology offers and how to use it to increase productivity and maintain competitiveness is not easy, because technology moves moves faster than our ability to keep up.

Small businesses, in this regard, have a distinct advantage over larger ones, and we might well be entering an age where small companies start out-competing big ones because of technology.

A cash flow statement usually includes money flowing in and out of a company, but this article is full of ideas and tips to get more money flowing in.

Because cash is king for all entrepreneurs, SME/SMBs, and home based ventures, it is crucial that you can generate as much revenue as possible, as early as possible.

This article will look at a very simple sales forecast and provide plenty of great sales strategies, ideas and advice for you to incorporate into your own plans.

Grumpy cat Internet sensation

In case you haven't already heard, there's a little kitty out there with feline dwarfism that earns more than you do.

Grumpy cat, according to Wikipedia, seems to be raking in millions of dollars, and this might strike you as odd given how difficult it is to start a successful enterprise these days.

How Google hurts small business online

Think of the Internet economy as a farmer’s field full of little green plants. Each plant represents a business, and the stuff that makes them grow is traffic (just like rain makes real plants grow).

Now, imagine that in between the rain clouds and our fledgling plants, there is a huge funnel that collects the rain and pours it over the field. Let’s call this funnel Google.

Google’s job is to make sure that all the sprouts get a fair share of water (provided they are of good quality), and that any weeds that are harmful to the ecosystem aren’t watered. All day long Google funnels rain onto various different plants in order to help them grow.

Tips and advice on ways to save money for small business

Save money with smart spending habits that will lower costs and ultimately lead to bigger profits and higher earnings for your small business.

Fiverr Gigs that help online businesses

Fiverr is an online marketplace offering a huge range of services (from the sublime to the ridiculous) that startups can utilize, for only five dollars.

If you're wondering what service could possibly offer any value for only $5, then you are in exactly the same boat I was.

Most of the services (called gigs) that are available on fiverr are probably not even worth the five bucks they charge. But, if you are willing to dig a bit deeper, there are a few gems that can save you a lot of time and money.

Back to Top