I'm A Slave To You (Google)

I’m a fan of Google.  Not a fanboy, per se, they can certainly do things poorly (see most of their products which aren’t search- or advertising-driven) and I wouldn’t buy the stock anywhere near where it is right now.  But as a business owner, they’re very useful to me.  I use Analytics to do my analysis of how my changes to the webpage are working, Sitemaps to make sure I’m doing decently on Google searches, AdWords to generate about 10% of my traffic and sales, and Checkout is getting a solid 50% of my customers since I rolled it out.  So that is pretty good.

What isn’t so good?  Well, to be perfectly candid, I’m dependent on Google.   Google properties send me 65% of my web traffic and account for over half of my sales.  That percentage is going up since Microsoft recently tweaked their algorithms and sent my ranking down for many of my most valuable search terms on MSN.  If Google ever tweaks their algorithms in a similar fashion, I’m 31 flavors of screwed.

So where does this leave me?  Fortunately, it leaves me with a day job.  Bingo Card Creator could close up shop tomorrow night and while I’d regret it I’d still be able to pay the rent, buy food, and save for retirement (although less than I am now).  But the idea of having my business at the mercy of one player who is not me is rather disconcerting, and since I have eventual dreams of having my business(es) be my day job, I have to figure out a solution for this.

Some options:

Diversify CPC providers.  I’ve been planning on getting AdCenter up for a while now, might as well start that this weekend if I have a few hours free.  I tried YSM (Yahoo Search Marketing) before their recent update and the experience was beyond terrible — anyone know if they’ve improved?

Have backup plans.   In the event of catastrophic failure at Google Checkout I can be recovered in under 45 seconds, because switching to 100% Paypal would take me 5 seconds in e-junkie’s control panel.  (In the event of a catastrophic failure at e-junkie… I’m probably borked.  I have a script set up to deploy an eSellerate-based website at the touch of a button, but I’d really hate to be in that position.)

Improve Yahoo/MSN’s search marketshare.  Oh, wait, thats not an option because its out of my control.  This is really the crux of my problem: Google is an absolute titan in the organic search market (at least in the US, where most of my customers live).  If there were some secret sauce I could use to improve my ranking on MSN I’d certainly use it, but for equivalent rankings on identical search terms Google gives much, much better traffic than MSN and Yahoo.

Have more ways to aquire customers than search.  Well, I do get a sizeable portion of my customers from download sites.  Aside from that, I get some from teaching sites and some more from word of mouth among my users.  Unfortunately, when my users tell their friends to go download Bingo Card Creator, their friends Google for it.  D’oh!

No Responses to “I'm A Slave To You (Google)”

  1. Dharmesh Shah January 25, 2007 at 12:33 am #

    Excellent article. I’ve worried about living in the land of Google myself (though currently, I still haven’t launched my product so not as vulnreable — yet).

    One thought on point #3: Perhaps there can be a grassroots effort to test the new version of Yahoo! (and Microsoft when it’s ready) and provide objective reviews of how it fares. I think too many people are caught up in the convenience of Google and don’t understand the risks. A few bloggers in the software sector might create at least a small blip. You never know… (Google itself initially became popular due to some vocal early adopters).

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