Had an interesting discussion last week with the CEO of a startup that was getting a lot of traffic from Google. His board had been encouraging him to invest in scaling up the business faster. His strategy had been to pursue slower growth so that he always had enough cash in the bank in case of emergencies. Then Panda hit. His healthy fear of Google had enabled him to keep the lights on when others were going out of business.

I have worked with a number of clients who have received an enormous amount of traffic from Google. While they work hard for it, when you rely on someone else’s ecosystem to power your business, you never know when the ground will fall out from beneath you.

When the Google traffic seems too good to be true, that’s the time to be taking as much of your winnings off the table, putting it in the bank and/or investing it in strategies that will make you less dependent on the Great and Powerful GOOG.

You never know when some algorithm is going to foreclose on you and drive you towards bankruptcy.

For further prognostication, you might consider perusing Are You Radiohead?

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4 Response Comments

  • Steve  June 20, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Sound advice. No matter how sound you think your relationship is with Google…at the end of the day, 99% of the time you are dealing with a computer program. Things can and do happen…and if you 100% dependent on that organic traffic you are open to risk.

  • Brian  June 21, 2011 at 4:45 am

    And, if you’re a little guy, a competitor can mess with your site, but Google will not investigate.

  • Keith  June 22, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Fantastic advice, and words that likely aren’t popular in our overnight celebrity culture. It’s not easy to remain humble in the midst of overwhelming success, but that’s the kind of mindset it takes to plan for the future. I think the same can be said for people who are heavily leveraged in any single form of digital monetization (affiliate programs, adsense earnings, etc). Just because traffic or revenue is around today, doesn’t mean the bubble won’t burst tomorrow…assume the worst, and hope for the best 🙂

  • Mark Matthews  June 24, 2011 at 9:09 am

    It’s sad to see friends at other SEO companies go under because they were too dependent on Google’s current algorithm and didn’t see the changes coming. But this industry requires such an alertness that you can’t help but wonder, ‘how could you not be prepared for any of this?’ after an algorithm change. This article confirms that our constant alertness isn’t just unnecessary paranoia. It’s necessary to stay alive in this business. Thanks!