Standing Still in Sinking Sand

When you have some websites set up that are making money, there’s a strong temptation to step back and watch the product deliver cash in a semi-automatic fashion.  There are even those who will tell you that links & domains appreciate over time without adding new back links or fresh content to the domain.  This just makes the temptation toward laziness even stronger!

In retrospect, I can call it an “experiment” in automation.  In reality, I pushed really hard to write new content in December and January, and by the time my birthday rolled around at the end of January I didn’t really feel like working anymore.  Things had been going well and my sites were making money, so why not see if they could hold their positions on the search engines while I went back to less profitable activities like arguing about politics & the economy, hanging out with my friends, or just taking a day to walk with my dog and my girlfriend.

For a few weeks, everything was fine – even great.  Some rankings slowly crept up as the crawlers caught up with the work that had been done prior.

Then, about a week ago – all the things I should have been trying to offset went wrong!

Basically, a few domains that I get a lot of links from either shut down or went nofollow.  All of it happened in the course of about a weekend, and by the time Google recognized the change it had demoted my site for some key search phrases.  Referrals and revenue dried to a trickle almost immediately!

Observed Results & My New Theories about SERP Behavior:

Losing links hurts – a lot

A link might gain value the longer it sits around.  I don’t have any proof to dispute that.  What I do know, is that losing a link hurts a ton.  Losing a whole bunch at once – when you haven’t been building new links – can take you down to the 2nd page of a keyword in the matter of a week.

Upward Momentum is Hard – Sinking is Easy

New content in Google gets a nice boost.  With proper on-page SEO and just a little nudge to let the search engines know that your new page is published, you can rank for some pretty tough keywords relatively easy.  If the root of your domain is high in pagerank, all your new posts will show up toward the top of the results.

Then something happens… it starts sinking into the sand (box).  You had your chance, but eventually there are new posts that have to be shown.  The ranking starts to sink.  Without backlinks and more fresh content, you’re just standing still here – waiting for the next webmaster down the line to hit publish and replace you as the “newest news.”

To regain that upward momentum, it takes a lot of buzz and it can be really hard to replicate this buzz as a single person.  The cliches about quality aren’t just hot air, you really need to create the proper content, answer the right questions, and promote the article in the right places (with the right headline!).

Blog Marketing for SEO is Shrinking

Not a day goes by that it doesn’t get harder to get noticed online.  With so much activity and so much competition, a lot of good articles get swept up with the noise… they sink to the “second page” or eventually the tenth or hundredth…

At the same time, many Pligg sites are shutting down or embracing new templates that default to nofollow.  More and more “established” sites and traditional media sources are trying to “horde link juice” as it is, quite literally, the currency with which webmasters and even surfers do business every day.  Every player has a different perspective on how this currency should be made available and/or distributed, but after recent trends toward consolidation, it is increasingly the big players who get to have any say at all.

Not Enough

Many problems in life seem to come down to this theme:  “not enough.”  Indeed, few problems are created by excess resources!

Business is a game of adding value.  Here’s how business currently works online for those of us who don’t already have capital to throw around or convert into digital currencies:

  • Add value to the internet with content
  • Backlinks are a currency or proof of value
  • Acquire currency with promotion, value of currency relative to the value added of the content and the marketing

If you’ve got “not enough” of that, you’re standing still and “Hey… you’re sinking!”

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