Summertime in London. People are sitting outside the cafes and pubs enjoying the sun and watching the world go by. And me, I’m sitting inside writing a quarterly report with a cloud over my head because my traffic’s halved in the last three months. Well, not exactly – but I had you fooled!
As you can see from the above image (the orange line is the stats from the same time last year), my organic Google traffic this quarter has been reducing quite considerably. There is a more dramatic drop on May 22nd – the date of the Google Penuin 2.0 penalty.
Why has this happened?
Good question! I’m afraid I’m not completely sure. Google penalties in general and Penguin in particular are aimed at weeding out “webspam”. I’ve never purchased any links nor engaged in any “black hat” or even “gray hat” SEO tactics that Google is trying to penalise.
I’m currently, with the aid of some advice from an SEO expert, disavowing a few links. But, to be honest, there are only a handful of “dodgy” links compared with tens of thousands of good quality natural links – so I’m really not sure if that will do any good.
If you have a look around the blogosphere, you’ll find that most bloggers who’ve been around for a few years have been hit by some sort of Google penalty this year.
If, as a blogger, you’ve been writing decent content, it’s likely to have been scraped and will end up on low quality websites with links pointing to you. Google’s algorithm will deem this to be “spammy”. Unfortunately, this means that some of the tar from the low quality sites will brush off on your, otherwise whiter-than-white, reputation.
So, in my eyes at least, a Google penalty is more like a badge of honor for an independent blogger.
What does a traffic drop mean for my business?
Well, I’m delighted to say, not a great deal. As you’ll see below, my passive income hasn’t suffered. Neither has my active income because I get most of my work through regular clients.
The reason I have been able to weather this downturn in organic Google traffic has been because of the durability and resilience of my online brand.
When I started blogging in 2006, you pretty much only had to bother about your blog, online optimization and relationships (and therefore links to your site). Now you have to be everywhere.
That means developing a presence on social networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, as well as developing your brand on platforms that suit you, for me this is YouTube and Udemy. This could also extend to Quora, Kindle books and podcasts, etc.
For those just starting out, this will seem like a hell of a lot of work but, for me, it’s been a natural development of online publishing.
The important point is this: if you have an engaged presence on the main social networks, as well as a constantly updated blog and relationships with others in your niche, you will survive any penalty that Google throws at you.
Read on: I can prove this.
My passive income
I have been criticised for publishing my passive income figures. Some people have called me out for showing off. Also, I attended a mastermind session not so long ago with ten great bloggers and business people where Chris Ducker and others questioned the wisdom of showing my exact passive revenues.
Some people think I’m saying “look at me, aren’t I brilliant?”; whereas others are thinking I’m needlessly advertising my failures. This has given me pause for thought.
So, I’m asking my visitors now, should I carry on with these passive income reports or not? I would love to hear your opinions on this.
So, my target for this quarter was $3,000 again – let’s see…
Sales of my e-books
I have two e-books for sale:
Here are the sales from these books from the last four quarters:
|My product||2012 Q3||2012 Q4||2013 Q1||2013 Q2|
|Running a Web Design Business||$570.59||$375.24||$511.21||$470.14|
|How To Get Clients||$238.16||$232.09||$26.47||$110.38|
So, interestingly, no drop in sales despite drop in traffic!
My Udemy products!
I’m a huge fan of the video learning website Udemy. I released a course called Creating a Business Website with a Responsive Design just after Easter and then another one, Blogging, SEO, Social & Relationships: Total Web Marketing.
You can earn money from your website by promoting a product with a special affiliate link. If your visitor clicks an affiliate link and makes a purchase, you will receive a commission. For example, I promote Genesis – a WordPress theme and WPML – a WordPress plugin. Here are my earnings from affiliate commissions in the last four quarters.
|Affiliate product||2012 Q3||2012 Q4||2013 Q1||2013 Q2|
|Genesis WordPress theme||$493.45||$778.79||$76.94||0|
|WPML WordPress Multi-Lingual plugin||$229||$315||$397||$509|
|VPS.net VPS hosting||$85||$85||$340||0|
|A2 VPS hosting||-||-||$170||$170|
|Bluehost shared hosting||$715||$130||-||-|
|GoDaddy domain name registration||$5.69||$17.43||$31.66||$35.43|
|E-Junkie shopping cart system||$7.20||$7.20||$10.80||$3.60|
|Aweber email marketing and delivery||$36.30||$29.40||$37.20||$38.00|
|iContact email marketing and delivery||$163.80||$355.99||$137.97||$442.00|
|Tara’s logo course||-||-||$199.50||$33|
So, despite the drop in traffic in the last quarter, they are holding up nicely!
So, if you add my income from sales of my e-books this quarter, $580.52, plus the income from the Udemy courses, $2137.50, together with income from affiliate sales, $1231.03, you get a total of $3,949.05. This is well over my target of $3,000 and only a few dollars short of $4,000!
What I’m learning is that Google traffic isn’t that important!
I still get nice emails from visitors thanking me for my content and saying that they’re setting up businesses because of my blog. This is more important to me than pounds, shillings and pence and it seems I can do this without Google’s help.
Specific business targets
Here are my specific targets that I set three months ago and more targets for three months’ time.
|Target||Q2 2013 target||Q2 2013 actual||Q3 2013 target|
|Monthly unique visitors||40,000||22,500||30,000|
I’ve set an ambitious target for $4,000 for the next quarter. And you can see a quite dramatic drop in monthly traffic figures. However, this has taught me that traffic figures only tell half the story and it’s the quality of traffic that counts.
General business targets
OK. This is the bit where I make some targets that I have to keep to because I’ve put them here! Here we go. During the next quarter I will:
- Create another paid-for Udemy course
- Write and publish a Kindle book
Phew! That’s quite a lot! The Kindle book is maybe 60% finished. And I haven’t started on the Udemy course yet.
Here’s the silly bit. My follower numbers …
|Indicator||30th Sept 2012||31st Dec 2012||31st Mar 2013||30th Jun 2013|
|My Twitter followers||1891||1884(!)||2,093||2,353|
|My YouTube Channel, subscribers||212||280||409||599|
|My YouTube Channel, video views||106,729||143,049||183,271||231,097|
|Facebook page Likes/Fans||291||339||406||491|
|Subscribers to RobCubbon.com||5,031||5,488||5,949||6,130|
You can see how the traffic drop has effected the email subscriber numbers but nothing else.
One of the things I really love doing is helping people with their own businesses. I got an amazing feeling of liberation from setting up my own business and I’d love to help people realise this dream as well.
The group offers help with aims, strategy, marketing and entrepreneurial loneliness. The group is for those thinking of starting a business as well as for those who are already running small businesses.
If you want to come, please register on the site so I have ideas of numbers. I’m really looking forward to meeting some of you and having a chat.
What do you think?
Do you want me to keep on writing these business reports with specific passive income details? Please leave your opinion in the comments.