Google is completely and utterly dominant online, in more ways than one. Want a free, robust email solution? Gmail is your answer. Want a quick and easy cloud storage solution with sync? Google Drive fits the bill nicely. Want a social media platform that’s not riddled with profiles for children, pets and idiots? Google+ is your best bet. Want to find some information about ancient Egyptian aqueducts? Google’s search is the best in the business. Want to figure out what users are doing on your site? You’d have to install five different plugins to match what Google Analytics does. The list goes on and on.
When you’re running a business, you may very well be using a half dozen of those tools or more. However, one feature of Google is more valuable than all the rest; search. How much of your traffic comes from Google? All you need to do is go into your Google Analytics and check…
What if Google were to disappear tomorrow? Don’t bother thinking about it; they won’t. Instead, ask yourself; what would happen if your site disappeared from Google’s index tomorrow? Whether through a penalty or happenstance, that event is far more likely. Can you survive without Google’s organic traffic?
A Simple Calculation
If you want a simple, direct answer to this question, all you need to do is go into your analytics dashboard and look at how much of your traffic comes from Google, as opposed to other sites. Now take a look at your profits, your budget, your finances, your leads; the big picture. If Google dropped away, that traffic went to zero, would your business survive?
Some businesses actually have a very good chance of surviving without Google. Some already do it. This happens for one of a few reasons.
- Your store relies more on a physical location than on online commerce.
- Your Google traffic is low or non-existent already, particularly due to bad SEO or a lingering Google penalty you haven’t paid attention to.
- Your Google traffic is low due to it being a competitive niche, but you’ve carved out a place for yourself in other ways.
- Your Google traffic is high, but the people who convert through it are rare; most of your conversions come from other sources.
On the other hand, if the vast majority of your traffic comes from Google, and most of your leads – and converting customers – come from organic search, you’re going to have a hard time getting away from total reliance on Google. Thankfully, there are a few ways you might be able to divorce yourself from that one-sided relationship.
Alternatives to Common Google Tools
First of all, if you want to proof yourself against Google reliance, you can divest yourself of the tools Google uses to foster that reliance. Things like AdWords, YouTube, the Keyword Planner Tool and Google Drive all have viable alternatives.
- Google Drive alternatives, including Box, Dropbox, SugarSync and Cubby.
- Google AdWords alternatives, including 7Search, Infolinks and AdRoll.
- YouTube alternatives, including Vimeo, Viddler, Veoh and the non-V-named DailyMotion.
- Google Keyword Planner alternatives, including SEMRush and… okay, well a lot of the alternatives are other Google properties, but then, if you’re planning keywords, you’re still focusing on organic search, so you might as well get your data from the kings of search.
Acquiring Traffic Without Google
There are a whole host of ways you can use to build traffic independent of Google. Chances are you’re using some of them already, just as part of a widespread marketing plan. Put a little more emphasis on them and a little less on keywords and organic SEO, and you’ll separate yourself from Google reliance.
- Blog comments. Identify top-tier blogs in your niche and visit them regularly. Whenever they post something you’re interested in, or ask a question you can answer, post a comment with your response. Your site should be linked in your user profile on their comment section, in the website field, or in the body of your comment. Reserve body links for when you have a specific blog post to link to, to avoid spammer labels.
- Niche content aggregators. There are two types of sites in every industry; there are the sites that create content, and the sites that aggregate and curate other peoples’ content. Locate the best, most reputable aggregators in your niche and submit your content to them. You can also try larger, generalized aggregators like Reddit, Digg or StumbleUpon for an additional boost.
- Forum comments. This is exactly like blog comments, except you have much greater room for participation and can start conversations yourself. Forums allow you to post a link in your profile, in your signature and occasionally in the body of your text. Body links, again, should only be used when relevant. It pays to pay attention to the rules of the forum; the last thing you need is to be banned from one of your non-Google traffic streams.
- Guest blogging. Write blog posts that fit on other blogs, following the rules of those sites, and include a valuable link to your content in the body. That’s it. You don’t need to worry about follow or nofollow, you don’t need to worry so much about keywords, just write something interesting and valuable. When the audience of that blog reads your post, and they like it, they’ll click to see what else you’ve written.
- Social media posts. Obviously, some social media is heavily tied to Google – like Google+ and YouTube – while other sites are more stand-alone. When you build an audience on social networks, you’re able to funnel them to and from your site without Google being involved.
- Your email newsletter. Maintaining a mailing list is incredibly important; these are some of your most invested, engaged and interested users. They’re on your mailing list because they want to know what you have to say. They didn’t just stumble on you from a stray Google search; they’re there for a reason. Nurture those leads.