02 Sep 2006

Jim answers questions – Mistakes and Google Florida Update.

In response to my "Ask Jim" post, I’ll start at the top.

Graywolf asks:

What’s the biggest SEO mistake you made (that you can talk about).

What’s one piece of SEO advice you wish you could travel back in time and tell yourself 3 years ago.

I’ll start with the "SEO Mistakes"…hum…where should I start….I’ll freely admit that I’ve made many…but hey, we don’t grow if we don’t make mistakes (and hopefully learn from them)…let’s see…

I’ve overbooked us on at least 1 occasion. In my position, it’s really easy to overbook since the demand (luckily) is way more than our supply (manpower). In February of 2006 we had too many clients, and not eneough employees. So for 4 months (Feb, march, april, may) we didn’t take on 1 new client. During that time I hired more, trained more (for 3 months I moved into the link room). Then we came out with huge killer reports that the clients get each month that track all our time and their money, so that everything is accountable and open and so that we make sure that clients are getting what they’re paying for.

I guess that would be my biggest mistake I’ve made, but I’ve taken steps to ensure that that will never happen again.

Graywolf’s second question was:

What’s one piece of SEO advice you wish you could travel back in time and tell yourself 3 years ago.

hum….3 years ago….that’d be sept 2003….2 months before the Florida update…I’d tell myself to get ready for a huge shakeup…get ready to loose some clients….I survived it though…it wasn’t easy…perhaps I actually wouldn’t go back in time to warn me about it….it was tough, but somehow webuildpages survived and made me stronger for the experience…I guess I might say "start building a bunch of sites"….who would have guessed the age factor coming into play…but in 2004 we started building our own sites anyways….ya know, If I could go back in time to 2003 I think I wouldn’t. I needed to go through what I did to be who I am today.

….but now if I could go back to 5 or more years, I would…and I’d tell myself "Buy domains, and pay writers to publish good content on those sites".

Thanks for the questions Graywolf…

Jim goes into Florida update rant….

In case  you weren’t around, In November of 2003 Google did an update that was like putting the search results through a blender….it was not a fun time for 90% of the websites that had enjoyed high rankings and lots of google traffic.

I’ve been wanting to do a post on the whole Google Florida update crap, but I haven’t yet….but I might as well ramble on here for a bit on that….

Overnight I lost 2/3’s of our income because of the Florida Google Dance. There were several weeks that I went with out a paycheck, and I racked up debt. I survived, and now we thrive…but the lessons learned (save $, don’t rely having 1 clients be 1/3 of your income, and another client be another 1/3 of your income). I then tried to offer tons of different services (PPC, Web Design, shopping feed management, SEO, Ecommerce, etc, etc)….seemed like a good plan at the time (don’t rely on Google natural rankings alone)….but people only wanted our link building services…so later I turned around, dropped the other services, and focused on trying to be the best at link building….and started building our own affiliate sites, dropshipper sites, content sites, etc…so that we didn’t have to rely 100% on clients. Somehow it’s all worked out (yea, with some luck too), and now we have lots of different streams of revenue and we’re making good $ now.

How did you survive Florida? Any horror stories out there? (I am still suprised that no one went postal on Google back then).