Jonathan Leger – SEO And Internet Marketing Blog Internet Marketing Blog

22Apr/12Off

“Google’s out of business!” Are you?


The headlines are in.
The world is dumbfounded.
The stock markets are reacting badly.

Google is out of business!

Let's suppose that tomorrow the governments of the world decide that search engines illegally use other people's content without consent in an effort to enrich themselves. (Wait, I might be onto something there... Nah!) And let's suppose that, in response, the governments outlaw all web crawling, effectively killing the search engine as a business model. Google would shut down pretty quick were that to happen. Would you be out of business, too?

Before you answer that question, think about the businesses that would not go under. One big one came to my mind immediately when I thought about it: Amazon.com.

Amazon doesn't have a brick and mortar business, but despite that they don't rely on search traffic to fuel their bottom line. I'm not sure if you've noticed, but Amazon's inner pages aren't nearly as prominently featured in Google's search results as they used to be -- and yet in the third quarter of 2011 they did almost $11 billion in revenue. It wasn't quite what the analysts expected from them, but I'm sure you'll agree that it's not exactly chump change.

You see, Amazon's got something that's far more valuable than the visitors Google can send it. It has a well-known brand.

When I want something from Amazon, I don't search for their web site in Google. I don't search Google for the product name. No, I go to the URL bar in my browser and type out: A-M-A-Z-O-N-.-C-O-M. I ignore Google completely and go straight to the source. That's brand loyalty, and that's what you want for your website.

Now, you might be thinking, "Are you kidding me? Are you telling me I need to compete with sites like Amazon? They have billions! I'm on a shoestring budget here!"

That's a fair point, so let me use a smaller example that probably fits your circumstances much better.

My wife goes to a hair stylist that used to work out of a salon that was in a great location for lots of walk-in traffic. The problem was that the salon wasn't very good, even though the stylist is great, and that was affecting her clients negatively. So she pulled up stakes and moved into a better salon that's located in a far less walk-in friendly location. The new location is about twice as far away, and takes half an hour for my wife to drive to. But when the stylist left the old salon, guess who followed her there? My wife (and most of the stylist's other clients).

How'd she manage that? Brand. My wife and the other clients have learned to trust this stylist. They know her, they like her and they're happy with her work. So when it comes time to get her hair done, my wife doesn't check the yellow pages (online or off). She doesn't shop around for the best value (even though this stylist is not cheap). She skips the "search engine" and goes straight to the "URL bar" -- the number programmed in her cell phone. You see, her stylist has built up a personal brand. So even if this stylist lost all of her walk-ins, she'd still be doing fine.

Well, my friend, Google is only sending your site "walk-in" business. It's your job to convert those walk-ins into long-term, repeat customers. Do that enough times and it won't matter if the search engines got shut down by the government. You'd still be in business, because you have a brand. People would still be typing your domain name into their browsers' URL bars, and you would be fine. Your revenue might take a hit (as would Amazon's), but your business wouldn't shut down.

So ask yourself: when you build a site, is it just to try and rank for a specific set of keywords for the purpose of generating some AdSense clicks and sending the visitor on their merry way? Or are you creating great content to get those "walk-ins" engaged? Are you enticing them with discounts and freebies to get on your mailing list, or to connect with you via Facebook, Twitter, Google+? Are you offering something nobody else in your market has? Do you have a forum where customers (or readers) can go to ask questions, make suggestions, connect with each other? Are you converting those walk-ins into clients and building brand loyalty?

I'm not saying you should never build sites just for the purpose of earning revenue from advertisers (though Google would probably disagree). I'm well aware that you can generate a significant amount of short-term income from those kinds of sites. What I'm saying is don't let that be the only basket you've put your eggs into. Google is a fickle beast. Its algorithm changes often, and each time it does thousands of businesses get destroyed because they relied too much on search traffic and didn't work hard enough to build brand loyalty.

Google doesn't care about your business. Repeat that with me: Google doesn't care about your business. In fact, I'd argue that in order for a search engine to be unbiased and fair, it should not care about what its algorithmic changes do to any specific website's business. Whether or not Google will ever actually achieve that goal isn't the point. The point is that you should not, no -- cannot -- rely on search engine traffic alone in a long-term business model.

For example, last month the search engines sent this blog traffic for 618 different sets of keywords, but the keywords that sent it the most traffic (by far) is my name: Jonathan Leger. Why? Because that's my brand. On top of that, this blog got visitors sent from 1,946 other web pages that aren't search engines -- significantly more traffic than was sent by the engines. But an even larger share of my traffic came from people who either typed in the URL directly or clicked-through from an email I sent them. Chances are you're one of those people. Why did you click through? Why did you read this blog post? Brand.

The same holds true for all of the products and services I offer. The web sites for those products all rank well for the keywords I optimize them for. That's great, because walk-ins do help business. But a lot more visitors are sent by people typing the product names into the search engines, or being referred by affiliates, or typing the domain name directly into their browser. That's important, because if the web sites lost their brand-unrelated rankings tomorrow, I'd still be fine.

Can the same be said about your business? If not, it's time to get to work on your brand.

Please post your thoughts and questions in a comment below.

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Comments (128) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Bro i couldn’t have said it better my self, Which is by the way the reason why I always relies on other traffic sources then just Big G. I mean it can be quite scary just to be relying on Big G. Because with all their algorithmic tweaking and stuff you might blow out faster then a lead block dropped in water, or as you said Google might be outlawed

  2. Hi

    My business would do well if there were no search engines. Google throws our business around from year to year depending on our position on the SE listins. With no SEs we would rely on emails, catalogues, Twitter and Facebook and good old fashioned PR!

  3. I believe its really hard to built branding. I think I have to start everything all over again. This is crazy…

  4. Now I’ve never been into the whole “adsense powered niche site” with a lot of semi crappy content done by your VA, and I think if that’s your business you are way too tied in with the mood of the big G.

    However I do know a lot of people who’ve been influenced heavily by the recent algo change (and not in a good manner).

    Personally I’ve seen some crazy things going with my sites but and while I do enjoy good rankings on some keywords, SEO was never my only way of generating business.

    For me it has just confirmed that (speaking for myself) will work less and less with SEO and more with providing actual value. I’m tired of always be two steps after Google and everytime you got some good rankings they can be quickly taken away again.

    Let’s see when the dust settles if this was update was for the better or worse.

  5. You always write something new and people starts to brainstorm your ideas, nice post and yes I do agree that BRAND is more important than anything else. My 90% visits to your blog are through the mail you send and if I am using Google I just type your name:-) but I was unaware about this; today I realized it and it make me thinking to build more authority over ‘CREATING A BRAND’ than just ranking in search engines.

  6. I’m with google for the past 5 years. Suddenly on this Feb they disable my adsense account. I lost most of my online income. All my work for adsense for the past 5 years gone forever. I feel very sad. 2 weeks.. I have no mood to work. Now I’m taking a vacation for 6 month from my computer. I promise myself no say no to google anymore…. I ‘ll start new business model after I get my motivation back again… without rely on google or any other search engine.

  7. Nicely share. Branding is an effort that can makes us stand even without google.

  8. Hi Jon;

    Branding is actually quite simple. Do for your clients exactly what you expert from others that you do business with. To correctly brand your name/family name, Give clients exactly what they expected, at a fair price and really over deliver on service. This equals loyal customers and many referrals.

  9. I agree with you but i am so early in my IM adventures that building a huge brand is not in my scope atm.. I am just starting with Niche websites. which does rely on search engine traffic. so as much as i agree with you i cannot do anything to avoid it for now.

  10. Jonathan, I agree with you with your post that brand is the most important to us.
    But when we first start our site, how would people know about our site, what we sell, everything. We have to advertise direct or indirect. That cost a lot of money.
    You can said that you don’t need G because a lot of people have already known your name. So they can directly go to your site.

  11. If search engines cease to exist, I’ll just buy traffic. You don’t have to establish a brand to make money. You just have to get traffic and monetize it in some way.

  12. Great post Jonathan thank you, also for anybody willing to read this comment, when you provide value to the customer and can OVER deliver on the offer that they took you up on (like providing a service for example), then you’ve essentially “infected” the customer so to speak, with a “happy-customer-virus” which WILL be spread sooner or later to family, friends, and anyone else looking for what the happy-customer has, (a high ROI).

    This powerful word-of-mouth by-passes any search engine, banner, PPC, marketing. This is because of the trust that the “un-infected” person has in the “happy-customer-friend” who is spreading the virus/word, it converts far better then any banner ad, or fake SERP ranking can, although online, word-of-mouth can come in the form of a back-link, so your brand can help build your natural off-page links for you too, this is the kind of “SEO” I like.

    Provided you have built up that value/brand and can deliver on the offer you present to customers of course. Obviously this works with un-happy-customers too so build that value up before anything else, it’s an investment that you have to make, before any customer will ever consider making an investment in YOU.

    .Andrew.
    Need An Article

  13. Another great post Jon!! I sense something in the winds regarding Amazon coming from the Jonathan Ledger “brand”. One thing I have observed is that your posts have a purpose which isn’t always immediately obvious. Lets see if Amazon isn’t your next “target”. Hope so!!

  14. Here’s a good alternative to Google… open a webstore on an auction/buy-now site. Have some highly sought-after products, for example – baby products, in the webstore. Place three links to your outside marketing websites in the header blurb, and also place the three links at the bottom of the webstore page. It will only cost you $1 to trial this method, and only $14.95/month to keep it going.

    When people find your webstore by searching the auction/buy-now site for baby products (and thousands do!) they will also see your links and some will click on them. But don’t do it on eBay – no! They won’t let you!

  15. I’m 55 years old and had a great time making a killing between 1985 and 2005(online that is :-) . I noticed the trend going downhill for most IM’ers back in 2006 or so.

    Google, like anything else…is it to big to fail? Don’t think so. I don’t know what will cause it or when, because I’m am always wrong on timing. But, Google will self destruct. It’s creative destruction at it’s finest.

    As once per Google’s motto, “Don’t be evil”…they sure have been going down that path for awhile gathering personal data like there’s no tomorrow.

    I don’t and haven’t relied on them for quite awhile. I use good old Yahoo and Bing now…with the occasional proxy visits to G and have been getting better search results for what I look for other than Google.

    Great post as always Jonathan,
    Rene’

  16. It’s funny you should say that. I’ve just recently started building websites, but before I did, I thought long and hard about the kind of brand I wanted to create. Google is the launching pad that gets you started, that’s all.

    Good advice, then. I agree.

  17. Jonathan,

    The more that I get to know you, the more I appreciate and trust you. I’m currently in the process of trying to build a brand that fits my personality and I hope that I can offer something of value that is unique from me. Everyone offers the same type of services or products, but how does a person stand out that doesn’t come across as a duplicate of others? So I think that’s where I’m at right now, trying to determine how I can stand out in my own way without looking like a copycat. There is such a high amount of competition it seems, and it seems saturated, which only goes to show how much more important it is of what you said about branding yourself.

    So I glanced through the comments, but there are a LOT of comments, but I didn’t see anything of Facebook. So perhaps if Google went out the door, then maybe it won’t be so big of a deal if people will resort to places like Facebook to connect and develop their brand, or similar social websites.

    I also have noticed a few people who were permanently banned by Facebook PPC. Maybe Facebook will be headed down a similar road as Google shortly.

    Anyways, thanks for giving us your insight!

    David

  18. Loved the tips Jonathan.

    For me, brand is tied up to USP (unique selling proposition) as in what defines you?

    Something I recently learned and I’m currently working on creating mine since I don’t have any.

    Thanks for the reminder and great observation on Google’s walk-in traffic. (My own site receives a great amount of traffic by people typing “marketing with sergio”) so I guess it is working to some extent.

    Sergio

  19. Jon, I have recently suffered a stroke and had a brain tumour removed. I have been left with a rare condition called ‘Alexia without Agraphia’ which means that I can write but cannot read. Consequently I had to have someone read your blog to me.

    As I support Home Based Business operators via my websiteI found your article very enlightening.

    Most small business operators don’t think they can build a brand and many (even though they have websites) do not optimize them for search engines – so they miss out big time.

    As a firmer educator, may I say that I like your approach which definitely makes people think and ponder solutions. Of course your many software developments do the same. Thanks for being an important part of my life.
    Barbara Gabogrecan

  20. If Google falls, who will be the next “BIG GUY”? Who knows, right? My point is there will always be someone or something…

  21. I’ve been thinking about this lately – great read by the way, but like some others have mentioned, am wondering about how exactly to go about branding?

    If I was in one niche only or wanted a following in IM – I can see how branding yourself or your name makes complete sense.

    But for those of us who have affiliate or adsense sites across various niches – how would you go about it?

  22. Hi Jonathan,

    This is an extremely well written and thought out post. It also is also thought provoking.

    I have been coming round to this way of thinking for a while but would love to hear your recommendation for change. I have a blog which has 2500+ articles from an article network system. I have been having a steady stream of “remove link” requests from people who have had “Google warnings” in their analytics about their links from my site.

    I want to start over with quality curated content, without the input of the network, but wonder if it’s a waste of time with the existing problems? I see 3 options; 1. Carry on without the network and hope for the best, 2. Delete all the existing articles and then proceed with quality content or 3. Can the site and start again with a new domain.

    The site is 3.3yrs old with 1,500 incoming links. It was a PR2 put got kicked back to a PR0. I would love to hear your recommendations.

    Thanks
    Ray

  23. A good article Jon and I agree totally.

    People often mistake brand for a logo or look and feel. Brand is the experience customers have when they interact with you such as the hair-stylist.

    Build your brand via good service and that will build a following.

  24. Jonathan,

    I concur with Rick in the first comment at the top of this page. I too was on the first page of Google at the very top, and then suddenly I was completely lost. As a matter of fact, It’s almost impossible to find my site now. However, I was devastated, as a result of that, but I re-grouped my mindset and said to myself, I will not let this bother me, so I moved on and forgot that Google even existed. I was able to get past this situation based on the fact that I am pro-active, with the right mindset. You will notice that my Blog is about “The Entrepreneurs Mindset” and “Combining Personal Development and Online Wealth Creation” to achieve success. This process allows you to create your own “Personal Development Core that helps you to deal with situation just like you mentioned in your post.

    This post is absolutely profound. Even if this post was 10 pages long, I would have to take the time to read through it. Just one of the best post I have read in quite a long time. Thanks for that awakening!

  25. Jon,
    For the past two years I have been on the first page of Google gor one of the most highly competitive keywords. My site was totally decimated by Google’s latest round algorithm changes. I couldn’t agree with you more about putting all of your eggs in one basket. I foolishly operated an “free informational” website relying on Adsense mostly with a few selected affiliate products. Google yanked me from the first page and I’m lucky to be found on Page 7 or 8 which, as you know, is worthless.

    You point is well taken and I don’t know why I have pursued this course before.

    Lessons learned.

    Thanks for the post and the many great products you offer.

  26. Hi Jon,
    Yes, I agree and believe what you have written above, I also clicked thru’ to read it. thanks for being such a gentleman with my recent request re- the best spinner.
    I have now reinstalled it.

    All the best

  27. I just had a heated debate about this with my brother about this. Except we were just talking about branding in general and not necessarily internet marketing. He feels that branding only benefits big name corporations and the likes. I advised him that it’s true that big name companies seem to have their brands everywhere you turn but the little guy can benefit from branding also. This post with your wife’s hairdoos and all is a perfect example of that. I’m gonna email him this post with a big I told you so.

    • Great point. The important thing to remember is that even the big guys started out in a place very different from where they are now. Branding is a definite component of longevity. Tell your brother he lost this one :)

  28. Well said Jonathan – although I’m not there yet 100% with my own business, I do agree with you 100%, and I’m working there. Being punted off Adwords was the start… but I’ve come to see you can’t trust ANY dealings with the Goog as far as you can throw them. I’m also beginning the shift into offline lead gen as well.

  29. Jon,

    Awesome post and something most people do not think about. Site personalization and being unique stands out in today’s Internet or even offline.

  30. I always knew that branding was important, but your post clarified it much more in my eyes.

  31. Great stuff… but what I would really like to hear from you is, HOW do you do that. What do you think are the key things that help in branding, since it’s obvious that most of us don’t have a couple of million a month to spend spraying our name in the media.

    What’s the best way for the small fry to do it?

  32. One of the fellows says, ” When I started marketing on the internet, I tried to hide behind my website name. I don’t do that any more …”

    The first step to branding is hanging yourself out in the wind. It’s counter-intuitive for folks who have been computing for awhile and know the problems that can arise. I still marvel at all those Facebook accounts with ALL the personal info on them.

    But, grown up marketers know that it’s best to advertise yourself along with your products.

    On the other hand, Johnathan, you are one of only a handful of well known trusted names in a niche market. Successful branding of the kind you have that generates a page of comments like this is long and hard.

    So, I dunno. Like I said, a guy offering a square deal should make himself accessible, but for most of us, it won’t lead to the kind of acceptance and fame that you enjoy unless we have a slam bang up great personal product.

    Hmmpf…. One of the first things I did was to secure my first name, (Normnet)anyway….but lo these years later have never made any marketing use of the domain to mention. Maybe I should reconsider, considering the small empire of stuff I have amassed since…

    Always glad to see your mail in my box!
    Norm

  33. Excellent insight Jonathan. You actually are a very reputable brand of your own. That is why I read this post. I get a tremendous amount of email that goes unread. Because of your “brand” I opened the email and clicked to read this post. When you take care of your customers and readers they remember and you become a brand to watch.

    Glenda

  34. Jonathon,

    I read your article with interest in that I am one of those people that build sites to make a little money. I never thought about branding. As I read and thought about it I still am not sure that I a little fish in the big Internet pond could ever come up a unique brand to attract a following. I will kick around some ideas and maybe I will come up with one. You never know maybe I could up with the next facebook. Ha Ha!

    Thanks for the insight and motivation.

    Larry

  35. You always have great posts Jonathan! It is good to keep in perspective that Google can and is a bottleneck. It’s always good to have alternative plans. I also believe that is why building the list is so important.

  36. Great article! Sure gives me something to consider. I sell self defense products and would certainly be shut down over night if Google stopped sending me traffic. Thanks for the great advice!

  37. Jonathan is a genius. He really is simply because of his unbiased thoughts and excellent analysis. I feel more secure and reconfirmed of many IM related issues with Jonathan’s opinion and advice. Keep it up Jonathan.

  38. Very astute observation, it is in fact what is happening, when consumers, come to a search engine searching for a particular product and or information about a specific item and they consistently are bombarded with “Junk” that leads no where, then eventually they become jaded toward the process of finding what they want.

    A great example is all of these sales oriented companies that appear to be offering the end user a website with the desired information only to find out that it is not what you wanted, but it is yet another search engine, so you click on that link and guess what your at yet a different search engine, you get frustrated.

    Then you say this $ucks, this is a huge huge, problem, becoming successful in any business is only a matter of giving the consumer what they want when you start putting large corporate clients ahead of your own customers, when you do that you have everything backwards, A very wise man once told me that you cannot fill a trash can from the bottom up, that’s just common sense right.

  39. Always appreciate your posts! Building a brand takes time and focus! A rare combination these days. My biggest challenge is narrowing down my ‘brand’ to something manageable.

  40. Content, Stickiness, Engagement. It’s almost cliché.

    BTW. I know someone who flies to the Dallas area from Austin to get her hair done, wonder if it’s the same stylist?

  41. Hey, Jonathan!

    Great thought, and thank for this point of view. It is funny that I was going to dig deeper in generating affiliate commission building one site per keyword (just like you mentioned). I am still going to do it, but originally I am building a Network Marketing business, and I am doing it leveraging Internet Marketing, so I am building a Network Marketing downline (team) and on the other hand I am building a list of subscribers, customers of my target market. So those people are my customers and now you got my eyes opened even more that I need to take care of them, in case if search traffic will ever go down.

    Branding takes time though, but we have to take care of it throughout the journey. I have read once from the owner a successful business: “Take everything from me, take my profitable business as whole, and let me keep the NAME only and then I will build a bigger business in a few year, than what you could do with rest of the company”!

    Thank you
    Steven

  42. Really enjoyed reading this article Jonathan! Lot’s of good read from/in comments.

    This is why Jonathan Leger is a genius and one of the most helpful people online: in my eyes and experience at least! He walks all his talk! Has been doing the same as long as I have been on his email list: and how long has that been?

    Have a look at his business direction and the date below: That was the very first email I have received from Jonathan Leger.

    “Mark, get all of the content you need free in the Quality Content beta!

    FROM: Jonathan Leger

    TO: Mark

    Message flagged Monday, November 19, 2007 9:59 PM ”

    Amazing! Providing value back then and providing value: many times more now.

    Another amazing thing is that I click on at least 90% of his email communications sent to me. Over the past 6 weeks or so it seemed that Jonathan might be slowing down a bit with comms to his email list.

    Honestly: I started experiencing some kind of QC withdrawal symptoms. It’s O.K now: back to normal. :-) . Keep the good work flowing and thanks for all your help and generosity.

    Mark [The Genius in the making. How long to go? Would have been about 999 years to go but: three months ago I started taking action: action: action each and every day: The lady luck has a bigger and bigger smile on her face every day.]

  43. I have thought about this many times also. I began building my brand by adding links in the themes I build and making mention anytime that I can. In the offline world I tell people, use it on cards and anything else that may help.

    But as for now, if search engines went out of business, it would hurt pretty bad.

  44. Well said Jonathan. It’s time people woke up to the fact that you’re never safe relying purely on search engine traffic, and while it’s an important element of Internet Marketing it is just that – an element. Brand awareness, building your list, and looking after your subscribers are the most important aspects to building a successful business. I’ve only recently come to this realization myself having spent most of my time as an affiliate marketer driving traffic straight to a product or service without capturing that lead. Why not do both? That’s my plan for now moving forward.

  45. Based on the same line of thinking you outlined in your blog post, I decided to stop using exact match domains for my sites some time ago. I came to the realization that you are far better off focusing on building a brand for your website instead of using some EMD that isn’t memorable. Plus I think it upgrades the visitor’s level of trust as well as increases CTR from your search engine listings. After all, how many people really trust the information they find on a website with five words in the domain name?

  46. Jonathan, you are definitely a brand. I purchased my first product from you because I heard about you online first. I know that you were involved in different niches, like weight loss, but I would not associate you with that niche at all. Is it not likely, that after years in IM you eventually either evolved or had an AHA moment that took you into a new direction and focus and that led to your name becoming a brand.

    I think a lot of internet marketers, especially the ones with many websites in many different niches would have a great difficulty branding themselves, unless they become an authority on creation many website in many different niches, for example. I’ve noticed that many such internet marketers are “downsizing”, precisely because they want to create a brand and are leaning more toward creating less sites, but authority sites.

  47. Thank you once again for a very enlightening and encouraging post. Like many others, I am become more and more aware of the danger of relying to much on Google. In the end, the IM business model is not different than the traditional bricks and mortar business model – that is, provide a quality product/service and take care of your customers. Do that and you will be fine.

  48. Great post Jonathan, very helpful… as always. I guess that’s also why, seo related or not, content will always be king. If you brand yourself or your business by providing high qualify content, people will follow your site and eventually come back.

  49. Good post Johnathan, and something that I have been working on, although it does take a lot of time and effort, but I think that it is worth the time spent.

  50. This lack of branding is a big problem with the way most people do affiliate marketing, network marketing and even selling of things like houses and insurance. They brand the product or company they represent instead of branding themselves and building a list. It is one reason I’m switching from affiliate marketing to building an authority site and branding myself.
    Thx for reinforcing that decision from another angle.

  51. Must admit that was quite an eyeopening blog post, Jonathan. Now I can see a use for the domain richardlaw.com.au (I am in Australia) which I have owned for quite some time now. Just out of sheer vanity as I have never done anything with it. Until now

  52. Spot on Jonathan

    One thing I would point out is the importance of knowing how to develop a brand, and your story about the hairdresser illustrates it well.

    I often meet business-owners (offline and online) who want to create a brand, but think they do it simply by asking some “creative type” to design a pretty logo and come up with a catchy slogan. I tell them that a brand comes at the end, and is built out of a great product and customer service, not something you produce out of nothing when you’ve just started in business.

    In fact, business-owners need to learn that branding is not important, and should concentrate on producing high-quality products backed up by great service, and then need to learn that branding is important, when they leverage all that great customer loyalty they’ve built up.

    But it’s a fact that the quality of the product comes first, and concentrating on “branding” right out of the gate is a big mistake.

    • I agree with Steve on this! I think when you focus on then product and service quality. People will feel you offer value and want to return. They key then is to understand what Jonathan is saying and develop a strategy in the beginning that will establish your brand. That being said, I also believe that a brand needs to be broad enough to cover the scope of services and products you plan to offer. If the brand is narrow it may not fit well with another product or service in the future. A personal name like Jonathan Leger is a perfect example. The Best Spinner is a good example of a specific brand.

      Eric Sullivan

  53. I was just watching an article by Ryan that mentioned the cycles that all products and industries go through. The web part of the web is definitely getting smaller. Google and their arrogance will get them into where they become irrelevant eventually.

    The twenty biggest companies 20 years ago are all irrelevant now.

    Rick

  54. Great post Jonathan!

    I was imagining… Could Google and Facebook ever merge? Scary…

    Having two jobs to pay the bills and trying to build a brand is tough!

    I’m trying to use a blog site, authority website, social network site and two product and services sites to to offer value and earn money. I’m trying to connect it all together so that one day the world will know my brand:

    Your Global Family Helpers. All of this effort is too much work. All I want to do is create livable wages for all that work hard. I have a tough brand to sell even with Google’s help. Thanks for all of the insight!

    • Hey Fred, That reminded me of a joke I heard:

      Did you hear that YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook merged? It’s now called “YouTwitFace”. :)

  55. I am new in all this activities and i enjoy receiving new information. This is an interesting point of view, for me something to think about.
    Thanks, John!

  56. It’s a good point, and I like the joke about Google.. but hey, we know they’re not evil, right? ;)

    However, there is also a trend of people using facebook and other places to connect to brands. While these sources can leach traffic back, it’s not just about websites anymore, but social arenas and even mobile apps.

  57. Great thinking Jon. I’ve always encouraged people to grab their own name.com (where appropriate) because one thing for sure you can always build on your OWN brand of one and your own unique personality and point of view. Martin

  58. It is a sad fact that we tend to look for instant gratification now in all aspects of our life. We eat on the hoof, we expect instant riches, instant attention, even instant gardens! Does it all start from babyhood? We bring babies up with feeding on demand – they are not allowed to cry for a while etc. They do not learn the satisfaction of waiting a while for their needs to be met.
    We have lost the art of just standing and staring for a while. The value of watching something grow and develop slowly, whether it is our children, or our business. They have all been overwhelmed by the need for everything NOW.
    Developing a loyal and trusting customer base is a skill which takes time. Nothing of real value comes instantly. We need to brand ourselves, our business and our lives if we are to get long term lasting results.
    Your article is so true and I feel sad at what so many people miss in their lives from not letting their true worth develop at the necessary steady pace.
    In my garden I have an enormous cedar tree I planted, 50 years ago, as a tiny sapling. It gives me great pleasure in so many ways. Well worth the wait!

  59. ‘Google doesn’t care about your business’ (my business). What an eye-opener Jon and everything you are saying here is actually the way it is.

    Yes your, ‘Name is your Brand’, something you may or may not know is that ‘Your Name’ is also the brand of many of your supporters and your forum members!

    I fall into that category, when I started out; I did so because you convinced me that ‘I could’! When I start a new blog or a new promotion, your name is always in it. My success (no matter how small by comparison) is due to you!

    I have reached to point that I no longer even put any of my website information on my Ezine articles, I simply sign them Joyce (HoneyJo) Christopher.

    And for no other reason than I want them read, they contain useful information, and due to your using your name as your ‘trademark’ if you please, I realize that my follows will read what I wish for them to read. Furthermore, it is un-necessary for me to tell them where my sites are or how they can get in touch with me, they will know, or they will research my name and find out how to contact me!

    Therefore, I am saying yes, I will be able to stay on line should the search engines all shut down!

    Once again, thanks Jon,

    HoneyJo

  60. Hi JL!

    The moment i saw your post title header, i immediately checked it out because it will definitely affect us online marketers. Then, i read the rest of your post, i couldn’t agree more of your opinions in brand loyalty. How it assures you stability should anything go wrong. Amazon just has this enormous database that they worked hard building it for many years which makes their brand loyalty formidable. But, for small time players like us, taking Google out of the equation will surely affect us in some way.

  61. Actually, there is branding, and then there is brand “differentiation”. IMO, the latter is more important. It is why thousands of “cookie cutter” sites and/or PLR packages are sold every year, and then you never hear about them again. If everyone is doing the exact same thing, there is no way to differentiate brand A from brand B.

    I’m not sure it’s wise to encourage everyone to create a brand when it probably won’t work for 90% of us. For every Mashable there are dozens (hundreds?) of clones trying to “be like” Mashable. For the vast majority of those clones, “branding” is simply a waste of time.

    Branding takes time and considerable effort (and quite often a bit of luck). For many it’s simply not worth it. Walk-in traffic DOES work for some people.

    As far as Google not caring about our businesses… well, unless someone owns Google stock, I think it’s pretty safe to say we really don’t care about Google’s bottom line either. Sure, if we’ve come to rely on them for traffic, then we probably want them to survive. But if Google bit the dust tomorrow, and Bing became king, I doubt many of us would shed a tear. It works both ways in that respect.

  62. Spot on and very timely post! Especially with so many people being affected by the latest Google algorithm changes. The only thing that I would add to what you already say, is the importance of building a list. I came to your blog post today as I am on your list, and I still think that this is one of the best ways to brand yourself and engage with other people!

  63. Very nice post Jonathan, you have given me something to think about. It is important to build a brand. A brand that is adaptable if something was to happen to Google. I liked the words that I read by another marketer just today, “We don’t want to put all of our eggs in one basket . Meaning, don’t totally rely on Google as 100 percent of your traffic or income.

    Thanks again for this article:)

  64. Jonathan, you are so right. I branded myself several years ago ‘bigticketguy’ and if you type that word into Google I am on the top of page 1 and have been there for yonks. Same with Bing. Lots of people find my website because they know me by that name. It works!

  65. Nice post JL. It’s a drum I’ve been beating to my blog followers for months now. There is resistance though. NOt so much Amazon, but the reliance on Google as a sole traffic source. There are any number of reasons Google could suddenly fall.
    Remember IBM? IBM was a synonym for “personal computer”…until Microsoft came along.
    What about General motors..before the Japanese car invasion.
    Myspace before Facebook almost wiped them out.
    12 years ago it was all “Yahoo” until Google themselves came and eat them up.

    What everyone in IM needs to remind themselves of now and again is that Google are NOT in the business of giving people “a good experience on the internet” or even “having suitable and reliable search results” no – not at all – they are in business TO MAKE MONEY, and they are not beholden to any one of us.

    Relying on Google alone is like having a psychopath as a business partner. One has no regard what-so-ever for your well being and, the moment it’s more profitable to ditch you..will certainly ditch you..have no doubt about it.

    Vary your traffic sources and write site content for the long term. Do not put all your eggs in one basket.

    Imagine picking up the paper tomorrow and reading; (note – the list below is entirely ficticious..at the moment)

    “Google CEO accused of …..” or
    “Acme INC reveals search engine that is 10x more accurate and 5x faster than Google” or
    “Google investments in third world supports corrupt regime” or
    “Google investigation into anti-trust business practices looms” or
    “Google snoops and sells you personal data to third parties”"

    or..

    well or any number of other possibilities

    It would take me 20 seconds to change my default browser to another. 30 minutes to copy and paste my PPC from one search engine to another.
    The same would apply to any of us in IM -indeed any of us that just use Google to search the web….about 20 seconds to change default search engine in your browser options

    That’s how many seconds it would take for this particular corporate giant to be felled. It has prescident.
    In fact most businesses that dominate a none monopoly market go some way like this eventually..it’s not just prescident, it’s likely..it WILL happen one day.

    If you get 99% of your traffic from Google – you’ll go with it.

    • Thanks Paul, this is a great post with plenty to think about. Maybe we should be courting all the main search engines now and not wait until the other shoe drops. I will be thinking about this.

  66. A good solid post Jonathan.

    I have been struggling with what branding means – all the courses and books talk about it but none spell it out for the hard of thinking. Now I understand it nothing more or less than the reputation you build up through a good, honest professional relationship with customers. I can see that it will take a long time to achieve this and equally that when achieved it worth more than platinum.

    Sound words and sage advice, thanks for sharing this.

  67. Great article Jonathan. I agree that brand/value is essential for growin a profitable business and you CAN actually benefit from Google by making sure your brand is visible when your loyal visitors search for your brand, or variations of it, on Google. Keep in mind that a relatively large portion of Google-users consider Google.com to be the “start” of the Internet and have very little understanding of how to use the URL-bar in IE or other browsers…they have simply grown used to use the Google search-box as their “URL-bar” – even very savy internet-users do this on a regular basis. I actually advice many of my clients to increase their brand-visibility in search engines as this is traffic most likely to convert to leads/business/followers etc.

  68. Hi Jon.

    Agree with your thoughts around branding.

    It’s interesting that you give the example of typing in Amazon directly into your browser as there are so many people out there that don’t know the difference between entering a URL in their browser and using a search engine.

    A lot of people would access amazon.com, by typing ‘amazon’ into their browser search engine field.

    Cheers

    Peter

  69. Hi Jon,

    all good points and especially with the rate of algo changes Google has come out with lately. Another thing is to diversify traffic sources and product offerings to cover off more bases. Don’t want to rely on one model but spread the risk.

    Building a brand does involve having products, even if those are your services you offer and the way you do that with your services is by being honest and reliable. Two commodities that people respond well to based on the fact that they are hard beasts to find.

  70. Great post, and oh so true. Google as a sole route for customers, is a poor long term bet. Algorythmic changes, and big boys trampling all over you, means planning long term just by Google, is a risky business.
    I view it6 purely as one of a number of ‘building blocks’, always better not to have all your eggs in one basket!

  71. Hello John, nice post! You´re right, the big picture is important. I do not think that search engines will suddenly disappear because of such an event, people always will have to find something in any form. But it can happen very quickly that there will be a new and better search engine than Google or something else. So you’re absolutely right, you should not rely on just one marketing channel like the organic rankings from google.
    Best Regards,
    Steffen

  72. What you are talking about here is what Mike Dillard pioneered over 5 years ago through his Magnetic Sponsoring Program. That is “Attraction Marketing”! In Magnetic Sponsoring he talks about “You, Inc” and branding yourself.

    He goes on to say that people will by from you if they Know, Like, and Trust you. The only way to develop that is by branding yourself, developing a list, and continuing to offer value to that list. Even giants like Microsoft and Apple have a face associated with them. That is why it was very much talked about what the future of Apple will hold when Steve Jobs passed away.

    Attraction Marketing is the Holy Grail for successful online business. And Jonathan is right that once you build your list, if you continue to offer value, they will continue to buy even if organic search becomes passe.

  73. I must say those 2 points have my resonance: 1. Google doesn’t care about your business; 2. branding is extremely important.

    Branding is crucial for the long term sustainable business since there are more craps out on internet and people are looking to find trusted, reliable content and a real person when they check on websites. So, once a brand is built and there will be more and more loyalty followers, just like Amazon.

    Cheers,
    Ming

  74. You are almost 100% correct.

    There are many people who go to Google to search for the companies that they are looking for. In your example, many people go to Google and search for ‘Amazon’ then click on their link that comes up. They have a habit of looking for all sites they want to visit in this manner.

    In my conventional business that I run, ALL my business has come from personal referral. My original business changed because I was offered something new from a current customer, and I got so many referrals because of the quality of my work, that I was able to give up what I was doing before and concentrate on my ‘new’ business. What a win!

    Your advice is good. When I started marketing on the internet, I tried to hide behind my website name. I don’t do that any more – I now hang my name proudly on all my websites for all to see. If you search for my name, you can find my articles I have written over the years, my facebook pages, my linked-in pages, etc., and people can see that I am a real person, who provides real service – just like you.

    My negative is that I am not currently earning what you are earning – yet :-)

  75. Very true. But while you’ve certainly built a brand, if search engines disappeared that wouldn’t help you, and you’d be out of business. No one needs content generation and article spinners if there are no search engines to get traffic from :)

    So having a brand isn’t the only need.

    • You assume that I couldn’t adapt with new products that I could offer to my current customers. Ah, the value of a brand. :)

      • Note to Doyle:

        You have a total misconception in your statement above.

        While it is true that ‘search engines’ help Jon to maintain the products, he ‘already has produced’; you fail to realize that his following will still follow.

        If I had to guess, I would say that it would take him less than ’24′ hours to have a totally new and profitable product available for us to use in our businesses.

        HoneyJo

  76. Jonathan you did it again woke us all up to some very true words. Every one of them!

  77. Branding takes a long time indeed. My old bricks and mortar business website has been online since 2003 and it wasn’t till 2010 that the brand become respected as an industry leader. Nowadays, I am just starting out as a single identity brand with many websites and I have followed Jonathan Leger for years now so I fully appreciate the above post. Google is an essential part of my business and I would be in big trouble with out them – love them or hate them they make my daily bread, my own name brand will take a long while to even get a blink of recognition so I will keep on keeping on towards the happy day when I am free of search engines – yeah I better wake up, this dream has hairs on it!

  78. I wonder why there are no comments yet, but this is great read! true, i agree with you, i lost my business since the latest panda, now i am thinking of creating a large website, branded site, in some hot niche i wont reveal here…

  79. Great post Jon,
    absolutely agree,
    build the brand and they will follow

    thnx

  80. Seems to me, if you give regularly customers what they want ie. a quality product, they will keep coming back. So your brand creates itself.

  81. This has really opened my eyes Jon, thank you for an interesting and thought provoking article.
    I have a couple of Amazon review sites and otherwise a number of adsense niche sites.
    You are quite right of course we should be focusing on branding and building customer loyalty.

  82. Hi Jonathan,

    Excellent post, as usual. I completely agree with everything you said. It’s never a good idea to rely on one source for traffic or anything else when you are in business.

    I have no idea how long it may take to build a brand, but we all need to start somewhere. I’m just at the beginning stages, but am willing to put in the work and learn the necessary skills (and patience!) that comes along with it. I know it will be a small price to pay at the end of the day.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and giving us all some strong points to think about.

    Best regards,
    Patricia

  83. Thank you for such a well written article that serves as a reminder for internet marketers to remember “First thing first,” and “Don’t give their power away.”

    Branding is such an important part of any business that limitless amount of money has been spent by big corporations just to build their branding.

    For the small “potato” like myself, branding can be very much of a time and money saver too.

    I’ve been making most of my income with the unique branding I’ve created in the offline world, and I’m working also to get my brand as widely across the internet as possible – at least in my particular niche.

    Once again, thanks for this most helpful articles.

    Yes, I shall look forward to more articles like this from you for sure. :)

  84. Hmmm…. nothing original here. Next time I might not click through, so I guess this post weakened your brand for me.

  85. Thats sad but true. Unfortunatelly it takes reeeaally long to build a real brand. But it´s worth it.

  86. I agree 100%. I have a web design offline business and a few years ago I was in the top 5 spots on Google for my main keywords and business was very good. Lots of new customers thanks to Google. Then, something happened and I was sent back to page 3. Business was not good. Eventually, I brought my site back up to the first page of Google but in the process, I paid much more attention to my brand, value of my services and customer relationship, I was there for them more than ever. Now I get a bit more than half of my new customers through recommendations and visits to my website typing my domain just as Jon explained. Less than half come through keywords.

  87. Wow… thanks Jon for the information ur always bringing the heat, google hasn’t impacted me too much but I’m definetely liking ur bigger picture.

  88. Nice post Jon.

    We sell products online and don’t do the adsense or review-style-websites kind of thing. We do try to optimize our product sites with a few main keywords, but SEO is not a big deal for us.

    Most of our new traffic comes from affiliates. Existing customers also purchase our other products because our software actually solves people’s problems, and they trust our brand.

    So even if Google is out of business tomorrow, I’m proud to say that we’re still going to stand strong :)

    Thanks for your article!
    Welly Mulia

  89. It’s high time to stop thinking about Google as a search engine and look at it for what it really is; an advertising compnay concerned first and foremost with it’s profits. not yours!

  90. Jon,
    I agree, but the biggest problem facing ALL Beginners, would be this:
    1] Do I have to use my name as a Brand. ?
    2] Do I use a “SPECIAL” name as a brand (e.g. STUFFGALORE). ?
    Would you like to expand on the above Blog Article Please.?
    Harry

    • That depends on what you’re selling. If you offer a service, your name is often your brand, though it may be the name of your business. If you sell a specific product, then the product name or company name is likely going to be the brand.

      In my personal case I provide a lot of advice on marketing and SEO, so it makes sense to use my personal name as my brand. But that’s not always the case, especially when multiple people are involved.

  91. Well said John, I was ranking for a very profitable keyword last month then Google just slapped me. Now I have learned the hard truth that creating MFA sites is very risky especially with today’s frequent algorithmic changes

  92. Yea in regards to this .. I have now started completely separating authority sites vs “niche” sites… I built a completely different link network for the Niche sites. But I do think they have their place, for now at least. Anywhere I see people ranking affiliate sites, makes me think that could still be me.

  93. So your name is the easiest brand to start with ? Even if you have nothing to sell or market ?

    • In my case it started out with the software that I sold. I got the “walk-ins” from the search engines. Those people purchased the software, and I got many of them to get onto my mailing list. That’s where I started building my personal brand — by providing information and value after the sale to my list members. So at first they didn’t know me as a brand, but I built that up so that when they saw my next product they knew they could trust me and the quality I provide. That’s my goal anyway, and it’s worked well so far.

  94. Hey John, You are absolutely right. There’s nothing like working upon to build a brand. But it really takes a lot of systematic work to do so. I am sure everyone of us would love to own a brand. However, many of us are now aware of the process and activities, which lead to developing a brand. It would be great if you could share your experiences with us!:-) Best Regards, Somen

  95. If all search and spiders ceased to exist, we would not be worried about search volumes on specific keyword phrases and all that stuff. If your brand was all about search engine optimization and this happened, I guess that because you are a leader (and a very good one at that Jon), your brand would quickly adapt to the “new world”. It is something to seriously think about. Bruce Clay talks about link bait and making great content. He shows this example with the Search Engine Relationship Chart at http://www.bruceclay.com/searchenginerelationshipchart.htm – this page / document has gone through so many versions but people keep linking to it. Like Jon Leger – Bruce Clay is a brand.

    What if you wanted to retire, would the other people who continue to run things ring true with your followers? Its probably more a question on how to brand in the first place…

    As usual Jon – thanks for your awesome content :-)

    Dallas Kelso

  96. Jonathan those are fair points you raise & yes anyone could see the example with the hair stylist working, but many of us have affiliate sites, Amazon in particular. How is branding going to work with these sites..? especially as in most cases you are not dealing with repeat customers.

    They are not repeat customers because of any problems, it is simply that many Amazon affiliates earn their money by getting their pages ranked well, yet as soon as the walk by customer discovers the products available through Amazon, there is no valid reason for them to access Amazon via an affiliates site, they simply go there direct!

    In this scenario a brand name would mean nothing, as these sites operate as simply a link in the chain.
    There is of course the option of offering a raffled prize per month, but this is wide open to abuse & could easily cost the webmaster far more than he / she was hoping to part with!

    Also we have the case of someone such as yourself providing software, yes great branding would obviously work for you, but not everyone has the knowhow or the finances to start churning out their own software, I only wish I could do that as I have a few ideas of my own that would love to see built.
    Well perhaps one day hahaha

    • If you’re building a site simply for the purpose of forwarding the user on to Amazon to sell a product, you’re right — there’s no brand building going on. But why not focus on writing about the products that you’re recommending? Showing people the best way to use those products? Getting them to sign up for your mailing list in exchange for sending them a PDF with tips and tricks on getting the most out of XYZ? You need to be creative and find ways to add value that keeps those visitors coming back.

  97. This makes a lot of sense and I hope there are plenty of readers that it will help. You are a great writer.

  98. yes, businessman should care more about their brand.

  99. Thanks for another great post Jon! I always look forward to your insights. Yes this definitely is a call for brand recognition. It needs time but if you constantly give results and satisfaction to your clients then your brand will surely get noticed and receive loyal customers.

    Lastly, this post is I think is an explanation to one of the reasons why Google purchased Instagram at $1 bil and tried to purchase Groupon at $6 bil.

  100. Wow… I’ve always thought about this a long time ago. Never thought that it can be a long article .

    Branding. this is what I’m doing right now. It is so hard to build the brand. I alway wonder, how you do it. Great article, as usual.

  101. The brand mentioned in your article shall always come after an unique selling point/value/experience/solution. In your example, the stylist who can style your hair like nobody – then the brand; The best portal for online purchase – then amazon. So, instead of thinking how to build a brand, I believe we need to refocus on how to provide a value first. I came to your site is also because the uniqueness in your product and the values you share with us over the blog then Jonathan Leger. In short, think of what value you can create first and the brand will build by itself.

    • For me, the “brand” and the value a business provides are just two ways to describe the same thing. So I don’t disagree with you. Provide value, build brand. Brand loyalty means you’re providing value.

      • In the past, big corporations spent huge money on ads promoting brand HSBC vs Citibank. Today, we start seeing HSBC rebranding themselves as “The world’s local bank” (unique customer experiences as key differentiation).

        My point is, don’t rush or push your client to know your brand, let them know your value. Initially, I don’t really care you are Joe or Michael, it is the values you bring to me that really get me hooked up and the brand awareness and loyalty are borned.

  102. Very well said. I agree with you. The only problem is that it takes long to really build such a website that will get people coming back again and again, without using the search engines. Most people need to see results quickly, to justify the time they spend online. They got bills to pay that can’t wait for them to build a mega authority website.

  103. Great great post! Got me thinking about my long-term business model with IM.

  104. Didn’t someone from google say that ‘Brands are the answer’?

  105. It is always good to build our own brand name. However, I think it’s easier to say than done in today’s internet business.

  106. Very valid point Jonathan. Even though my primary source of monetization is still my blog, over the last few months I have worked hard on building a loyal audience and consequently I have seen a big jump in traffic from search queries directly for my blog/brand name. The same would go for any kind of product or service, if you can build a large, loyal audience, then you almost safe from constant fluctuations on organic traffic.

  107. Thanks… for the article it was entertaining and makes me really want to run away from google… I use them all the time… for everything and I had a thought just before checking my email before bed… what if gmail got shut down… all my saved emails gone wiped away… made me want to back up gmail… but it at 97% of 7.539293 GB… oh well Thanks again John… Long time Follower and user of your BRAND… P.S. your brand isn’t mobile ready… I am a mobile Developer :) it is habit to check….

  108. What made you think of came to your mind such a perspective? It would be the most horrible nightmare of internet history!

  109. Great food for thought… Do you think it’s harder to establish a brand in todays online world?

    • Actually quite the opposite. When the web was young, and advertisers were few, websites were very focused on their visitors and providing real value because the visitors were much fewer. Since the birth of AdSense and other easy-advertising programs that basically encourage the churn-and-burn, low-quality websites that litter the search results, having a website that really engages its audience is something of a rare bird–and there are hundreds of millions more eyeballs looking for that rare bird. If your site is one of them, you’ve got the makings of a great brand.

      • Jonathon I think you are gettting to the bare bones of Google. Firstly, Google has itself created the churn,burn low-quality websites by it’s business model – Adwords and Adsense. This model encourages Adwords sellers to ‘sell” the same keywords to similar clients to create competition and so higher cost of keywords. It also encourages people to make $$ from Adsense. This leads to low quality sites that push the boundaries to achieve SE rankings. The result is linking strategies that Google then takes the high road on and says some are “unnatural”.

        I believe that if you look into your Analytics you can quickly see whether you are relying on Google. If the major source of visitors is through keywords, then Google is key to your strategy. If your major source is direct to your site or through keywords that are predominantly around your brand then you have a valuable site whichever way it goes.

        The reality is that your website is only one part of your marketing. A sustainable business still needs to consider all marketing strategies and your budget including TV, radio, print, direct mail, blogs etc but most importantly reputation and referrals. Relying on web only is dangerous because you have little if any control over Google and the decisions it makes about its business model. I maybe a cynic, but after all their primary goal is about increasing their revenue/profit. Making its algorithm fairer for all is nothing more than putting lipstick on a pig!

        • First of all, well written article, John. I usually don’t follow or read much online but this one’s totally worth my time because it woke me up to start thinking about building my own brand.

          @Geoff, John’s got a point. Yes, a lot of us are depending on Google solely and it plays a huge part in our internet marketing journey. If Google is out of business 90% > of Internet marketer will be suffer badly because of failing to build their brand or loyal customer base. However, as John has given Amazon example, companies or individuals who have built a brand will survive if there is going to be a downfall of Search engine and there will be like only 10% of less of internet entrepreneurs will survive. But I am pretty sure there will always be a way around.

        • Google is the two-headed beast, serving as both the problem and the solution at the same time.

          It is ironic indeed that the company who created the problem initially is the same company slapping everyone’s hands for following their lead. A couple years ago I was chastised by the Big G for blending my ads too well on one website, and at the same time a different Google employee was suggesting I use a larger ad size on another website.

          To Google’s credit, however, they have always maintained the position that “content is king”. Hard to argue with that.

  110. well said, 100% true google always think about themselves.


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