As we approach the end of 2012, it’s about time for us to stop everything we are doing right now – just for a moment – and start pondering how we did things in 2012, as well as building a plan for 2013 while we’re at it.
Well, if you asked me, I would describe my entrepreneurial journey in 2012 as a roller coaster ride. On one hand, things are quite exciting… but on the other hand, I wish I could do better.
For me, 2012 was the year of change. I will always remember this year as the year in which my business reached new milestones – for better or worse – as well as actual proof that in the business world, anything can happen quickly, especially in my line of business.
You see, I’m in online business. I invest in domain names and such, but my core business is building and running websites, mostly blogs.
My websites rely on search engine and social media traffic, as most of them are content-based and updated on regular basis.
My business is growing well, and approaching mid-2012, the growth rate exceeded my expectation. My websites were getting a healthy amount of traffic (including this blog) – something that directly impacted the bottom line.
As I was working on fueling the growth of my business, some factors came into effect in ripples, bringing down my business slowly but surely.
The factors were Google’s Panda and Penguin updates.
Google Panda is the nickname of Google’s search engine algorithm update that in essence launched to combat low quality websites. It kicked off last year, but there are regular updates to fine-tune the algorithm.
Up until mid-2012, my sites remain untouched – until dozens of new ranking signals were changed back in early June 7, 2012. The changes also included Google Penguin updates, which aimed to combat sites that are over-optimized. I reached the tipping point…
To cut a long story short, ever since those updates in May and June 2012 occurred, almost all of my sites were hit by the algorithm changes with various degrees of severity. The sites lost search engine ranking, and I have lost nearly 60% of web traffic since June 2012.
Things are getting under control right now. My online business is practically “reset” to the starting point of late 2011/early 2012. Things could have been worse – I could have lost my business.
2012 was quite an eye opener
My business enjoyed a significant growth – about 50% – approaching mid-2012. Then, without any significant strategic changes, the growth was cut short by external factors.
2012 has been an eye-opener for me. I saw my business rise and fall in just weeks, literally. Everything was going well for 4 years of my webpreneurship career. I have had ups and downs in those 4 years – nothing new – but this year was a roller coaster ride indeed.
I learned so many lessons this year, and I truly hope that what I have learned so far can help me devise better business plans for 2013. I am happy to report that I am on my way to recovery.
My plan for 2013
My first and foremost plan would be to reduce my reliance on Google and any other search engines for driving traffic to my web properties. I will say my goodbye to off-site SEO (search engine optimization) and say hello to inbound marketing.
Running inbound marketing campaigns will allow me to attract people by offering compelling content and delivering quality. I will also focus on social media, where potential readers and clients spend a lot of their time- and engage them.
With regard to my targeted social media sites, I focus on Facebook because it’s the biggest market and Linkedin because it’s the most relevant to my niche (I’m in business/finance niches.)
My secondary plan is to diversify. Today, my web properties mostly comprise of blogs/online magazines. I will explore other options and get my hands down and dirty with new ventures, mainly offering web tools and services. It’s quite a tall order for me as I have limited experience with them, but it’s the way to go.
If you want to get involved in the online business scene, be sure you are agile and able to follow the trends. The Internet is changing rapidly and the windows of opportunity are often passing by quickly; if you are not nimble enough to adapt to the changes, then you could lose the opportunities.
Is your business bogged down by the massive changes happening, like major algorithm updates? Be sure to make 2013 a turning point and make “recovery” your New Year’s resolution.
Join my journey, and let’s see how things go next year.
Good luck in your endeavor!
I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business.