Gawker’s Multi-Million Dollar SEO Mistake

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Think SEO is expensive? Try losing 30% of your traffic and revenue overnight due to mismanaged and/or ignored SEO. That’s basically what happened to Gawker this year.

Not to pick on Gawker, but seldom do business people get so much transparent traffic data to see a direct cause-and-effect of a major redesign gone bad (unless they blow a hole in their own foot at some point). So that makes this a uniquely teachable SEO moment. So what happens when you run web properties generating tens of millions of dollars in organic traffic, and one day you push a site redesign to the loud guffaws of many an experienced SEO? Look no further than the graph below.

How much did this mistake cost Gawker? $2 million, $5 million, maybe $10 million of revenue lost to bad SEO. And it’s not like selling mattresses– people don’t come back when the store is open. Missed search traffic can’t come back… you either get the click when the user searches or its lost forever. SEO doesn’t look so expensive anymore.

If you’re responsible for a search-driven web property, for the love of Mike, be smart about SEO. Test, test, test. Hire people who have the battle scars. If Gawker wasn’t owned by a sole proprietor, you can bet there would be some uncomfortable Board meetings with the title of “Why We’ve Missed Our Revenue Forecast for FIVE Months.” The bottom line is, never take your organic search rankings for granted.

This Week in Link Building for Dec 16

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Jeremy Bencken
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Jeremy Bencken woo hoo! another source to find my links
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Jeremy Bencken useful way to get ideas for other relevant keywords you can search to find link partners
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Jeremy Bencken Hey, I noticed you have a spelling error and 2 links are dead. How about linking to me!
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Jeremy Bencken unpleasant but necessary.
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Has Craigslist’s Growth Flatlined?

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Wow, check out Craigslist’s traffic over the past year– it certainly looks like the web’s most-visited marketplace for golf clubs and hookers has reached the pinnacle of traffic in 2010 and started to move sideways.  After years of growth and decimation domination of the local classifieds market (and some might argue, stifling innovation because of their unwillingness to monetize), this chart suggests it might, just might be the case that Craigslist is no longer unstoppable.

If Craigslist’s monopoly on classified listings truly has peaked, then competitors like Oodle and Vast (not to mention of panoply of vertically-oriented listings services, aggregators, posting systems, and white label platforms) have much to gain.  And perhaps no longer will investors be so scared to invest in verticals like online employment, automotive, and real estate, for fear of Craig smashing their business model.

This Week in Link Building

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I’m trying out Keepstream’s widget to collect the best link building post I’ve found each week. If you can’t see this content, it’s probably because it’s embedded in a widget that won’t render in your feed. Apologies for that (I’ve requested that they provide a way for me to embed native text into a post and they’re looking into it)– in the meantime, please check out http://www.websimple.com/blog/this-week-in-link-building

Custom Search Engine for WordPress PHP Devs

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Below is a simple Google Custom Search Engine that searches codex.wordpress.com, stackoverflow.com, php.net, and w3schools.com

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