The Link Shrink Is In: Is Starting Over The Best Option?

We just came upon the two year anniversary of what came to be known as the Google Panda Update.

Between then and now, a seismic shift has seemingly taken place in the link building and SEO industry. Many of you reading this know the gory details, but if you don’t, I recommend reading Vanessa Fox’s excellent post, Your Site’s Traffic Has Plummeted Since Google’s Panda Update. Now What?

The answer is usually no

I’ve read many Panda recovery stories, read about sites that claim to have fully recovered, partially recovered, or not recovered at all. I’ve never really liked the word “recover,” because it makes it sound like the websites were victims, blindsided and injured by something they didn’t deserve.

Perhaps there are a few sites that fit that description. A few. But let’s be clear. It is and always was a strategic mistake to base your business model on receiving organic traffic from Google. And, I’ve been agonizingly consistent in my written and spoken conviction about this for a long, long, long time.

So, let’s move on to the question many sites are still asking.

Starting Over

After two years of trying (and not succeeding) to get back to where you once were, does it make sense to shut down your site and start over?

I know people are still asking this question because I’m being asked this question by many people who for years made fun of the content driven approach. Why go to the trouble and expense of being awesome when it’s easier to just fake awesome, especially since so many of the sites that rank high are awful?

It would be nice if there was a standard test you could take where you answered a series of questions about your site, and at the end of the test you were given a simple Start Over/Don’t Start Over answer.

But, the answer to that question begs another question: Are you going to do things differently with the new site than you did with the old site?

If not, then it really doesn’t matter anyway.

Short. Sweet. True

Every website has its own unique historical link/social growth and attraction footprint. And, because of this, there cannot be a one-size-fits-all answer to the starting over question. I’ve advised many sites to shut down completely. I’ve also advised sites to alter their current course and continue. But honesty compels me to state that it’s all still a guess. An educated guess, maybe, but a guess nonetheless.

This much I can tell you with confidence: by studying linking data, it’s much easier to spot a site that needs to shut down than it is to spot a site that has a chance of succeeding. And based on the variety of linking scenarios I have studied thus far, there are a lot of sites out there that need to shut down.


About The Author

Eric Ward
Eric Ward founded the Web's first services for announcing, linking, and building buzz for Web sites, back in 1994. Ward is best known as the person behind the linking campaigns for Amazon.com Books, Weather.com, The Link Exchange, Rodney Dangerfield (Rodney.com), the AMA, and PBS.org. His services won the 1995 Award for Internet Marketing Excellence, and he was selected as one of the Web's 100 most influential people by Websight magazine. In 2009 Eric was one of 25 people profiled in the book Online Marketing Heroes. Eric has spoken at over 100 industry conferences and now publishes LinkMoses Private, a subscription based link opportunity and strategy service. Eric has written linking strategy and advice columns for SearchEngineLand, MarketingProfs, ClickZ, Search Marketing Standard, SearchEngineGuide, Web Marketing Today, and Ad Age magazine. Learn more about Eric and his content publicity and link building services at http://www.ericward.com