Site Takes Google Pounding, Reduces Staff

Chris CrumSearch

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Google updates can have devastating effects on websites that depend on traffic from the search engine to thrive. It's become clear over the years that it's not wise to depend on Google or any other one source of traffic, because that source can go away in the blink of an eye, and then you're stuck with some major problems. We've seen it happen time and time again, particularly since Google first launched the Panda update four years ago.

Businesses have to find ways to Google proof (not to mention Facebook proof) their sites if they want to survive in the long run. Tell us and other readers about some steps you've taken to do so.

It's not only algorithm updates that can potentially impede the flow of traffic. As you know, Google has been providing more and more content directly on its search results pages, reducing the need for users to click over to third-party websites.

As reported in December, Google seemingly killed a whole category of websites in one fell swoop when it started showing lyrics to songs in search results, preventing users from having to click through to lyrics sites to obtain the words they're looking for. While Google doesn't do this on every song lyric query, it does for many, and I'd assume the number will only grow.

Not only is Google showing lyrics on the search results pages, on some of them, it's only showing part of the lyrics, and putting a link to Google Play where users can click to see the rest on Google's own site.

Last month, it was no surprise to see that lyrics sites had in fact been drastically hurt in search visibility. SearchMetrics put out a list of the top "falling stars" of 2014 in terms of search visibility, and various lyrics sites made the list. LyricsMode and Sing365 each fell 60%. LyricsFreak dropped 59%. MetroLyrics dropped 12%., which links to MetroLyrics for song lyrics saw a decline of 18%. The star that fell the hardest, however (outside of a couple sites that registered big drops from redirects), was, which saw a 92% drop. To recap, here's the full list:

Domain Loss in % Category -100 *Redirected -97 *Redirected -92 Enc/Dict/Lyrics -72 Web Portal -60 Enc/Dict/Lyrics -60 Enc/Dict/Lyrics -59 Enc/Dict/Lyrics -59 News/Video -59 News/Video -57 News/Video -54 Enc/Dict/Lyrics -49 Social/Portal -48 Enc/Dict/Lyrics -45 Info -45 News/Video -40 Social/Portal -39 Internet/Computer/Tech -39 Social/Portal -37 News/Video -36 News/Video -35 Social/Portal -35 Q&A/Expert -35 News/Video -34 Info -32 Social/Portal -31 Social/Portal -30 Internet/Computer/Tech -28 Blog -27 Classif -27 News/Video -27 Retail -27 Travel -26 News/Video -26 Blog -24 News/Video -23 News/Video -23 Social/Portal -22 Price/Classif -22 Travel -21 Cooking -21 News/Video -21 Q&A/Expert -21 Blog -21 Q&A/Expert -21 News/Video -20 News/Video -20 News/Video -18 Info -18 Social/Portal -17 *Redirected -16 Info -16 Info -15 News/Video -15 News/Video -14 Adress -13 News/Video -13 News/Video -12 News/Video -12 Adress -12 Enc/Dict/Lyrics -11 Med -11 Price/Classif -10 Blog confirmed the drop as reported by SearchMetrics to WebProNews, calling it "unfortunately true."

Interestingly enough, the site does not attribute the drop in traffic specifically to Google showing lyrics on its search results pages, but rather to both Panda and Penguin.

eLyrics says it has not seen any drop off from other search engines, and that they're "pretty much the same".

Asked if the site will be able to survive without search traffic, eLyrics said, "I doubt that, but we are pushing hard to stay online."

Asked if it has other significant sources of traffic, the site says it has very little direct traffic and social shares. Still, it says it's not going to change anything just because of Google's changes, but will "try to operate as usual."

We've seen Google changes lead to websites shutting down and businesses laying off staff in the past. Asked if the site has any employees, and if the change will affect that, eLyrics said it has already decreased its number of staff.

We reached out to other lyrics sites from SearchMetrics' list, but eLyrics was the only one we received comment from. While I'm not at all surprised to hear that eLyrics was impacted by Panda and/or Penguin (it wouldn't be the first time such a site was impacted), I am somewhat surprised to hear that Google's addition of lyrics on search results pages hasn't contributed. Perhaps that just came too late to matter.

Either way, other site should use this as the latest example in the ongoing lesson about not depending solely on Google for visitors. Build your audience through other channels, and diversify your traffic as much as possible. You will never be guaranteed ongoing success through any single path.

What advice would you give to a site like eLyrics? Share in the comments.

Images via eLyrics, Google

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.