There is only one thing you can count on when building an internet based business, you can count on: Change.
If You Do Not Change, You Can Become Extinct – Spencer Johnson
Reflecting back on the 7 years that I’ve been blogging, I’d would absolutely agree that things change constantly. The blogging world has changed immensely since I started:
- Engagement has moved from blog comments to social media
- Blogging is now more about the blogger than the blog itself
- Blogging is more formal and professional – People expect high quality content, and not just a rant or a summary of what you had for dinner
- Google has become the single search engine of focus and they control the internet.
I see change almost daily as I read social media updates and read new articles from other bloggers. All of this change reminded me of a book I read way back in the early 90s: Who Moved My Cheese?
Who moved my cheese?
If you haven’t read the book, the story is about two people and two mice in a maze. They stumble upon a large amount of cheese and live happily until one day the cheese is gone. The two mice quickly move on, expecting that the cheese wouldn’t last. The mice also quickly find a newer and even bigger cheese.
The two humans remain where the old cheese was, going from shock to anger to fear. They keep waiting for the old cheese to return, and not eating. One of them eventually decides to move on to look for new cheese, while the other still struggles. Finally they do, and find an even bigger cheese where the mice are. But note, the mice had been eating it much longer. One of the humans shares some important lessons about change through some writing left on a wall (The writing on the wall):
Change Happens – They Keep Moving The Cheese
Anticipate Change – Get Ready For The Cheese To Move
Monitor Change – Smell The Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old
Adapt To Change Quickly – The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese
Change – Move With The Cheese
Enjoy Change! – Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese!
Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again- They Keep Moving The Cheese.
I’m sure you see the metaphor here. The maze represents life, the cheese happiness and prosperity, and the mice and two people represent different individuals and how they deal with change.
If you’ve not read it, it really is a good and quick read. The story always serves as a great reminder of how to handle things when they change or when things don’t work out the way you had planned. The book is sitting right next to me in my book shelf as I write this, along side a number of other great reads.
Alright….Who moved my blogging cheese?
Perhaps you might be wondering how in the heck cheese applies to blogging (other than making for a great snack with crackers while writing). I love a good metaphor…The maze represents the internet, the cheese traffic and income, and the mice and two people are various bloggers or web masters. But I’ll bet most of you figured that out already.
Have you ever asked yourself who moved my blogging cheese? Of course I don’t mean that question word for word, but a similar type question? This type of question often occurs as the result of one of the following:
- When Google makes an algorithm change and they suddenly see a huge drop in traffic and or revenue.
- When an advertising network goes out of business or gets shutdown by a new owner
- When high earning affiliate program gets shutdown or restricted
- When social media makes changes that have large negative impacts to traffic – Facebook comes to mind…
- Your favorite RSS reader gets cancelled…
There are, of course, many many others.
When some type of change negatively impacts a blog or website, many bloggers sit around asking: “Who the heck moved my blogging cheese?” or “Why did they do this?”. The change literally freezes them and keeps them from moving forward.
See, while those same bloggers are sitting around lamenting about the change, many others are moving forward. The longer you lament, the more your competition will get ahead.
Let’s reflect back on the “Writings on the wall”, and apply them to blogging:
Accept that Change Happens
Face it, things on the internet change, and often at a very rapid pace. Some times these changes can have large negative impacts to our blogs. Never fail to remind yourself that change happens. The blogging cheese will constantly move. Knowing and accepting this allows you to anticipate it and plan for it.
Google is fairly open about their algorithm changes, at least at a high level. Pay attention to those changes, consider the impact, and be ready for the change when it occurs. Social media is a great way to anticipate and understand change, especially if you follow Google staff, SEO experts, and other bloggers.
Also ask yourself: Are you doing the same old things or branching out and trying new things?
Are you monitoring changes? Are you seeing new things appear on the blogging horizon? Are you learning about them and then trying them out early? Have you tried video? Are you on Google+ and Pinterest? Have you looked at the new MySpace? Have you done a Slideshare presentation? Tried Vine or Instagram videos?
You should be.
Quickly adapt to change
Not that this has ever happened to anyone…
But let’s say you wake up one morning, and head over the Google Analytics to check out your blog stats. To your shock, you see that your traffic is down 25%. A little more digging shows that a main keyword you ranked in the top 10 for, you now rank below 30 for. You see that four other sites are now suddenly in the top 10, all spammy low quality sites.
What do you do? Sure you research the issue a bit and see if perhaps something is wrong with your blog or some algorithm change went live that would negatively impact you. By the way, the best way to see if something is wrong with your blog is to head over to Google Webmaster tools. But be prepared, you might not even find the answer there. Outside of that, there really isn’t anything you can do. The change is out of your scope of control.
I have a site that was de-ranked for it’s primary traffic keyword about a year ago. I suddenly went from #4 to not ranked at all by Google, almost over night and for no apparent reason. I spent months trying to figure out what happened. Nothing in Webmaster tools, no emails form Google, nothing.
My lesson: Research it, try to see if something is wrong, but don’t spend months on it. Let it go, and find new cheese. I actually ended up hurting myself more by not letting it go.
When your blogging cheese is gone, move along. Not standing around waiting for your cheese to suddenly return is incredibly important and will save you wasted time.
Using my example, I should have just changed to another primary keyword – but I didn’t. I literally kept waiting for it to be restored, and all the while getting mad at Google for screwing me.
Enjoy the Change
Here’s the best part of moving on and changing: In most all cases the change is better!
Not only is the process of changing fun and exciting, once you make the change you’ll discover that things are often better than they were before. I’ve seen this trend recently on my older niche sites. The approach that I was using worked great 3-4 years go, but in today’s world resulted in a slow decline in traffic and conversions. So I changed my approach, using Google’s recommended strategies. My traffic and conversions are on the rise.
Update 4/21/2013 – Seems the Google tides changed once again, and that same site was pretty much completely de-ranked. That coupled with a drop in search volume just didn’t make the site worth maintaining anymore, and thus I shut it down.
I also find that by changing my approach, I get to learn new things and learn new perspectives. Change in the short term can be painful, but change in the long term is fun, and often very profitable.
Remember, the cheese will keep moving
You changed your approach, embraced the change and now you’re enjoying all that new traffic, engagement, and earnings. Sit back and count your money right?
Don’t forget, you may wake up tomorrow morning, and cheese is once again gone. Sure, it may not be gone tomorrow, or the next day, or even the next month, but one day, it will be gone.
Always keep that in mind – the cheese will keep moving. Expect it, watch for it, plan for it, and embrace it when it does. Don’t sit around looking for it.
Photo by: loveisabeautifulthing