In my opinion, one of the 'Golden Rules' of Internet marketing has to be the following:
'Once you have uploaded a website, you should leave it online forever - even if it is only making you a couple of dollars a month.'
As long as you are covering the hosting and domain registration fees each year (maximum of a couple of dollars a month), then why take the site offline? Admittedly if the site is causing you hours of work every week and still only making you a couple of dollars income each month, then yes, remove it. But if the site involves you in no work (for example if it sells an eBook or you generate Adsense income etc from it, then why remove it?)
The point is that whilst the site in question may only be generating a small amount today, you never know what might happen tomorrow?..
This principle has been illustrated to me in a pretty big way during the past week and this is the sole reason that it is fresh in my mind and I want to share the experience with you so that you don't make the mistake that I very nearly made.
I have a site which I built about three years ago. It was a bit of an experiment and not connected to my main income-earning sites in any way. The site covered a topic that was pretty competitive online - an industry for which top search engine rankings were exceptionally hard to get. As I say, it was an experiment and I didn't really expect the site to make me much money - which was a good thing as it meant that I wasn't too disappointed when it didn't! :-)
After a few months of receiving no traffic, the site was eventually picked up by a couple of the major search engines and it started to receive a handful of visitors each day. I guess on a very good day I would get 45 referrals. Needless to say, the site wasn't making a fortune in income but something is always better than nothing.
Anyway at the beginning of this year I undertook a review of all of my websites and made the decision to ditch a few of the under-performing sites. This is where I nearly made a big mistake by deleting my little site but for whatever reason, the site in question managed to survive my 'cull'. It was a close call but in the end I decided that even though the site was only making $20 or $30 a month, it wasn't involving me in any work so it would be stupid to turn it off just for the sake of it.
So the site remained online and up until last week, it continued to tick over as it has done for the past three years, earning a minimal income every month from the few visitors that manage to find it.
That all changed last Thursday however when Google suddenly decided that my little experiment site was far more valuable than it had previously thought. Yup, Google decided that instead of listing my site way down the rankings for one or two low-level keywords, it would index the site at the top of the rankings (quite literally in first place in many instances) for numerous high-level keywords! :-)
Result? The site has gone from receiving an average of 35 visitors a day from Google to receiving over 500 visitors per day. On the busiest day this week, Google kindly sent the site just under 800 visitors.
Of course, this is great news and the site is already making considerably more profit than it has ever done but just look at how I would have missed out if I had taken the site offline. Remember, this is a site that I have barely touched in three years and I certainly haven't spent any time optimizing the site for the search engines. It is just a simple case of Google changing their algorithm in a way that favours my site considerably. This is one of those situations which could happen to any website at any time and this is the main reason why I say, once you have a site online, leave it there.
Clearly there is no guarantee that my site is going to stay at the top of Google for any length of time and given my experience of how search engines work, I am prepared for it to drop back down the index at any time but I am certainly enjoying the extra traffic while it lasts.
The above situation also illustrates how fickle search engines can be. Longer term readers will remember that I took the decision not to bother chasing search engine rankings some time ago. This decision was taken after Google decided to move one of my highly optimized sites from top position for countless keywords to about 20th position. This was a site which I had spent weeks optimizing and a site which had held top positions for over two years. Traffic to this site dropped away in hours and that was the point at which I vowed not to waste my time chasing search engine rankings and instead, would just let the search engines sort themselves out and rank my sites as they saw fit.
Sometimes this approach works and sometimes it doesn't - I try not to let it worry me either way...
Copyright 2005 Richard Grady
Richard Grady has been helping ordinary people earn online since 1998. He writes a free newsletter which is published every two weeks. To subscribe (and claim your free gifts), visit: http://www.thetraderonline.com/newsletter.html