Google Solution

I meant to update my Google situation (read for context). I'm definitely being restored to the database, but it takes time to get back in. My Google colleagues were eager to deal with this problem once notified, as it wasn't their intent to remove me.

It's not quite the tragedy of the commons, but it's definitely a problem of ethics. A very small number of people who use techniques designed to fool search engines mean that search engine engineers spend a disproportionate amount of time working to make sure they filter those demons (and daemons) out. My site suddenly triggered this response, maybe due to tweaks in their algorithm, because I had so many outbound links to bookstores: 5 to 10 per page!

Meanwhile, I've learned a lot about my customers. My traffic is down substantially - as much as 60 percent off its regular pace - but revenue is down just 30 to 40 percent. I'm also seeing that much of that decline comes from, unique among the bookstores, pays a $5 per-new-customer bounty. Return customers generate bupkis in revenue for me. But that's ok: the unseen hand of the market churns new users into my service all the time.

The Google drought, though, revealed that most of the new chum entered the water (sorry for that image) come from Google! My regular customers find me through lots of links on different sites, their own bookmarks, recommendations, etc. My new customers find me through Google. New customers must have a high tendency to buy from, which often has the far cheapest price on a book since they sell (or facilitate the sales of) used and new items. Many of their items are barely used, and thus discounted heavily but in good shape. I'm a addict myself.

Was it worth losing lots of money to find this out? You bet. It'll help me focus on the future in a way that was impossible to determine the right direction for without having this insight. There was no way to filter out Google sales before, and now I have the exact numbers.