For years I relied so heavily on Google for traffic that if my sites ever tanked in the search results my income dropped dramatically. The stress of trying to quietly feed the “beast” without upsetting it was slowly taking away the joy of internet marketing. Some of you may have heard of the -50 Google penalty. It is basically when Google drops your site to page 5-7 for ANY term. You won’t even rank for your own website’s name within the first 4 pages. After working on a site for more than 3 years and slaving over it to create incredible content, it can be devastating to find that you have been booted to page 5.

But I want to tell you that the best thing that ever happened to my business was to get the -50 Google penalty. Yes, I am still a little perturbed at Google for such a baseless adjustment on 3 of my biggest websites, but I learned something in the midst of this. While my 3 top sites cruised in the search engine I was making a very solid income, but I was not learning anything. I was making more money than I ever had in my life, but I was so content that I stopped reading about new marketing techniques and how I could really optimize my affiliate campaigns. I stopped working as hard as I had to get me to that point. And of course, my biggest failure was to rely on Google for all of my traffic.

Yes, you can make a ton of money by ranking #1 in Google for a highly searched term. But you had better be prepared for some volatility. With every new algorithm update you will be biting your nails. But the worst thing that can happen is to have your site stay #1 and think you have become the master of SEO. In reality, none of us REALLY are SEO experts. Or at least there are very few who are. Do you really know what Google’s algorithm is? It’s probably a bigger secret than the recipe for Coca Cola. Once we get close to cracking the code Google will just make another change.

So after experiencing the -50 Google penalty, I began to work harder than I ever have in my life. Over the last few months I have been learning that Google does not have to be my biggest source of traffic. In fact, there are other traffic sources that can drawf what I get from Google’s good graces. And here is the point: Don’t get settled with where you are in internet marketing. You may be satisfied with how much money you are making, and that’s great. But realize that those income levels can change over night. If you don’t have a back-up plan then you have not been working hard enough.

Embrace those challenges. So your awesome website dropped in the rankings? Tap into another source of traffic and don’t be afraid of paid traffic. As long as you are making more than you are spending on PPC or PPV it is a successful campaign and it is money you would not have had if you were too afraid to try it. Learn how to get cheap traffic from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets. Learn the basics of media buying and how you can get a boat load of traffic from it. Learn more about html code and php. Don’t be afraid to learn what you know nothing about. Don’t let your ignorance blind you to the possibilities of hard work. Learn how to design a converting landing page and an awesome banner. These are all things I knew nothing about because I was doing so well getting traffic from Google.

There is another advantage to getting away from Google for traffic. You are only limited by yourself. Since you are not relying on Google for all of your traffic you can focus on getting unique visitors from other traffic sources. And the harder you work the more traffic you can get. Unlike with Google where you can spend months building links only to hope that they were on domains good enough for Google to rank you on page 1.

I do still get plenty of traffic from Google searches on my other websites, but the key is that if I lost all of that organic traffic I would still be making money online. Just like your stock portfolio needs to be diversified, so does your online portfolio. They key is not to have your hand in so many projects that you do nothing well. Each week I like to focus on a different project which will keep me focused and keep me from not getting to scatter-brained. I used to try to work on 20 different sites all in the same day and it about drove me crazy.

This is guest post by J Sousa from Underground Aff Techniques