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|The State of the Internet (2013) - Summarised perspectives.|
My personal observations, and summary of information taken from a number of forums, and the personal observations of 20 or so webmasters with a combined traffic of 10s of millions of visits per day.
I've tried (my best) to summarise what I've seen in relation to this, and not editoralise too much.
Disclaimer to newer folk: Take this for what it is, a set of observations - somewhat muddied by our personal experience and expectations. We do not work for Google, we only have part of the picture.
A fairly clear pattern has emerged: The fight against spam was HUGE. At some level Google failed to react to the crossfire generated, and collateral damage. It hit widely, but no one more than UGC (User Generated Content). In part made possible by the narrowed gathering of, and seeming reluctance to consider, wider-perspective webmaster feedback.
Why all this UGC?
We are normally an order of magnitude bigger than everyone else. Things hit us first and more noticeably. Our area is 'gray', both quality and otherwise. We fight SPAM at the site level and tend to see updates before others do (due to our reach and size). In some regards, we may signal what's to come for SMEs (small and medium enterprises).
UGC site owners are hurting (pretty much across the board).
Even StackOverflow seems to have been hit in 2013 (according to alexa*)
"Too many updates, they're being careless." - 500 a year according to Matt.
WebmasterWorld (alexa* again) declining since 2011 (it's safe, don't worry, we all love it here!)
Reported: Perhaps a general decline in search traffic via Google (now at #2 spot on Alexa - Facebook #1)
Quality doesn't seem to be much of a factor. Many authorities hit hard.
No clear examples (so far) of older UGC that survived.
Examples of things like 'blank' sites, double H1, '2005 black hat SEO' making it into the top 10 (a lot of this seems to be done at the bottom of the page) Read the thread, it's quite entertaining*
Bing showing very different results.
Panda provided a boost for a lot of us UGC. I saw my traffic rise through 2011-2012. (21.5 nov 12 corrected that.)
(Unsure) Custom software, or updating your look may have resulted in another inadvertant penalty (*cross-fire, sticking your neck out)
Non-UGC: Manual adjustments for keyphrases patching and semi-correcting the problem here and there.
"Hard to say where traffic drops are occuring, it's just 'everywhere'"
Links are at the centre of this storm. UGC Webmasters forced to No-Follow everything meant organic user preference from the wider audience was lost. Hurts everyone.
The google product forums have unintentionally become an abysmal way to keep us from getting answers. (Our experience as we ventured in there recently to hunt down some answers)
Brands may not be favoured, but at this level of chaos - they're more likely to survive it.
According to some people: Black hat has become non-viable. If that's true, it may have been done by over-reaching on too many signal patterns.
I've left a lot out (paid links), as I haven't personally been following it. This is just my own meandering personal perspective.
* "Cross-fire collateral damage." In a time when bullets are flying around you, keep your head down. In web terms, that would mean blending in with the crowd. "Use traditional software, don't do anything custom-made. No-Follow every link." That's not a great situation, that hurts everyone.
* Alexa works pretty well (in my experience) for large sites - those of us in the top 10,000
* Some entertainment: [webmasterworld.com...]
Fully personal opinion
I'm a white hat SEO, for 15 years. First website made in 1994. IMHO: Good content has never been hit so hard, and to this extent. Some may argue, the current state of affairs will result in the loss of smaller deserving businesses, those without the deep pockets to survive turmoil to this degree.
IMHO Focus on content, even now. Nothing else has a longer-term chance of survival.
I don't believe any of this is intentional on Google's part, I believe them when they say they don't favour brands. PPC would be a better place for brands in general (they are used to that and can afford it, everyone wins). Leave organic to a fair mix of SME and brand - then the ad space used above the SERPs would be acceptable.
Question to the community
Do we need, as a community, to establish better dialogue with Google? If so, a proper way to do that. To keep the signal to noise ratio down. Real Googlers participating, hundreds (not 2). I believe some inside the web-spam team might agree, please speak up.
[edited by: goodroi at 1:18 pm (utc) on Jun 12, 2013]
[edit reason] per author's request, added question to the community [/edit]
I've all but given up on 2 of my businesses that rely on Google for traffic, I really can't be bothered wasting another 2 years trying to figure out what they want from us.
Building an SaaS app now that doesn't rely on organic traffic to grow but WoM instead. Sad state of affairs, but I know quite a few who are in the same boat - it's like trying to fix a broken engine without a manual & your car model keeps changing when you go to pick up another tool.
I'm convinced the Webspam team don't want the situation you've described. They appear to be simply overwhelmed (from my limited perspective outside of the Plex)
Your analogy is apt, it is precisely how many of us feel. In the end your ranking should reflect the quality of information you offer. Nothing else matters and our focus should be on the complex day-to-day building of new and exciting infrastructure / content.
We need dialogue, and for some of us sooner than later. The internet seems to be losing a significant amount of SMEs and hobbyists. Those that could otherwise contribute to the next-great-iteration of the internet experience.
|I'm convinced the Webspam team don't want the situation you've described |
I believe that to. In the last 2-3 weeks, culminating in SMX I have never been confronted with so much transparency on changes and plans. And I don't recall such guidance on fixing a "penalty" [ Penguin ], or a softening of a roll out [ Panda ] to permit "gray" area sites to return. Never have tools been responded to so quickly to, from what I recollect in answer to requests from webmasters [ disavow and now bad link examples].
It looks like Google is having to better balance aggressive changes in what Matt Cutt's terms a "transition". Well the transition that Google has experienced in financial terms [ reported in filings re Panda ] is equal to what folks have experienced of course.
Google's entire strategy to be sustainable is to ensure that users have a great experience and keep returning to the SERP's to provide them with a viable advertising platform. That makes sense.
But to do this they need partnership and participation with site owners. I really don't want to appear to rant, it's not constructive, but the fact is the range and rate of change on Google and the economics are very challenging for internet publishers as a whole to adapt to with depleted revenues and lagging skillsets.
With 500 algo changes a year, some are becoming more disruptive across the spectrum of technology than we've ever seen IMO. Now we have fuller transparency. How do folks handle that ?
[edited by: Whitey at 2:35 pm (utc) on Jun 12, 2013]
|Nothing else matters and our focus should be on the complex day-to-day building of new and exciting infrastructure / content. |
Before panda I spent 95% of my time on creating content and maybe 5% on SEO. I had a great website (started in 2001) with many returning visitors.
Since the first Panda I spend something like 20% of my time on creating content and 80% on trying to find out what I possibly could have done wrong and what Google really wants.
ALL my time in development is now spent on creating websites that have zero dependency on search traffic.
Its the only long term option in my opinion.
I still do well with existing sites, but they can wipe you out instantly.
The State of the Internet is maybe a misleading title, Google isn't the Internet, well not yet. That aside you make some interesting points regarding UGC. Brands have been boosted across the board on Google and SME's running specialist websites are beeing squeezed out of the very markets they created online.
I just wonder if this will backfire for Google as SME's adapt by channeling more of their sales through the likes of Amazon and Ebay. Certainly the ROI is better via this root than through adwords IMO. If Google loose SME's I think it will hit revenue hard as Brands often don't advertise much on Google.
Short term though Google are reaping the benefits of their current strategy. Advertising is up and share price has never been so good, but I see long term problems and damage to the balance of SME & Brands trading online.
Great thread, hitchhiker!
I agree with Whitey that there are a lot of indicators that they are trying to be more transparent and open to feedback. It's my belief that attempting to parse the entire web in any meaningful way is beyond the computing capabilities of Google or anybody else these days. So if Google simply can't thoroughly "read" every page and all its ranking factors and make sure it's exactly where it should be, what are they to do?
I think they're resorting to very broad strokes, not because it represents the SERPs they really want, but out of desperation:
--Relying more than ever on "authority/trust" signals (which is probably where the brands are getting an advantage) to sort the wheat from the chaff.
--Penguin 1.0 seemed to just sweep a lot of sites out of Google's way for a year. It looks like with Penguin 2.0 they're trying to get a little more precise - like, maybe that year gave them time to find more efficient ways of doing some of their data processing?
What puzzles me is why some spammers are still ranking. It seems to me that if Google's worked SO HARD to end spam and we're still finding a lot of it at the top, then they might want to reconsider their entire strategy. But all I can think of for that is to dump links altogether and focus on user metrics, and I have a feeling they're not able to do that comprehensively enough yet.
Can't have a State of the Internet or even State of Google thread without mentioning mobile mobile mobile.
It's making HUGE differences in organics and starting to in paid. Ignore it at your peril.
|Diberry: ..resorting to very broad strokes, not because it represents the SERPs they really want.. |
Precisely the sort of questions we need to ask right now. It will shut down a lot of the 'Google is evil' stuff, it's clear their flustered at the moment. We can't expect that 'language' from them naturally.
|Whitey: ...I have never been confronted with so much transparency on changes and plans. |
Yep, and I don't see that slowing from here. They're doing a much better job in that respect. Many videos from Matt, much more info in general. I loved the long unorganised 'quickfire' video he did once; shame that didn't continue.
It would be great if we could compile the top 10 questions for the Webspam team (from juniors, seniors, newbies, experts alike) and have someone present that to them each week.
If that had been done, they would have noticed these patterns much earlier. We saw this direction quite a while ago. Dialogue and information exchange with your 'clients/partners/audience?' is seldom useless.
Could it be done, perhaps here? :) The process should expand beyond these walls, but it would be a welcome start. I don't think the intelligence level, or debate, is any higher than here at WebmasterWorld. Excellent mods, excellent community, no frills, 90s editor, but it gets the job done ;)
If anybody mentions 'google product forums' - expect 100 PMs and a 3 hour rant (from me, and other miffed webmasters)
[edited by: hitchhiker at 5:33 pm (utc) on Jun 12, 2013]
|It seems to me that if Google's worked SO HARD to end spam and we're still finding a lot of it at the top, then they might want to reconsider their entire strategy. |
The fixation they have on ridding the results of sites they define as being unworthy has become their own personal white whale - its consuming them and that obsession is forcing most web masters to alter their own personal visions for the web sites they build. Admit it, most sites are built and maintained with Google rankings as the driving force.
10 years ago their were a lot more sites that did rank higher than they deserved through pure reverse engineered seo - but overall the results produced much better and interesting fruit than they do now. There was far more diversity, and much more purely hobby, and informational gems to be found.
This isn't the state of the internet right now thankfully, but watching Captain Cutts steer the Pequod after web masters that have tasked him so egregiously is the current state of search unfortunately.
Agree with the 'white whale' analogy.
Internet 20-10 years ago? -> Being asked 'What is [the] internet?' Not registering 'beer.com' (available) because it didn't seem useful. Suddenly free information everywhere. The media frenzy riding in on it. Spam? It was a python sketch or luncheon meat. Different world.
Google inherited that, then they inherited the 'mass market' with it. 99% of sites need Google to exist, but that number is dropping (Social). They're being pummeled from all sides.
Scarey for them, they may well have overreacted, like many of us do each time 'the next cool plugin or script' surfaces - suddenly it's everywhere it probably shouldn't be. You lose focus, so do corporations. To get on track you need to communicate with the market.
It's a mistake to think of Google as a person, it's teams and teams of people. They seem genuinely interested in doing the best job they can. Now we need two way communication, so we can make informed decisions for our businesses and projects.
|Do we need, as a community, to establish better dialogue with Google? If so, a proper way to do that. To keep the signal to noise ratio down. |
I'm afraid I don't think we need better communication with Google, except temporarily. Temporarily, it would be nice. What I think we need is an alternative to Google, and soon - as in, the next 5 years. And it will happen.
That is because, through no fault of its own, Google's lost its vision, and isn't in a financial position to regain it. That means Google cannot carry us forward. Cannot. Not "is too greedy to" or "is too stupid to." Can. Not.
Admittedly, I have strange reasons for thinking this.
1) Google - and Amazon, and eBay, and Microsoft, and all the "Big Straddlers," as I call them - are straddling two shifting economic models that I like to think of as ships. There's the old ship, based on the railroad/car economic model we've been living with for about a century. It's kind of floundering in the ocean. Then there's the digital economic model, a brand new ship that's barely safe to board. Because this is a transition period, not a stability period, at the point of success, any of these corporations must, to survive, stop straddling both models and plant itself in the currently stronger economic model. Because of the 2nd law of thermodynamics (I joke about it, but entropy really does explain these patterns) the old model is fighting for everything it's worth to survive and is powered by a huge corpus of a generation that holds the resources, time, energy, and passion to give it one last go. So Google, Amazon, and the rest are re-committing to the old ship - though in a modified way. They must preserve their position close to the new ship, so that when it's ready, they can board safely. And they can even help. But they're doing that by being firmly planted on the old ship, which limits their vision and priorities to being closer to home.
2) So what this means is we're moving away from traditional centralized economic and financial centers, both corporate and government (structured this way largely because of 20th century land and air technology) and toward a huge redistribution of economics shaped by the lightning-fast, space-jumping digital technology. Everything is changing, from how we shop for our curry leaves to how we meet Mr. Right to how we make manufacturers rich.
3) We're moving toward globalism. This means an upheaval for every darn governmental and corporate infrastructure on earth.
4) We are already in a depression. People cannot continue to afford to invest in the old model. That is why people are crying out loudly against either government or corporations. Both are essentially the same thing - large, centralized, old-model structures that aren't capable of distributing resources like the new model.
5) Google cannot afford to invest fully in the new model. Being scalable (scaleable?) is absolutely critical for Google because their success is based on the existence of the new ship, which is too vast to manage with the current weak infrastructure (no global system of accountability of identity, for example). They'd rather have a broken, scalable system than a "fair" system that breaks them.
Those are my thoughts. I don't want to touch any political hot buttons, and I'm truly not making any political statement here, except saying "It's all screwy and will be for another 20 years."
As far as this thread was concerned you touched 'every political hot button' :)
Your long term vision is almost certainly correct. Decentralisation is a viable prediction. A peer-to-peer app layer will arrive in the next 3-5 years, followed by various apps for that. One of which will be 'search'.
Though, I think you underestimate what it took Google to get to where it is today. The world has changed; they are capable of reinventing themselves.
Stick to 2013 for this thread though - else it will muddy the original point :(
|10 years ago their were a lot more sites that did rank higher than they deserved through pure reverse engineered seo - but overall the results produced much better and interesting fruit than they do now. There was far more diversity, and much more purely hobby, and informational gems to be found. |
Totally agree with this. From my perspective, Google missed something big in their approach.
There were, and are, a lot of sites manipulating the results. However, many of those sites are great sites, with high quality content.
These great sites got swept out with the actual low-quality sites, and in many niches, there wasn't anything high-quality to backfill them with.
A better approach would have been a sort of hybrid Penguin-Panda, where the focus was more on sites that had BOTH low quality content AND low-quality backlinks. The serps would be much better at the moment if they'd been following that track, and didn't move outside that space until they were good at it.
|What I think we need is an alternative to Google, and soon - as in, the next 5 years. |
I agree, except I think Google is wanting to become that alternative.
I don't think of Google as primarily a search engine. Remember they've already said they're not committed to being a search engine, and that would be an absurd statement if they're all about search. I think fundamentally they are a company that does amazing things with math, and there's plenty of room for them in the new global economy.
But only if they make the right adaptations at the right times. That may be where they're trying to get feedback from us. I don't think they're just looking to improve search; I think they're trying to figure out where they should go as a company from here. They must be asking themselves some huge questions, like will search as we know it even exist in a few years? What new innovation is out there that will guide people to websites in a whole new way? Is "helping people find websites while serving ads" going to continue to be a good business model, or do they need something else entirely?
When Google began, it was webmasters who made them huge. They might be trying to rekindle that fire and get some buy-in on any potential new direction they take as a company. After all, the most brilliant idea can fail just because the public wasn't ready to hear it from you at the moment you chose.
|Your analogy is apt, it is precisely how many of us feel. In the end your ranking should reflect the quality of information you offer. |
First off hitchhiker, great post.
I'm sorry to pick on this point however, but it's actually not your fault. I pick on this quote because Google have become obsessed with content (as you mention, "quality of information"), simply because that's the only yardstick they have. ALL (ALL, yes ALL) of my 500+ clients sell DIRECTLY product(s) or service(s). The people using Google's search engine to find such products and services care very much about the quality of the products and services they're looking for. An informative, well-written brochure (website) is one thing, but many of these people/businesses selling these products and serivces aren't really big on that side of things, but they're....wait for it.....AUTHORITIES in the very thing they sell/provide. So there might be a gap here. A gap between what Google deems "quality" (the brochure), and the ACTUAL quality Google's CUSTOMERS (searchers) are looking for (the actual quality of the product or service).
Here's my point:
Google have proven beyond all doubt that a search engine is NOT the best tool to find the best product or service you're looking for, because search engines obsess far too much on the abstract layer that exists BEFORE your service or product - that is, the presentation of your service or product. In fact, that layer has become the "proxy" quality signal to the ACTUAL quality of your service or product.
The situation is less than ideal. A search engine should give the searcher the best service or product the searcher wants, not the best presentation of a product or a service. It's the actual product or service ITSELF that counts to the searcher. In other words, the search engine - by its very nature - cannot give the searcher what he/she wants! They can only use a proxy (presentation) to best guess what they want!.
Offline, people use word of mouth as the perfect conduit to describe quality of ACTUAL service or product. People telling other people - in detail - just how great such-and-such a service or product is, in genuine terms. They hear about it first hand. Not from a review site that may or may not be "faked" that Google's dumb blind algo may or may not trust, but simple word of mouth, in genuine terms, from a source far more trusted than how Google's blind and dumb algo deems "trusted".
My most basic point is this: the whole premise of judging the quality of a service or product on its presentation layer is fundamentally flawed, and does searchers a great disservice. There needs to be a complete overhaul on how businesses are assessed online to give searchers what they truly are looking for.
|The internet seems to be losing a significant amount of SMEs and hobbyists. Those that could otherwise contribute to the next-great-iteration of the internet experience. |
hitchhiker, 100% agree. This is the saddest thing. The spirit of the internet is the natural voice of the enthusiast and the hobbyist. I don't want to see an internet that consists only of savvy marketers who are only in a certain niche because it's been well researched and they believe it's got low competition and is profitable, yet aren't really into what they do. Do Google's actual customers (you know, searchers) want such drones to replace the true enthusiasts and hobbyists? Of course not.
[edited by: ColourOfSpring at 10:39 pm (utc) on Jun 12, 2013]
@ColourOfSpring - That's a fantastic point. Coming from the UGC side of things it never crossed my mind.
I guess when looking for the right 'widget' to buy (failing 'word of mouth') I personally end up trying to find expert forums and see what the threads say. If this was 5 years ago, i'd say: 'you should start an expert community on that!' - now, pfff - noooo :)
Could you even communicate that point to Google? ;) That's the question. If they want a great search engine, posts like that should be addressed by an engineer who might be able to formulate a real response, counter-argument or plan.
|I guess when looking for the right 'widget' to buy (failing 'word of mouth') I personally end up trying to find expert forums and see what the threads say. If this was 5 years ago, i'd say: 'you should start an expert community on that!' - now, pfff - noooo :) |
hitchhiker, that is a good point you raise - high quality UGC *IS* word of mouth when a forum/blog/social platform is trustworthy enough (and I'm sure yours are). A niche forum with genuine contributors is a good proxy for offline word of mouth. If Google are hitting these communities then that's a real shame - a shame for Google's actual customers (searchers) - because they need a proxy to the offline "word of mouth" way of understanding the quality of a business or service. Maybe Google think they're good enough and might even see such communities as competition to Google? If a forum gets big enough and has enough content that it becomes a "Google-in-a-niche", might Google be afraid that they lose out in that niche? Kill the forum and people default back to Google.
When we first got hit we were scrambling to find out what we'd done wrong. 8 months later we realised 'everybody' got hit. We found out from WebmasterWorld, a forum. Irony at its finest.
Btw: so far, all my pleading, begging, groveling and scraping for a 'Googler' reply has fallen on deaf ears :(
Next approach: Make a video *o dear god, what have I become* :D
@hitchhiker - Googlers are reading these forums, and decisions are influenced by objective analysis of posters remarks and sentiment, both here and elsewhere to gauge feedback and perceptions. So I'd encourage good, objective debate and a real sense of the pulse out here. Conferences, interviews and articles play their part, but these forums often contribute to the fire for progress within Google.
At the end of the day, Google needs good content / user experience, and it doesn't want to alienate it's source of it's product, or polarize to too few players or it will suffer in the long run to. Google certainly needs to understand what's happening on the frontline better, or communicate that understanding better if they have it, and, if they are to manage the current SERP's "transition" better.
The recent communication has been outstanding - it does demonstrate a will to be more involved. But the other half of the equation will be challenging for folks to sustain - how do folks reposition themselves when they've been wiped out, or under resourced in a fast moving environment.
The 12 year environment of the biggest link campaign or the greatest cookie cutter content / UGC site are long gone and over. There's a whole layer of new skills emphasis rapidly coming onto the scene.
Matt Cutt's comments on the stale nature of Craiglist, are not inseparable from Google's own dilemma towards the overall environment with webmasters in it's overall communications on change and quality management, and how it needs to better manage it.
Best not to waste what can be a good foundation for innovation, and alleviate webmasters from the time and worry that can block it, by providing more tools and update / fix transparency in a manageable form with good partners via WMT and continued dialogue IMO.
In some ways, I might allow that Google's ahead of society and chomping at the bit to get everyone else there. The Google+ product insofar as authorship tracking is concerned was a shot at introducing accountability - something that's sorely lacking in the wild west we-don'-use-names-here-pardner environment of the Web - and that will be resisted tenfold as a climax to current events.
I think Google likes UGC, because users like it and it fills content gaps, but it's terribly noisy and Google's not advanced enough itself, AI-wise, to evaluate the sincerity of the content (and no, Google hasn't quite got what authority means - I wouldn't give my neighbor (or the author of a piece of UGC) my credit card, but I'd ask him how to treat my aching tooth, which is more than I can say for a branded retailer). They don't want to erase the content, because it needs to flourish simply as a mode of Internet expansion. So to help Google along while they get smarter, they want more rigid control of the content along a fairly tunnel-vision path - grasping onto authorship. Their impatience is counterproductive, though; the users that generate that content are not yet in a position to compete with the big boys on Google's terms, and the actual UGC websites remain in a wary relationship with the very force that should be guiding them - Google. Since entrepreneurship is back after a long, dry century, those efforts that are doused by Google's flood on the outlaws' fire will go elsewhere, but it'll hurt in the meantime. It's all a bit depressing.
But anyway, back to the question of how to get Google to hear webmasters' points...I'm not optimistic, but here goes, more from a "mom" perspective than a techie one (as you'd be hard-pressed to find someone more non-techie than me):
1) Compete. Someone put together a better search engine. Heck, an index that can be searched in a totally customizable way. Please. Just for me- I mean, for the world's sake. Google'd listen then.
2) Stop talking to Google in the "You greedy corporation, you" and "You turned on us, man" and "You're a buncha bloomin' idiots" way. It's hard for someone - even a corporation - to admit they have a problem if everyone's shouting names in the schoolyard. Much easier to offer defensive platitudes, which is what we get when we do that. When talking to Google (whether the faceless entity or its representatives), acknowledge their challenges and help them figure out how to fix 'em. Develop a trust relationship.
3) Be blunt. Be concise. Be impersonal.
4) Fix their issue of scalabity. That's their biggest challenge. Their biggest reason for the "it's unfair!" problem we all have. If you can figure out how they can fix that problem, they'll listen!
|DS: Why not just update them and announce them? |
MC: We used to do that. By the end of the year, people were like Ö okay, 53 Panda updates, can we stop talking about it now?
We do more than 500 algorithm changes every year. Itís always difficult to assess what to share. With Penguin 2.0, we knew that a lot of people would be affected, so we wanted to get the word out [searchengineland.com...]
Need to help Google understand more about what's important to share. They won't / can't always, but here's a good example.
For months webmasters were debating what to do about the upcoming update. Damned if you, damned if you don't was the mood where a lot of webmasters choose to sit tight. A directive in advance with the right tools would have saved a lot on angst. Consensus amongst many was that using the disavow tool was a risk - and MC himself even urged extreme caution, followed by the recent "machete" communication and reconsideration request process feedback.
But the follow up on the penalty release process was the best and quickest I've heard. Of course we have yet to hear from those good news stories.
Whitey, Lapizuli - excellent, and yes 1000x!
Perhaps a top 10 questions for the Webspam team each week thread here on WebmasterWorld.
Maybe, as Shoeless Joe Jackson once said to Kevin Costner: 'If you build it they will come'
From my perspective, I see the following:
Bing - Traffic continues to rise and conversion percentages from this search engine lead all the others. Diversity remains a central component of their search product that gives users choice that include businesses of all sizes.
Google - Penalties have become so overpowering that content is no longer a central component of how they rank websites. This has also exacerbated the monetization of content scraping and the rewards given to those that do so.
Yahoo - Follows along the same lines with Bing, but conversion rates are lower. Recent acquisitions by Yahoo hold the potential to expand Yahoo's footprint online, but as of yet I have not seen a solid strategy from Yahoo that will accomplish this.
Social Networks - Facebook and other leaders in this arena continue to eat away at the market share of search engines. A social presence was once optional, but is now required of those that want to expand their sales, brands, etc.
Hyperlinks - A campaign to eradicate "bad links" threatens to expand beyond truly bad links and has introduced fear into many webmasters. Once the foundation of the internet, linking to each other now can be damaging to ones positions in the search engines and has deterred legitimate linking as a result.
Consolidation of Wealth - Branding as many call it, has been given preference over content in the leading search engine. This has shut out many small businesses from competing in an arena where content and content support should trump any other variables. Host crowding of branded/authority sites also adds to the problem of limiting user choice.
Those are a few of my thoughts on the "state of the internet." As we all know, the internet is comprised of many different components, and no single search engine or social network is the internet. However, major players do have a responsibility to those that they serve and to carefully maneuver as their actions can and do have a broad impact on the digital economy. Some have failed in this responsibility, in my opinion.
After all this time, I dunno why I should be surprised that people expect "the internet" to behave different than the offline world, but I still am.
i think a lot more businesses are going to focus on apps in the future, rather than websites, because its easier to make money with them.
as far as i can see, apps are really just bundled-up websites, but users generally have to pay upfront to access the information. and then you often get little micro-payments for extra stuff inside. so that's two ways of making money that isn't really open to plain-old websites.
(how many people are going to bother entering their credit card details for something that costs 49p?)
i came across an example today when looking for information about the iTunes Festival. it does have an official website, but its basically just one page with a link which downloads the app onto your phone. all the other information is contained in the app. they dont care about the website.
Google is a publicly traded company, as such they are obligated to show investors
profits every quarters. They will continue to sink small websites owners from page 1 or 2 to page 15 to get small website business owners to buy their products, like ad sense, as a remedy to get back in a descent ranking position. That's all their is to it! Pretty well orchestrated plan if you ask me. We want internet users to get "A good user experience" laughable ..
@turbocharged - I wish I could add a couple of things in that to my OP.
@Mac_Guy: I think you mean 'adwords', adsense is something else. We're here trying to get real answers to deeply complex problems. This doesn't help man.
@hitchhiker, Yes, adwords.... What I wrote is the root of the problem we as small biz owners are experiencing.
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