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|Face it. Google is at a crossroads.|
I'll keep this a succinct as possible.
I'm going to say here that Google is at a crossroads. At some point this idea that we are striving for rankings and organic traffic is going to fall flat on its face.
The crossroads right now is this ever growing "answer box" search result and where this leaves me (and perhaps you) in the overall scheme of things. But bigger than that, you have one arm of Google trying to fetch the best results (websites) possible (Cutts) vs. some new arm that doesn't want the best results, it simply wants the best answer. So one aspect of Google (Cutts) is seeking out the best possible and most authoritive site only to have that content in the box and listed as a source link. Sure, feed me an entree after I just ate an entree. Is this madness? If you don't think that's a dilemma, then you have little insight into the future.
So how does Google suddenly go from finding the best results to seeking out the best answer and producing the most robust and expansive answer/information seeker? Well we all know that they wanted to assemble the worlds information. One problem. Where does that leave you in the overall scheme of things?
We can debate what is a "safe" zone. We can like Cutts said recently, hope that we become the chosen one for the box and that somehow becomes the new Adsense for webmasters. People are silly. If this is a desired placement being in the box, then do tell how that is a win, especially considering that the technology to grab that content in a concise way is growing more superior. I've seen it. Haven't you?
I'm a bit baffled. There is a malaise. I'm not sure, but to me this has everything to do with Cutts not being around. There was no mention of the knowledge graph expanding at the Google I/O and how they really more than ever wanted to provide you the visitor the answer. Oh yes, if it's a video, apparently for now you get sent to YouTube. Wonder why?
The point is, my webmastering is at a crossroads also. If things stayed the same, then no worries. However it appears to me that a new algo has been released which is grabbing more answers/steps than I've ever seen. Perhaps nobody around here actually searches anything. No idea.
I'm curious though. What is your strategy moving forward or are you arrogant enough to believe that what you provide is beyond what this evolving algo can manage. Quite frankly I can't see this lasting long term. At some point people might wake up. However, if this is the litmus test here, then perhaps we are a long ways off from really thinking this is a threat.
Lastly, I have in another thread asked about why you want to be the one in that box. You content in that box, with the answer, and your link at the bottom of that box. How is your link not redundant? Has anyone actually assembled data to see the click through rate? What is the upside? Perhaps I need chase the goal of being the chosen content in the box. No idea.
What I can say is that Google and the head of search is going to have to spend a lot of double double talking. How to make your site better does what? Making your content useful means what? If you give the best answer to a search, why would you benefit if you or somebody else is put into the box? I just don't get it. This forum is about SEO but how do you SEO your way on this one?
|operating with a belief that Google organic traffic will die will help you be more prepared for the future. |
Google organic traffic isn't dying.
SEO-driven sites, on the other hand, may be an endangered species.
I agree with all of your points, well said! I never met a service or product where I have to pay for everything before I get any results and then none of my results are guaranteed. Its like paying for a plumber that doesn't have to fix the plumbing but still gets paid. I can't make money without bringing some value to the customer. Maybe Adwords should be based on sales and not clicks?
In my experience so far with websites, I've paid enough to learn a lot, but have never received a return on investment. I keep trying to bring value to some audience, that I can help and would want my help. The problem is, I've met a few businesses that I could help, but I can't because they have been swindled online before, and they don't understand online at all, and none of my efforts can be guaranteed because of the ways search works.
Its almost like search engines should be neutral and just search engines, otherwise they have an unfair advantage to borrow every ones information and use it for their own competitive advantages. Sometimes, when I have an idea that could help, I can't share it because the search engines aren't going to help me show it to the world. I can't pay to advertise not enough money, I can use a search term that no one searches for to get on page one, but any search term that has meaningful traffic is too competitive to get on page one.
I was trying to start an association to build an authority website that unites online marketeers, affiliate marketers and SEO and SEM experts together to post their content on one website that leads to their own quality websites and also unites them geographically and by phone number to work together because its it the best interest of all to do so in light of present day search engines.
I thought a whole group of experts working together could actually help everybody online to build the next internet of things, but all of this is way over my head. I would really enjoy being a part of some endeavor like this.
|people tend not to worry about trends or their fellow webmasters |
people will eventually wake up to the idea
|some people will celebrate an increase in organic traffic |
|Thinking/telling people traffic will always keep being sent to one site or another |
|not so many people are sure how to positively improve ranks |
:: insert "You keep using that word" boilerplate ::
Sure .. Google is putting the squeeze to organic traffic, and it may indeed one day, go away altogether from Google.
Organic traffic is not too unlike a weed IMO ... pull a weed (like Google shutting off organic traffic) and another springs up a few feet away ... rinse and repeat.
We may actually see some sort of revival with regard to innovation if indeed Google does shut the organic traffic off entirely.
The WWW, at least in my world, is a living, breathing, and moving thing. You put your finger into one leak, another springs up over there somewhere. And no matter how hard you try to control it, whether it be through Adwords or Boxes, or any other sort of coded fence, the WWW will turn on you and go it's own direction.
Google will try to wall off, and manipulate as much of the net as it can before the net itself throws itself into another direction.
SEO in 5 years might be known by another completely different name, with it's own sets of new rules and procedures .. The WWW will move along, and so will the SEO types .. Google, not too unlike others before it, will have painted itself into it's own cyber corner selling off parts and pieces of itself just to stay relevant ...
Most everyone here will have the tenacity to evolve right along with the net .. I don't think we are the ones with the problem - We've evolved before, we'll evolve again. We're fairly scalable in that regard.
I wonder how much Google would be willing to evolve though, once the tide turns. -- because you see .. I'm not worried about us .. we're fine. It's Google that may in the end, have the problem.
@mcneely, well said! Triumphant! Inspiring!
|The WWW, at least in my world, is a living, breathing, and moving thing. You put your finger into one leak, another springs up over there somewhere. And no matter how hard you try to control it, whether it be through Adwords or Boxes, or any other sort of coded fence, the WWW will turn on you and go it's own direction. |
It would be good to remember that many of the people who have ebay stores, etsy stores, or sell on amazon were people who couldn't rank organically and wanted an outlet to sell their stuff.
So yes, as long as people have something to offer, there will be various outlets for them.
|many of the people who have ebay stores, etsy stores, or sell on amazon were people who couldn't rank organically |
Or could care less if they ranked at all ...
We're always going to have these types of internet users .. most who have a regular job but would still like to have a bit of skin in the game -- why one would care to have skin as thin as an Etsy Store is beyond me, but I digress.
Google isn't at a crossroads ... Google's core is suffering and has been for a while now. It behooves them to try to stem the tide of less revenue these days, so they are actively coming up with ways to make more money.
The thought that organics might be going away can be a realistic premise in light of the things Google is doing to jack up their revenue .. It may never go away, but who knows? The fact that organic traffic going away is even on the table is quite telling.
In my earlier post in this thread, I wasn't eluding to Amazon, Etsy, or Ebay when I made reference to innovation .. I was looking beyond the Joe Citizen who already has a regular job aspect of it all.
Google can only sell ads for so long .. The fact that 96% of their revenue comes from ads alone has been lost on some of those who still think Google is a search engine. We've got plenty of ad servers, and not enough search engines. Organic traffic can really ever come from a search engine, and Google knows this.
I saw the direction search was headed years ago and decided that depending on SEO and free traffic from fickle rankings was no way to run a business. So I've spent the last 7 years building repeat traffic. I never look at rankings anymore and sleep better for it.
|Sure .. Google is putting the squeeze to organic traffic, and it may indeed one day, go away altogether from Google. |
My feeling is that if Google drops organics then the public will drop Google. Ads bring in the income but the organics draw in the searchers who click on the ads. The relationship between ads and organics is synergistic so they'd be crazy to reduce the latter too much and they are certainly not that.
|I wonder how much Google would be willing to evolve though, once the tide turns |
They are trying hard but they are finding it difficult to make their new ventures profitable. Without search they are, at present, doomed.
@mcneely You've really got a way with upsetting the Google fanboys and fangirls. :) But you are right.
Google's real problems started when it killed Search Serendipity. This was where people used search engines to find new and interesting sites. It allowed the rise of Wikipedia. A lot of those searching for information were in school and doing homework assignments. So Google effectively lost a new generation. Social Media mushroomed at the same time that Google took its eye off the ball. Facebook/Myspace/Bebo all gained traction. Google blew that one. It came along with its halfhearted effort Google Plus.
Google then tried to appropriate the concept of the "Knowledge Graph" because Facebook was launching on the stockmarket and everyone had heard of the Social Network and the term 'Social Graph' was becoming familiar. But then Cuil had tried something similar to Google's "Knowledge Graph" years ago.
The problem for Google is that its search management people are trying to solve the problems of ten years ago and are using a poor implementation of AI to do it when the reality is that the links model is still good and only needs to be updated. However the Google fanboys and fangirls have drunk deeply from the Google koolaid and cannot see what is going wrong.
|However the Google fanboys and fangirls have drunk deeply from the Google koolaid and cannot see what is going wrong. |
When you have to resort to name-calling, you've lost the argument.
Google isn't "at a crossroads," and organic search traffic is very much alive. However, that doesn't mean change won't or shouldn't happen. Remember when Google got fed up with the thin affiliate sites that cluttered its search results 10 or 12 years ago? Or when it gave the shaft to "click arbitrage" AdSense sites that added no value for searchers? Or when it told the likes of Demand Media to take a hike with Panda 1.0? Maybe Google is starting to take that same hardnosed attitude toward e-commerce sites that emphasize SEO over useful content.
Organic Web search wasn't invented to help businesses sell things. It was invented to help Web users find things. If you want to sell things with free traffic from the search engines, then you need to publish the kind of content that search engines want to index and rank. Stop obsessing about what you want from Google and think about what Web users want from Google.
|Organic Web search wasn't invented to help businesses sell things. It was invented to help Web users find things. |
Unless you are looking for the biggest megasites that sell something vaguely similar to what you are searching for, and not actual information, then Google, despite it's very promising beginnings, now fails dismally in that aim. Meanwhile regulatory authorities in the world outside the USA (where 'lobbying' is all-powerful) are getting more and more impatient with the company's monopoly position. Hence Google's frantic attempts to find another cash cow - so far, unsuccessful.
So maybe Google is at a crossroads, after all.
No. It is actually quite an accurate description of the way that some people still believe every bit of PR fluff that emanates from Google.
|When you have to resort to name-calling, you've lost the argument. |
Google is at a crossroads and it is not one that is immediately obvious. It is the crossroads between the Dead Web (Published content) and the Live Web (Social Media driven). It has repeatedly failed with its own Social Media efforts and now SM is creating what are, in effect, walled gardens.
|Google isn't "at a crossroads," and organic search traffic is very much alive. |
Easily dealt with. But Google had competition then and it gave Google an advantage.
|Remember when Google got fed up with the thin affiliate sites that cluttered its search results 10 or 12 years ago? |
And I even remember discussions with the people who were doing that and explaining what would happen. This was during the whole Domain Tasting mess of 2005-2009. But that too was easily dealt with and it was ICANN's decision to impose a restocking fee on domains registered and deleted in the five day Add Grace Period that solved that problem rather than Google.
|Or when it gave the shaft to "click arbitrage" AdSense sites that added no value for searchers? |
Crudely and inelegantly handled.
|Or when it told the likes of Demand Media to take a hike with Panda 1.0? |
No. Google seems to have realised that poor SERPs make people search again. As such they can be served more advertising. That's why Google's advertising in SERPs has become more like the SERPs themselves. Some of the large e-commerce sites such as eBay and Amazon already have a walled garden operation with a critical mass of users that no longer need Google. This balkanisation is bad for Google because it is losing eyeballs and opportunities to put its advertising in front of them.
|Maybe Google is starting to take that same hardnosed attitude toward e-commerce sites that emphasize SEO over useful content. |
|Stop obsessing about what you want from Google and think about what Web users want from Google. |
How about focusing on what Web users want from YOU.
|Google isn't "at a crossroads" |
Google has been directing traffic at THE crossroads since the day it was born practically. If you'd like me to be more literal, it's always in the middle of some decision-making process or another. They have decisions to make every day that involve staying competitive, expanding into new markets/territories, what services to develop, etc. so get over it. They're always considering something. To think your precious flow of organic referrals can't get caught up in their constant decision-making process is either naive or arrogant. To make statement like, "this is only going to impact the bad guys" (I'm paraphrasing a lot of different statements obviously) is just plain condescending.
|Organic Web search wasn't invented to help businesses sell things |
I'll agree with the premise and restate my position that I believe commerce and information should be separated in the SERPs. If you want to sell something, buy some advertising! I guess another option is to go get yourself some free advertising on television, radio or in a magazine. Oh wait, that doesn't really exist now does it?
|If you want to sell something, buy some advertising! |
Like a lot of us I've done very nicely out of free advertising for many, many years and most of it has come from Google. If it continues, great. If not, back to Plan A.
Some of us don't know how lucky we are.
|I believe commerce and information should be separated in the SERPs. |
Agreed, some prominent search filters would be useful but would Joe Public know how to use them? Google's attempts to read the searchers' minds and predict just what they are really looking for just doesn't seem to be working too well yet. I doubt if their algo could tell the difference between a commercial or informational site anyhow, most I look at are a mixture of the two.
I think it's evident at this point, that organic search served (no pun intended) the purpose of getting people to ads. I can draw that conclusion with far more conviction today that before. It's why organics have been turned on their head. It's why radical changes to the algo have been allowed to start. It's why the space on page one (our organic rankings) means a LOT less. The ads served on websites via Adsense also leads me to the same conclusion. Those ads also are seeing radical alterations and testing. Why? Because they can. Those ads on sites don't need to be seen to the same extent. Therefore, consult point A which is organic search mattered for getting people to Adsense. There are obviously other ways to get those ads to people and the site hosted ads have dropped and continue to drop in terms of importance. Clearly if the ads on our sites mattered as much, then you wouldn't see so much of page 1 search results taking away actual links to site. An answer box to me looks to kill about 3-5 organic listings from either you or me. You can't convince me that it's not all related.
Crossroads? I mean from the perspective of what people like Cutts will be suggesting for us to do in order to get those organic links. His suggestions will not jive with the growing ability and likelihood that the answer box will appear and thus make your hard work all the more irrelevant in the end. I don't see how both philosophies co-exist. So they will have to call themselves an answer machine, or they will have to revert to finding the best sites out there and give links to those sites rather than showing the "gold" from those sites on Google's own pages. Right now they aren't saying anything about this new direction. A crossroads is for the algo team that tries to get the best results, meanwhile the other part of Google is showing their hard work farther and farther down the page and into a redundancy. How's that for counter productive and nullifying your relevance as an algo expert. Poor Matt Cutts.
|Like a lot of us I've done very nicely out of free advertising for many, many years and most of it has come from Google. If it continues, great. If not, back to Plan A. |
Some of us don't know how lucky we are.
Yes, lucky or perhaps fortunate to have had the opportunities presented and to have been able to capitalize on them.
Meanwhile, all that competition for free ad space has turned the informational aspects of the SERPs into a three-ring-circus. I see free advertising via the SERPs as a long-standing, loss-leader program that can be modified or discontinued at any time. Particularly now that so many have demonstrated that they don't know how to live without it.
|I see free advertising via the SERPs as a long-standing, loss-leader program that can be modified or discontinued at any time. |
Sure. I remember when, before Google's ascendancy, some search engines charged for every click (was it 15c a click from looksmart? It seemed like a fortune then) and Y! wanted a substantial sum just to consider whether or not to list a site in it's database. Google for all it's faults is a vast improvement on that at present but there's nothing to stop them using similar tactics if they decide to go down that route.
Will their attempts to keep more and more business for themselves put those of us who live off free advertising out of business? Those who cannot adapt may well suffer, those that can will have fewer competitors and there is a limit to how much Google can demote organics before users go elsewhere.
When you guys go back to the "google fan boy / girl" name-calling, then I'm out. Anybody with half a brain who actually pays attention knows that there's no google fan boys OR google fan girls here. And it's a pity that the mods (once again) let it seep through. I don't really see how this pointless discussion has anything to do with Google SEO or this forum anymore.
|I don't really see how this pointless discussion has anything to do with Google SEO or this forum anymore. |
So, you'd label a discussion pointless because of a few negative comments. Here's what may be fast becoming pointless, discussing Google SEO. If you have something point-full to say, I'm sure we'd all love to hear it.
I hardly think discussing the possibility that Google's at a crossroads which could impact us all, pointless. For some it's seems prudent to think about and plan for such possibilities as we see them on our horizon (accurate or not). If someone believes that organic search is changing so drastically that someday it will be irrelevant, what's the problem? Disagree. No problem.
And I agree, name-calling is not helpful. Most either have a stance on this topic one way or another but no one's stance in the discussion is necessarily rooted in the reality of the future. Predictions aside. I think it's prudent to speculate about the future, plan for it as best I can and I know you agree with that on some level. This is what happens when trying to understand what's happening right in front of your eyes is incomprehensible. Not everyone has the magic formula figured out and if anyone does, they're not sharing it.
Added: And before someone jump on that last statement with a comment about the Google rating guidelines thread. Yes it's sharing but it's not the source of a magic bullet either.
[edited by: webcentric at 5:52 pm (utc) on Jul 14, 2014]
|So, you'd label a discussion pointless because of a few negative comments. Here's what may be fast becoming pointless, discussing Google SEO. If you have something point-full to say, I'm sure we'd all love to hear it. |
Pointless because it's become yet another Everything Google Does is Evil discussion with the same ole Google Fanboy and Google Fangirl accusations.
And misplaced, because it's now a policy conversation and not a strategy conversation. We have a different forum for those.
SEO? This board is becoming what the environment is making it become. There is very little posting going on related to actionable information here because there is a disconnect between what Google is saying and the results that come from trying to follow those statements (in the minds of many). It's a state of confusion and some here want to discuss something that pretty much no one can even describe any more. And, whatever it is, it's a moving target. A certain amount of speculation is required when all the attempts at reverse engineering come to naught. Where's the strategy to discuss? How can it be measured? Will that strategy even be relevant by the time you get done measuring it? The pace of change in the SERPs is leading to speculation about where it's all going. Reacting to the state of NOW, is about as productive as a dog chasing it's tail.
The original question in this thread was a good one, a forward looking one. Problem is, will trying to figure out how to get your stuff in a Knowledge Graph turn out to be a waste of time because G suddenly decides to abandon them and go in some other direction (I know, not likely but I'm making a point about change). Change is making this a very difficult subject to observe. Question is, are folks reacting to every little change or looking ahead to where it's going. I say, they're looking ahead and trying to find a way to get there before Google does. Kind of hard to do that without thinking about Google's goals and objectives.
Thanks everyone for your comments. Since this thread has veered away from SEO and more towards general business we have moved the conversation to the Google Finance & Business section
Click here to follow the conversation at its new location [webmasterworld.com]
[edited by: goodroi at 8:16 pm (utc) on Jul 14, 2014]
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