diberry - 3:44 pm on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)
I think you make a really good case for this. One of the things I think people forget around here is to step back and think like a Google user who just wants to find something and thinks a "conversion" is when you turn a garage into a bedroom:
"I was talking to a group of people at a supper club last night and they asked what I do for a living, I tried explaining it to them, which led to my trying to explain Google update upsets. These non experts instantly knew about periods when Google delivers some real garbage results and they are unable to find what they were looking for or useful sites suddenly disappear. It's during these periods that we WM's experience Zombie traffic."
I can't tell you how many non-experts have mentioned this to me over the years. "I went back to find that site I wanted to show you, but it's gone!" Or, "It disappeared after lunch yesterday, but it came back this morning!" They find this bizarre and frustrating, and Google wants them to love Google's results, right? So there must be *something* that's worth irritating regular users for here.
I think forcing people to spend on Adwords is a very good explanation for why Google might want to do this. TimWilliams suggested in another thread:
"Google needs multiple advertisers for adwords to work in their benefit. If there was only 1 dominate advertiser in a niche that advertiser would not have to bid up their ad. Same goes for the serps, if a serp is dominating the sales then the advertisers go away. It's in google's best interest for everyone to make a little money and no one to dominate. Keep us all hungry but nourished... "
Traffic shaping could keep a whole niche competitive. If you were ranking #1-3 for a keyword already, you might not feel the need for Adwords on that phrase. But if NO ONE is consistently #1-3, then EVERYONE needs Adwords.
In other words, instead of wondering dubiously what value Google could possibly get from doing this to your site, they need to be asking what value Google could get from traffic shaping a whole niche.
And this would take very little effort on G's part for sites that have Analytics. If you can set a goal on your conversion pages, so can they - that simple. If you don't have Analytics, they can still control the amount and quality of traffic they send you per hour or per day easily if they so choose. They're already tracking all this stuff, as we know from WMT.
No one's suggesting they do it to every site - that WOULD take some computing effort. But for certain sites in certain lucrative Adwords niches? I find it very plausible.