"Don't rely on free traffic" is easy to say - but that's only possible for some business models. E-commerce can certainly work with paid traffic - but information publishing funded by advertising can't (in most niches):
As a publisher you simply can't afford to pay to create great content, then pay for visitors to come and consume it for free, in the hope that 2% of them will click an ad - unless you've got amazing visitor retention, the figures just won't work.
So if Google succeeds in bringing about the "death of free traffic" - it will also mean the death of ad-supported information publishing.
The FTC decision is very disappointing - and we'll no doubt see Google tighten the screw further on sites that compete with them. They're in a very strong position - but there are a couple of chinks in their armour - not least the fact that a lot of webmasters and tech-influencers absolutely loathe them.
I've seen some interesting figures recently though: The % of traffic that many websites here in the UK are getting from Google has dropped significantly over the past year. Not just small ones either - big names too. Google's market share hasn't really changed - so it's a bit of a mystery - perhaps everyone is busy diversifying their traffic away from Google?
Excellent thread - particularly taberstruths posts. Great job on diversifying away from Google so effectively - and those are some fantastic stats on bounce rates etc. As a Panda victim, disallowing Googlebot is my ultimate goal too - it's some distance away for me, but it'll be a great day when it comes!