turbocharged - 2:15 am on Jun 1, 2013 (gmt 0)
What we need to do is find ways of working with each other so that in the event we lose Google traffic, it's not the end of anybody's sites.
It's not a matter of if we will lose free Google traffic but when and what kind of impact this will have on small businesses. Working together is an excellent idea, but for what purpose and to accomplish what set of goals?
Personally, I think what is needed most in the webmaster community is a collective voice. Essentially, such a voice would have to be a trade association/lobby to counterbalance what Google, Amazon, Facebook, Yahoo, eBay, etc. are trying to do with their lobbying organization. Instead of an association of whiners, it would have to be data based to substantiate the harmful effects these extremely large corporations are having on small businesses and their opportunity to compete in a fair market.
Data regarding Penguin 2.0, such as is found in the Moz Blog, offers some insight to what initially occurred. It's just a matter of connecting the dots and continually presenting this kind of information to regulators and policymakers to resist some of the harmful change that is being forced on us. For example, some of the "big 20" sub-domain rank changes for Google's Internet Association members are:
One could argue that although Amazon slipped slightly, they are benefiting from host crowding that may more than compensate for the limited loss in ranks. All other Internet Association members posted strong immediate gains after Penguin 2.0 was initially released. More data needs to come to light and for the rest of the Internet Association's members to get a complete picture.
It's very difficult for anyone to tell another company what they can and can't do with their business. However, eCommerce is a one trillion dollar a year industry. It needs to be adequately regulated and protected so that all businesses have an opportunity to compete and consumers retain choice. Collectively, the Internet Association controls most of the internet traffic and points of origin for eCommerce transactions. This should sound off the alarm bells for regulators, but nobody that I know of is trying to press places like the FTC to look into the activities of this organization and whether just their working together should raise anti-trust concerns.
Many small businesses I have worked with have been hurt badly. Because of Panda they wanted to fix their websites and de-optimize them. Then there is Penguin, which many small business owners have spent money on removing links or spent many hours monitoring their backlinks in Webmaster Tools. This equates to a significant loss in productivity and the burden is targeted towards small businesses, while big businesses tend to get granular types of penalties (a penalized page and not the whole site). This places small businesses at an even further competitive disadvantage because Google has told them that they must allocate money and/or time to what many of us now know to be extremely unproductive tasks (solutions which do not work for most) if they ever hope to be seen in Google Search again. And where would these businesses rank at anyway? Below a couple YouTube videos, multiple Amazon listings, a Wikipedia listing and of course all those paid ads and images?
These are very difficult times for small businesses trying to maintain a visible presence online. From the trends I have seen, these problems are likely to get far worse in the near future. For me personally, it may have broad ramifications. What small business is going to want to develop or expand a website if they must first pay Google or another Internet Association member to be seen? Especially with the continued assault on hyperlinks, this could become a real possibility if small businesses do not allocate a large enough budget to compete with the big corporations.