diberry - 4:55 pm on Aug 8, 2013 (gmt 0)
That is perhaps a statement of my worst fears, but not close to what I meant to suggest.
I wasn't restating your thoughts, but rather springboarding from what you said to... well, what I described IS somewhat of a worst case scenario, but I believe in "hope for the best, but plan for the worst" in business. That said, it's promising that you saw a result you would have feared might not be mainstream enough.
Also, just for the sake of clarity, I don't think Google's on some mission to wipe out non-mainstream "voices of dissent" - there's no profit in that, and it certainly doesn't fit with their corporate culture. I just think that when you have people in Congress questioning why you "let" naughty sites into the top results, and clearly not understanding that an algorithm can't detect piracy et al, and these people are powerful enough to maybe convince an equally ignorant Federal judge that your magic SERP fairies are not doing enough... it's worrying. I can't blame Google if they're leaning toward "safe choices".
That said, Lapizuli's points about the current economic trends not being sustainable rings true. I firmly believe they are not, and I believe they will turn around... but when? That's what I can't plan on.
One interesting point: this "in-depth article" move clearly suggests schema markup is here to stay, and I can see it eventually leading to a system of tagging not just for engines but for visitors. I.E., I'd like to see an agreed-upon standard that makes affiliate links have a distinct look, not just for engines but for readers who might not realize they are sort of transactional in nature. Maybe someday we'll have tags that differentiate "opinion pieces" from "scholarly research" in a way that's visible to audiences. I think an agreed-upon set of rules like this could help visitors and also help engines serve visitors what they want. Like, maybe after seeing articles routinely categorized as "opinion", "discussion" or "research", people would react favorably if Google put buttons like that by the search bar so you could choose which set you wanted results from.