mcskoufis - 4:55 pm on Sep 16, 2013 (gmt 0) [edited by: mcskoufis at 4:57 pm (utc) on Sep 16, 2013]
Google is still a very good traffic source that drives targeted traffic. Even though some very popular terms yield loads of Universal clutter, there are many long-tails which don't provide so much clutter, yield fantastic results and drive traffic.
I think our profession has evolved with the technological advances at Google. Getting placement in Universal results along with the organic ones brings in good converting traffic and drives awareness. Is just not just the website anymore, its a whole new social world out there and I do understand the need for such results apart from the financial goals they have.
Google is placing its other products as well there, which are important to its business and needs to make them popular. I bet even Facebook gets at least 10-15% organic traffic from pages (and posts) featured in the SERPs and that a big share of YouTube traffic comes from organic searches. Twitter as well.
One of the key slides I have in my SEO presentations is that Google can drive organic traffic to your social channels via its Universal and organic results. So having an optimised presence on all those is a must. You're missing out a lot if you don't. It's a win-win situation.
So answering Goodroi's original question:
Do you think webmasters can survive Google's shrinking serps?
Yes they can, with more effort (content) than was previously required. But if you don't adapt to the developments you are doomed to fail or at least take a hit on your earnings.
[edited by: mcskoufis at 4:57 pm (utc) on Sep 16, 2013]