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What would you do if Google serps just disappeared

     
4:16 pm on Jul 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Some of us are old enough to remember the internet before Google even existed. Back in the very old days, we were more open to exchanging links because that was one of the very few ways to build traffic. Imagine if the Google serps just disappeared overnight. How would your business respond?

Why am I asking this? It is a good learning exercise to brainstorm the different traffic sources that are now available. Sometimes we are too focused on Google drama that we overlook profitable alternatives. It is also smart to become less dependent on Google, not to mention making yourself more popular online can make Google jealous and result in better Google traffic.

So if the Google serps, magically disappeared how would your business respond?
5:24 pm on July 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I would start a search portal :)
6:20 pm on July 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Remember webrings? They would once again be a thing, since the premise is “If you like this site, you might be interested in this other site which has suchandsuch feature in common with it”.

I’d look for bona fide, curated directories: the ones that humans actually use when searching for specific types of material. If you use a given directory yourself and know it's useful, get your site listed on it. (I can remember that lightbulb moment of “Oh, this directory isn’t magically created by the Directory Fairies. There’s a human being, who will list my content if I draw his attention to it and he individually decides it’s worth listing.”)

In fact, I’d do all the things that are currently frowned upon. Guest posts or articles on other people's sites, with a link to mine. One-on-one link exchanges with sites that have overlapping target audience. If a forum or discussion thread includes an option for linking to a webpage (most do), use it. In each case, the motive is not to game the search engine by making it look as if lots of people link to me--but to make myself visible to more humans.

How about asking from the other side? Suppose you're looking for material on the internet, and you know it’s out there but there's no such thing as a search engine. How would you find stuff?
6:26 pm on July 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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As per Lucy24's suggestion, plus I would redesign my web sites to be as I want them to be and not as Google's whim-of-the-month dictates.
6:51 pm on July 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Webrings, huh? Funny, that's what came to mind while reading the opening post. In the olden days, link circles or webrings were common and really helpful to find similar/related sites. There was no "no-follow" or analyzing the merits or purpose of a link, it was an agreement between sites in similar niches to benefit each other. Not everyone was accepted, the determining factor seemed to be one of relationship or niche similarity. It was a way for people to find other sites that interested them more than about gaining advantage. Today's PBNs are a different type of the same thing but with a whole different basis. The web-rings were before SEO, rank, AdSense and so many other things that matter to people today.

It was not a world of perfection, there was malware galore, more sneaky stuff like hidden keyword stuffing, far more spam. Some of those things have been lessened since Google showed up. Maybe it was just me, but it seemed much more trusting and innocent back when. Today we're fully armed.
8:39 pm on July 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I guess the one thing that truly postdates Google is social media. So we can't just think about “What did we do in the old days before Google ruled the world” but also “How can we make Facebook work for us”.
1:13 am on July 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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• Less than 25% of my traffic comes from Google's, Bing's & other SE organic search.
• Approx 30% of my traffic comes from Social Media
• Approx 45% come from backlinks, schools and research (albeit some of those do use SEs.)

Considering so many other sites rely so strongly on SE traffic, they would suffer much more than my sites -so- comparatively, I would benefit.
1:43 am on July 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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In fact, I’d do all the things that are currently frowned upon.

Perfect statement Lucy.

On top of that, advertising, like the good old days.
1:45 am on July 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Also, websites with an audience would rule the world and popular Instagram models would become completely unbearable.
3:35 am on July 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Would other search engines exist? If so, I'd be very happy as they show less bias than Google.

As Lucy said, accept guest posts. I was offered one today, but as always, refused their offer as I don't want to suffer the wrath of Google.
11:03 pm on July 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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It's sad Google has become something so far removed from what it started out to be. I would just have a quite glass of whisky and wonder what Google could have been if it kept to its original mission statement.
12:25 am on July 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I'm watching The Handmaids Tail now, reminds me of that. Step out of line and you'll be sent to the colonies.
11:55 am on July 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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So if the Google serps, magically disappeared how would your business respond?


With every new project I push that concept, and there's a great deal out there to do.

One of the first things to happen would be that the other search services would get far more attention.

Social media will become much more valuable.

Webrings - don't they still exist! ;)

Forum comment spam will remain an activity for at least another ten years until "they" realise it's getting them nowhere. But then, that's still the case today, too. lol
1:55 pm on July 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Well said Lucy24.

Directories have been collateral damage in Google's war on web spam.
Their demise is a great shame and one that has not garnered enough attention.

It is also my belief that the demise of human-classified directories has had an extremely negative effect on Google's search results, which now rely on returning huge mega-authority sites in the results rather than specialised websites, that were previously endorsed by DMOZ, Yahoo Directory and others.
2:08 pm on July 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I miss the old days... when the internet was fun :)

banner exchanges..

are they still around?

they were like webrings, you hosted a banner on your site and your banner would be shown on someone else's site.
for every impression you served your banner would be shown 0.9 times or something.

I remember Google started off with a search widget that webmasters could add to their site, every time someone searched Google from their site Google paid them $0.05
then Google stopped the campaign but webmasters kept the search box widget on the site anyway because it was cool.

there was a lot of changing peoples home pages going on and a lot of toolbars getting installed.
3:03 pm on July 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Directories have been collateral damage in Google's war on web spam.

I'm not sure about collateral damage, so much as a victim of aggressive competitive practice.

When everyone got FUDed* into avoiding directories, there was only one place left to get your information.

On topic: what's wrong with paid links again?

Off Topic: I wonder if those with the "old site mystery penalty" acquired links in ways that pre-dates widespread compliance with Google Guidelines- either paid links, or anything Lucy suggested.

*FUDded? EnFUDded? Past participle of verbified FUD.
3:05 pm on July 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Buy Text Link Ads everywhere :)
3:07 pm on July 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Google? What Google?

I am sure traffic will just spread into other existing search engines.

One of them, the better and more open one , would promote it's free website search boxes. Webmasters will use them and put on their websites for millions of visitors to see and try.

Within a year, nobody will remember Google.

You can't just alienate every single webmaster out there, get paid millions of stock options to themselves via our content , pay their partners-webmasters zilch for our content, and not see the payback that's coming.
3:48 pm on July 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I don't know that I'd do anything, because another search engine would jump into the breach. We do well in Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Yandex, and we did well in search engines like Infoseek back in the olden days. The players may change, but the game goes on.
4:46 pm on July 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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In the short term I would be down to a third of my normal traffic. Like others here I would use all the old school tricks to get links for real people to follow, which is what links should be for anyway.
7:10 pm on July 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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“How can we make Facebook work for us”
-- Give them 5 bucks and get 100 non-engaged likes in return -- Facebook banks on spamming folks every time someone gives them money.

On the other hand, I see the web rings, banner exchanges, reciprocal linking, directories, and the ever so infamous FFA pages making a marked return --
I've been saying for years now that Google is one big over rated ad server - Ever since they bought DoubleClick I knew it's days would be numbered as a viable search - I remember writing out and blocking DoubleClick back in the day because I counted it as a worthless piece of spyware -- Google bought it and suddenly legitimized it's nefarious ways.

If Google returned to it's pre-2005 ways, I would probably count it as something useful - Not likely that will ever happen now
9:18 pm on July 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I didn't mind directories either and in the early days I had a links pages for other sites in my niche which may be of benefit to the user. I had a friend who was really good at finding really cool/informational sites, she'd find them and email me, I'd put them on the site. I remember the days of following links and wasting hours on new and exciting sites. Now that's all gone. Not everybody wanted to rort linking, but Google seem to have turned it into a dirty thing. I was on a site in my niche a few days ago, an old site, which hasn't been updated and they had the traditional links page (with a link to my site).

I don't know if I'd do much differently to what I am doing now. Like others, I've started to try and reduce my reliability on Google and have a much stronger social media presence now.

While I do complain a lot about Google, for the most part, I think the Internet is a better place now than it was pre Panda where content farms were everywhere. But, having said that, I'm seeing a lot of really thin content rising up the ranks once again, I hope that it is just a temporary glitch and they will turn down the dial soon.
9:57 pm on July 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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IMO - Directories were the breeding ground for payola schemes and unnaturally occuring link tactics. This, and other misuse of natural linking, became a significant reason for later penalties.
11:39 pm on July 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Whoa, a real "Back to the Future" scenario? Back to the days when it was fun, writing about what you loved best?

Traffic in your genre was actually the only a real measure of the respect and esteem in which you were held by your own peer group world wide? Because your site presented the Why, How to, Do it this way?... Links back reflected this.

Better days. My only need for revenue was to cover rapidly escalating bandwidth costs which were very expensive back in those days compared to today.

Your web page was a simple HTML design with black font type on a white web page, perhaps augmented with .gif, or .jpg files where appropriate and necessary.

Simple but good.

Back in the real olden days Mr. Yahoo made my site, "the site of the week"?

Directories? Yeah well we all know of the problems many of them gave us with dubious entries, and even more dubious self interested editors. We lived with it.

If Google SERPs disappeared? Something else would come along to take its place - nature abhors a vacuum.
12:17 am on July 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Besides dance and shout and run about?

Not much different. Weaned off g about eight years back and went looking for better QUALITY traffic. Found it, too. :)
2:34 am on July 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Directories were the breeding ground for payola schemes and unnaturally occuring link tactics. This, and other misuse of natural linking, became a significant reason for later penalties.

Yes, but that's directories as interpreted by search engine algorithms. It's a whole nother issue if you're talking about directories as a mechanism for humans to find you.
2:38 am on July 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Not what I meant. The virtuosity of organic linking should not need Big Brother (Google) to enforce it. Directories bred greed and selfish competitive behavior. Just look how corrupted they became.

This is why Google ended up demoting (penalizing?) link exchanges.
4:58 am on July 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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But look at Google and their own behaviour which can be suggested has come down to greed.
5:30 am on July 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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...from about the time they announced their IPO.

"Greed is good." - Gordon Gekko
5:50 am on July 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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As one of the seven deadly sins greed (#2), as well as the other six, applies to "don't do evil" g. :)

Greed and making a living are two different things, but THEN AGAIN WE DIGRESS ON TOPIC (as usual).

At some point folks (webmasters who think this is a way to make a living) have to grow up and make their own way in the world instead of living in mommy and daddy's (g's) basement and sucking at the gimme (g's) teat.

FORTUNATELY, one does not have to wait for g serps to disappear! There are so many other avenues out there (for the clever minded and willing to work long hours and diligently) to achieve success ... but even then, kiddies, there's no guarantee you will get RICH ... but you can make a living.
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