Website owners all around the world depend on Google Search for their livelihood and spend considerable amounts of money and effort to rank well on Google Search results pages (SERPs). Google boasts delivering the best results for those who search and spends a huge amount of money and effort to make its search results more and more relevant.
Part of this effort was the recent demotion and exclusion of directory sites and archive or index pages. For small businesses, this often cuts out the “middle man” and shows links directly to relevant websites, instead of forcing potential buyers to view a list of competitors first. In a sense, these directories were stealing website traffic for their own direct revenue (through paid listings) or indirect revenue (through advertising).
Another part was the addition of Knowledge Graph, which attempts to provide direct answers to search queries on the search results page. Unfortunately, this change, despite being great for information searches, can really hamper business’ promotion efforts on Google Search. Google keeps telling us to market our business by publishing fresh, informative content, and then grabs that content, shows it directly and forgets about giving us the traffic.
A few days ago, my youngest daughter started looking for a song to sing at a school concert. We all got together and searched for songs with music that would suit her voice and lyrics that would suit her age and style. I must say it was wonderful to find the results right there on the Google Search results page and even to scroll for more results without leaving the page. We found videos, lists of songs, information about singers and more, all of which helped us on our search for a good song.
However, much of the information shown to us was taken from YouTube, a Google site we all like to use for streaming our videos for free, from WikiPedia, a community-based information site built on volunteering and donations, and sites around the net that had made the information public, but probably didn’t mean for it to be republished by Google.
I’m not legal expert, but Google seems to be republishing content without permission. On the other hand, no website owner in their right mind would ever prefer to block their site from Google Search, which makes us all silent accomplices in the global abuse of our content marketing work.
SEO just seems to be getting harder and harder, and since Google makes a lot of money from advertising, that’s hardly surprising. The number of searches that bring traffic to websites will keep getting smaller, so advertising competition will go up and with it, click prices and Google’s revenues.
But is there an upside to these changes?
I think so.
Until recently, if you searched for “buy laptop” or “ipad for sale”, you got mostly “shopper bot” sites – aggregators of products from other sites that act as affiliates for commissions. Now, however, you mostly see the actual sellers’ sites. This generally means that when it comes to commercial searches, shopping sites are likely getting more buying traffic and keeping more of the profits from sales.
So is Google Search stealing our traffic or being true to their commitment for a better user experience? Will other search engines take a different approach and gain market share or follow suit? Will a different kind of search engine spring up as a result of website owner pressure? Only time will tell…
Have a great day,