The Internet was once a place of organic reach. But Google is growing increasingly dissatisfied with traffic leaving its ecosystem. The first page for the search term ‘podcasting’ reveals a concerning new reality for content creators, Startups, and marketers.
Quick question before you skim further. How many organic links can you count in the screenshot below?
One. The answer to our quick question is one. Congratulations, you’re not the winner. Nobody is a winner. Except maybe Google, but the platform has been winning already. No news here. (The screenshot is from my iPad and represents roughly 50% of Google’s first page.)
What can we see when we search for the term podcasting?
- Paid advertisement
- Google’s Long dictionary
- Side snipped from Wikipedia (not Google’s content)
- People Also Ask section (definitely not Google’s content)
Good luck getting any Google traffic for your next podcast. Google does everything in its power for users to never leave Hotel Google. Imagine Tech Willie Wonka that doesn’t have chocolate for you, but still keeps you locked in its factory; that’s Google right now.
Let’s drop the satire, and explain what’s going on and why is Google not keen on letting traffic leave the platform. You can see for yourself why it doesn’t pay to count on grandpa Google to pay your student loans anymore.
“41% of the first page of Google search results is taken up by Google products. “ — The Markup analysis
The world of content marketing is changing. The revolution is here. We already have everything in place for the transition. Paid newsletter, content on-demand, and exclusive content ecosystems are already becoming the next avenue for content creators, especially writers.
You can’t count on positioning your stuff on Google any longer. Google is still the biggest search engine platform on the planet. Ranking on the first page still brings tons of traffic. But the organic reach is contracting and it might suffocate your whole business. SEO is not a business strategy anymore.
What’s up with Google?
Short answer: money and power. Many things in life are complicated, but when it comes to Google changing the search engine landscape, it’s clearly not because of you. Google makes five times more revenue on indigenous ads than it does on renting ad space for advertisers.
“We want to get you out of Google and to the right place as fast as possible,” Larry Page said in 2004.
But things have changed, Google is not just a search engine anymore. Similar to how Facebook is not just social media. Both platforms are internet ecosystems that hate to see the little guy get any attention.
Larry Page has changed his story since 2004. He doesn’t believe that Google’s job is to search the internet and deliver links. Google is slowly becoming a platform that is self-sufficient.
Google mischief is not breaking news. Unfortunately, marketers have been talking about it for years. But with any total domination, the landscape changes are not instant.
Google’s change spreads gradually, then exponentially, and finally, the whole first page for your search result is just Google’s content, and a few overpaid advertisers.
The travel industry has seen a huge exodus of online agencies, because of Google’s change in how it displays content. Anti-trust lawsuits are being brought to US court against Google. The US government, The EU, and the UK are berating Google executives to get to the bottom of this issue.
The EU has fined Google $1.7 billion for breaching European antitrust laws.
Unfortunately, Google is just too powerful and too futuristic for legislators to tackle this issue effectively. Simply put, the old men in suits are out of their league when it comes to IT regulations.
Even when Google doesn’t take most of the first page, it still owns the attention by providing the answer to your question. When you type “how to improve your writing” into the search bar, the first result is a featured snippet.
Google doesn’t own the content on that snippet. No. The platform doesn’t even ask the webpage owner if they can display its content on Google. Google just takes the content and runs with it.
“Google provides a quick answer or summary with a content snippet from a relevant website” — Google
If your page gets reduced to a snippet, you can forget about organic traffic, even if you rank as the first result on Google. Internet businesses are rethinking content marketing strategy when it involves Google. Google is not a friend anymore.
Some might argue that Google still attributes the content to the creator and places a link to the website. But if you are running an internet business Google’s behavior might drive you to bankruptcy. Most people, including myself, rarely ever look beyond the first answer and almost never click on the snippet link.
“Imagine you go to the library, and the card catalog is picking and choosing what book to get based on what makes the library the most money.” — Sally Hubbard, Open Markets Institute’s expert on antitrust and technology.
Content marketing strategy
Content writers can hardly fight for attention anymore. Imagine having a craft jewelry shop on a promenade, only to one day come to work and see a 5-foot fence erected around your place. You’re still paying the city-center rent which is increasingly higher each year, but you can’t reach walk-in customers anymore.
But that’s not the end of trouble. The next day is even worse. The fence builders decide to sell your materials and your jewelry without sharing any of the profit. But you still get the credit for your stuff. People have your name tags on the products. The credit somehow makes the whole thing even worse.
Isn’t that essentially what Google is doing? Am I missing something?
Internet writers are not just competing with other writers anymore, you are competing with Google’s attempt to drive traffic to its own/borrowed content and listings.
You don’t need a much different content marketing strategy, though. Search engines are not your friends anymore, but the content marketing strategy stays mostly the same.
A true business is always about relationships. When you make your customer happy and create a bond, not even Google can stand in your way. Joseph Girard is the Guinness World Record salesman and the only thing different in his marketing strategy is maintaining a relationship with his customers.
Joseph Girard sent letters to his customers saying a simple, I like you. Most of his future sales were returning customers. People had to wait in line to buy a car from Joe.
Today, newsletters are perfect for maintaining relationships with your customers. Substack and paid-newsletter services are becoming popular for writers. Prominent ex-Medium members have moved their content exclusively on Substack.
Many say that Substack is the future of blogging. The website offers a blog and a newsletter, giving you freedom over your email list. The email list is still the most profitable thing for an intrapreneur.
Tom Kuegler has recently written that 80% of his yearly income comes from having an e-mail list. With a list, you can reach your audience in a heartbeat. The relationship is more intimate than screaming for attention with the latest headline.
The future is in the Golden rule of business.
Creating an honest relationship with your audience is far more important than ranking high on Google.
The content marketing strategy stays the same, but Google is no longer your friend.