A friend of mine mentioned how the noise level in SEO forums has gone from around 95% to about 99%. I think it is largely due to a shift from content optimization to content creation (and remember that this is a site selling a book on optimization, so me saying this is not in any way to my benefit).
Here is why there is a large shift from optimization to creation
- The ease which content can be published: It took me less than 2 hours to teach my mom Blogger, Bloglines, rss, xml, etc. She now blogs every day.
- the ease in which content can be commented on and improved in quality
- the casual nature in which links flow toward real content
- the massive increase in the number of channels and quantity of information makes us more inclined to look for topical guides to navigate the information space
- the ease with which content can be monetized has greatly increased. AdSense, Yahoo! Publisher Network, Chitika, new Amazon Product Previews, affiliate programs, link selling, direct ads, donations, (soon enough Google Wallet for microcontent), etc.
- contextual ad programs teach the content publishers to blend links, which has the net effect of...
- short term increase in revenues for small publishers
- until users trust links less
- at which point in time users will be forced to go back to primary trusted sources (ie: one of the few names they trust in the field or a general search engine like Google)
- it is getting increasingly expensive to find quality link inventory that works in Google to promote non content sites, and margins are slimming for many of those creating sites in hyper competitive fields
- the algorithms are getting harder for people new to the field to manipulate
- around half of all search queries are unique. most hollow spam sites focus on the top bits whereas natural published information easily captures the longer queries / tail of search
- duplicate content filters are aggressively killing off many product catalog and empty shell affiliate sites
- as more real / useful content is created those duplicate content and link filtering algorithms will only get better
- general purpose ecommerce site owners will have the following options:
- watching search referrals decrease until their AdWords spends increases
- thickening up their sites to offer far more than a product catalog
- switching to publishing content sites
- and the market dynamics for Google follow popular human behavior, even for branded terms or keyword spaces primarily created by single individuals
- the term SEO Book had 0 advertisers and about 0 search volume when I launched this site
- this site got fairly popular
- SEO Book is now one of my most expensive keyword phrases
As long as it is original, topical, and structured in a non wild card replace fashion content picks up search traffic and helps build an audience.
I am not trying to say that optimization is in any way dead, just that the optimization process places far more weight on content volume and social integration than it did a year or two ago.
The efficiencies Google are adding to the market will kill off many unbranded or inefficient businesses. One of my clients has an empty shell product site and does no follow up marketing with the buyers. I can't help but think that there needs to be some major changes in that business or in 3 to 6 months we won't be able to compete on the algorithmic or ppc front without me being very aggressive.
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