Outside of hand edits, most search engine relevancy and trust scores come from looking at third party votes. You don't even have to be a subject matter expert to get tons of traffic if you can just come up with ideas that get authoritative channels talking about you. If you are good at public relations that will be reflected in the search results, both directly and indirectly. Trusted sites that link to you flow trust your way. Even if Google decides to manually edit your site out of the search results, you still have a defensible stream of traffic if you obtained coverage on high authority websites.
Those visitors are going to be hard to monetize unless the other site was reviewing your products or services, but many of those visitors may still link to your site or help push your brand in front of other people. If you have a strong affiliate program or a large set of legitimate organic mentions you don't need search engines.
A site of mine that got hand edited was mentioned in LifeHacker about a year ago. So far today that mention sent 22 visitors. Those visitors are highly qualified since they likely searched on a search engine or via LifeHacker's internal search, found that page on LifeHacker, read that page, then clicked through to my site.
The key with building up a strong link profile on trusted sites is to think about your idea from the perspective of creating something that is useful, wrapped in a story that has a self spreading mechanism, and biasing it to the target audience which is going to spread your message.
Conversation is the #1 signal of quality to search engines. That may change at some point, but for it to do so search engines have to try to change human behavior that has been built, marketed, and reinforced for thousands of years.
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