Pay Per View Content & the Scarcity of Clean Link Sources

The web levels the playing field, allowing individuals to compete with larger corporations, largely through the smaller players making dirt public and launching viral marketing campaigns around issues. Because there is a publisher publishing every opinion and angle, it is easy to discount just about everything, especially attempts for new market participants to become remarkable.

Gawker announced they are shifting their business model from quanity to quality:

Where there was a shortage of attitude and commentary, there's now a surfeit. And what's in heavy demand, and short supply, is linkworthy material, by which I mean a secret memo, a spy photo, a chart, a well-argued rant, a list, an exclusive piece of news, a well-packaged find.

With them determining quality based on the ability to garner links and pageviews, do you think that is going to improve content quality, or just cause more mud slinging and noise? The easy way to get more page views is controversy, as pointed out by Scott Karp and Scoble.

2008 will probably be a nasty year for online content quality, as the true flaws of PageRank and the selfish nature of bloggers with new found power shine brighter than ever, feeding off one another. Blogs that once acted as hubs spotting good ideas and sending visitors to them will now take your best ideas, reformat them, add a bit of original content, drop the attribution, and get the pageviews they need to get paid. Where they once linked at your new content look for them to link back to their recent greatest hits from 2 days ago. Every post builds off the last. Every blogger for themself. :)

Google has Knol. Wikipedia has Wikia search. Yahoo has answers. Mahalo has how tos. Topical channels that highlighted content will get greedier with links. Virtually every clean traffic source is trying to become the end destination too.

People will eventually get sick of controversy and traffic hoarding the same way we became banner blind. Anyone just getting started out might be able to make some moves into the market with controversial content, but for those who are already established the key to future growth will be going back over your old ideas, refining them, making them more accessible, and producing them in better formats. 10 pieces of anchor content will pull a site further along than 1,000 me too posts. And linking out will still help too, assuming you pay your content writers based on something other than pageviews.

Published: January 2, 2008 by Aaron Wall in


Patrick Altoft
January 2, 2008 - 11:48am

Paying bloggers on tech blogs by page views is so short sighted. Basically if your post gets on Digg it gets 20 times the normal number of views and you get your bonus.

Writers will turn into a bunch of digg spammers overnight.

Dave Keffen
January 2, 2008 - 6:54pm

Hi Aaron

We've been saying the same thing in the office for a while now. It seems obvious now that everything will have to be refined and accessible. So much of what we write is now re-hashed within a few days that it is starting to make me wonder whether we wrote it in the first place!

With so much similar content on so many pages there will have to be a point where all the major search engines try to draw a line under it. O.K. they've been trying this for a while now without reliable success, but as time goes on the quality of access will become a major factor.

Without a LOT of manual editing, (which ain't going to happen on a grand scale - I think blogs must have topped the billion page mark by now), how else will the best articles be chosen as definitive. We all know that the original articles may not be chosen for the ultimate SERP, but the cleanest coded, well laid-out, cross-browser accessible, not heavily ad. strewn pages probably will.

Something tells me we are all going to have to work a bit harder this year.

January 2, 2008 - 6:59pm

how else will the best articles be chosen as definitive.

Link reputation, and user feedback like page views and RSS subscriptions.

Dave Keffen
January 2, 2008 - 7:13pm

I'd better start making my rss buttons look more appealing!

January 2, 2008 - 9:07pm

At first I thought the PPV was a reference to monetizing video, which is something that could rescue Youtube (or kill it, depending on implementation). Also, we're in agreement on the issue of sites trying to become destinations once again. It's Portals 2.0.

Tamar wrote a great piece at 10e20 on the top 50 search happenings of 07, which prompted this point: "As to Knol being the Wikipedia killer, I think the issue goes beyond just Wikipedia. Knol is Google’s insurance policy. As more and more people start their searches with a specific destination in mind (W, About, Gooruze, Squidoo), they just navigate there directly and search those new directories."

You might also like this item on how to make a destination site:

January 3, 2008 - 6:07am

I saw a new web site with little to no promiotion, links, or content hit a PR4 in the last update. People like to get worked up over PageRank because it's one of the few badges you can show that says to someone that you're "important". I would like Google to do away with it, but I don't think that day is coming any time soon.

Shad Woodman
January 3, 2008 - 6:30am

I agree with kallussed above me as well. I think that the social element will be more and more important as people are looking for more and more serious and relevant content to their search queries. As much as Google has ticked me off over the last year, it is all about the public user experience satisfaction and not about what the SEO world thinks. Google has surprisingly maintained that focus and I think overall it is good.

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