Google vs SEOs


23 May 2024

5 min

Two people engaged in a tug of war in suits

As we are constantly looking for people talking about search on the web, it has been impossible to avoid a recurring topic in the SEO subreddit of recent.

Titles such as:

all cropped last month at the time of writing. So as to not paint a picture that all of this is one sided there are for sure detractors in all of those posts, as well as people asking “is this your site, no wonder…”. This being said, it seems as if recent changes to the way in which Google ranks have touched a nerve for some.

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), as you likely already know (reading the blog of an independent search engine) refers to the practice of gaining a higher position on results pages through methods such as: gaining more backlinks, amending the structure of a website, or adding content which is relevant to the search terms in question. As most search engines do not disclose the factors which go into their algorithms, individuals and companies who are able to work out their secret sauce can also turn this into a source of income.

SEO as a skill has become a core part of an in-house technical marketing team, or a necessary line item when it comes to paying external freelancers or entities. The people posting in the r/SEO subreddit have made this their trade, the thing which they do professionally during their working hours.

Google Killing Industry

Which brings us on to the most-upvoted post of all these; it begins:

I have been in the industry for over a decade. I have always had long-term, high-value clients from Raptive and Mediavine Network for content writing. Recently 80% of my clients have either terminated the contract or revised it down significantly.

When you read down the page, what follows is a large number of different Redditors talking about job losses, the losing of business, and regrets about putting so many eggs in G’s basket. Google has sneezed, and a very large slice of an industry built up around it has got a cold. What has happened according to individual posters varies; some claim that their content has been scraped wholesale and the resulting websites have managed to outrank them, some have Quora or Reddit outranking them on content in their niche, and for others there is no real explanation.

The Problem

Regardless of the actual cause for these drops reported on Reddit, X/Twitter, and in the Facebook groups much-referenced in the linked posts, it’s quite clear that the reliance on one navigator does not only harm search engine users. We have written before that there is a problem online when it comes to informational diversity, but this makes it clear is that there are a whole host of other problems which emanate from the influence that Google has over Where People Go On The Web.

When a website ranks well across, say, three different search engines with equivalent userbases: A, B, and C, and A makes a substantial change to the way in which they do things, that website still has B and C to fall back upon. There will possibly be a drop when it comes to inbound traffic from search engines as a whole, but in this hypothetical situation where all three account for an even share of the traffic the most you can lose is 33%.

The situation that we currently have, to use and switch up this brilliant XKCD comic, is one where updates by just one company have the ability to completely change the way we interact, learn, and, of course, buy things online.

A range of different blobs labelled

Image from XKCD, license: CC BY-NC 2.5 Attribution-NonCommercial Generic, image widened (whitespace) for post.

This is one of the reasons why at Mojeek we’ve consistently pushed search diversity, not only through putting out content on popping filter bubbles, but also by providing easy ways that searches can be repeated on other search engines, allowing users to dive into the rich diversity of information that exists on the web.

This change/these changes could be temporary. It’s possible that in the coming months we might see a reversion, or some SEOs will find methods of reverting trends to something approaching the kinds of traffic that they saw before. Whether this is the case or not, it’s never been a better time to look elsewhere, as a user, a business owner, the owner of a website, or even someone working in SEO. As one Redditor said:

why doesn't everyone that has a niche site help guide readers and consumers to other search engines by placing ads in unused space for said search engines?

Maybe that goes some way to solving it; if that’s something you’d like to do, we won’t stop you!


23 May 2024

5 min

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