The Search World Is No Longer Flat

4 comments

Lately, I have seen a lot of responses from bloggers in regards to the latest developments at the Googleplex. There is a great post by Todd about the “Trustbox” and another one by David at Blogation on click fraud. Both authors bring up a lot of great points, but here is my two cents on the subject.

I don’t know about you, but I got into online business because I loved the level playing field the Internet offered. The idea of search engines picking the most relevant and the best websites seemed to me like a sign that not everything was lost. This was the medium where money could not buy everything and where hard work was always rewarded. This was truly a “flat world” where minds from all over the globe could collaborate, and even without an advertising budget you could promote a product that could beat IBM and Microsoft to the punch. This was the medium where I could sell my cake (and eat it too LOL), not because I had the money to advertise it but because it was what people were looking for. This was the field where I could get exposure not because my domain was 10 years old, but because I had something truly useful to offer.

So what do we have today? Today, we have Google Quality Score which can dismiss your advertising efforts even if you pay as much as the big guys. Today, we have 1.3 billion dollars lost to click fraud and the CEO of the biggest search engine telling us to look the other way. Today, we have a “sandbox” or a “trustbox”, or whatever you want to call it, which takes the level playing field we had before and raises some players over others. Now, even if I have something truly useful to offer, it is almost impossible to get into SERPs with a new website with no “backlink votes.” Today, we still have a “flat world”, but the search engine playing field is no longer flat …

Of course, there isn’t much we can do besides playing by the rules that the big players make up. But it is painful to see how the Internet has evolved into just another marketing arena with no prospects for the little guys. So, Joe The Travel Agent and Sara The Baker (whose cake is to die for), it looks like it is time to hit the local newspapers yet again …

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About the Author

Andrey Milyan was the first editor-in-chief of Search Marketing Standard, the leading print publication covering the search marketing industry. He has been following and reporting on industry developments for over 10 years. Andrey now works in the paid search sector of a prominent search marketing agency.

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4 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    I agree on the fact that the Internet has evolved. BUT, keep in mind that if "big guys" would not tighten their requirements - people would be abusing internet left and right.

    Back in a day (early 90s), it was enough to add any keywords to your meta tag and SEs guaranteed you placement. Knowing that, smart guys decided that they will add irrelevant keywords to bring traffic to their site...any traffic regardless of relativity of the site.

    So, Joe The Travel Agent and Sara The Baker just have to invest into their website, just like any other aspect of their business.

  2. Andrey Milyan

    Agree. And yet, now it is very difficult to them to get their product into the SERPs without spending considerable amount of money. Again, I understand the reasons behind all the changes Google is making. Just sharing my observations.

  3. Chris

    I have a real-world experience that illustrates just what you're talking about. Two friends and I had developed a niche-type software and were selling it on the web in 1996 or so. We didn't have an ad budget to speak of and only sold 1-2 copies a week, mostly from word of mouth. I tried to get us all the free publicity I could.

    One day, however, we were contacted by a Silicon Valley software developer who wanted to license our software. They had looked on the web and compared everyone selling this type of software, whether they advertised or not, trying to find the best. They thought we were the best even though they had a tough time even finding us. We signed on the dotted line and ultimately sold over 250,000 copies - that would have taken us 2,400 YEARS at our previous sales rate.

    If it were today, there is no way that company would have even found us if we were doing the limited SEO we did at the time and Sara The Baker probably does now. We would have had to be spending a lot of money on advertising, and we just didn't want to when the risk was so high.

    Sure, we were very lucky back then too, but given the same situation, I don't believe there is any way in hell that we would come to the attention of that company and made the money we did from that software if we were selling it today. We would have kept burning 2 CDs a week and slapping on labels as long as we could stand it, instead of having runs of 50,000 CDs done by "professionals" and cashing in those royalty checks each quarter :)

  4. Andrey Milyan

    Thank you for sharing this story with us. This is an excellent example of what I am talking about. The issue here is not only cost per click or amount of traffic from a specific keyword. It's about a chance for smaller companies to get some well-deserved exposure.