Generating traffic through SEO for your content is the “holy grail” of digital marketing. At least that’s what you’d think if you listen to most SEO specialists.
I love SEO, it’s a great free way to generate additional traffic in the long-term. At least it used to be.
The game is changing and you have to be aware of what’s going on.
Last year Google went through several major updates. Whenever Google updates there are winners and looser.
Many funnel builders and content creators have seen a huge drop in search engine traffic.
Anecdotal evidence also suggests that Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) are now even more skewed in favor of corporate news and social media sites.
But this is by far not the worst thing affecting your content and funnels SEO…
(BTW: I expect that this article will be censored in the search engine results. If you like it and think people need to know what’s going on please share!)
Big Tech Is Using Your Content to Keep Traffic To Themselves
While this statement sounds alarmist, it’s also true.
Over the last 5 years Google, Facebook, & Co. have spent millions of dollars to capture as much traffic as possible. Now Big Tech is directly competing for traffic with your website.
It used to be that there was a symbiotic relationship between search engines and content creators.
Creators produced relevant, valuable content and were rewarded with better Search Engine Results Page (SERP) positions. This increased their visibility and traffic.
Search engines made money by helping their users find the best answer to their search queries while showing ads at the top and bottom of their SERPs.
But this isn’t the case anymore.
Silicon Valley and Western economies thrive on the myth of perpetual growth. In digital terms, this means more they have to capture more and more traffic – forever.
Under this kind of pressure, the search engine business model turns out to have a fundamental flaw. The classic business model was helping users find what they need quickly and sending them on their merry way.
However, in the quest for eternal growth, Big Tech has figured out that the longer users stay on their platforms the more money they make.
Given that, Google has started competing for traffic with content creators and funnels builders using the following three things:
- Google Answer Box
- Google AMP
- Clone Services
Let’s dive into each of them and see how they affect the traffic your funnel or content gets.
Google Answer Boxes Are Keeping People Away from Your Content
Google Answer Boxes are a common sight. Type in any keyword that has enough search volume you’ll likely see a box at the very top of Google SERP like the one below.
Google’s First Results For The Keyword ‘Berlin’ Is An Answer Box
According to Google’s algorithm, this box is the best answer to my search query (i.e. question/problem).
It’s important to note that the answers don’t come from Google themselves. They are scrapped from content created by independent creators. Without their consent and with no compensation.
While this feature is great for users it absolutely sucks for content creators who are trying to generate traffic for their funnels.
Nobody will visit your page, read your content, and click on your CTA if they can get answers without leaving Google.
As if this isn’t enough, Google has also put a “People also ask” drop-down menu below the answer box.
Google’s “People also ask” Drop-Downs Answer Any Questions A User Might Have
So people don’t even have to visit your site for any follow-up questions they may have.
Again, Google simply scraps content from other people’s websites and uses it to keep users on their site. (Yes, the answer in the image above is wrong. Clearly, the algorithm isn’t perfect.)
Interestingly enough, this may be illegal under upcoming European link laws (i.e. EU Copyright Directive -Article 11). Under this law, EU content creators could potentially charge Google money for using excerpts from their content.
It will be interesting to see how this will play out.
I can foresee a situation where the “Google Answer Box” & “People also asked” feature disappear from European versions of Google.
Google AMP Threatens To Take Control of Your Mobile Traffic
Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a web technology framework that creates web pages that load super-fast on mobile devices.
Considering that the majority of Internet users now access the web from some sort of mobile device, this makes sense.
AMP works really well. Boosting load times to one second or less. While reducing mobile page sizes to 10 times less than regular web pages.
But when you take a look behind the sciences, you’ll quickly realize that Google AMP is bad!
AMP is bad for content creators and users alike. Google AMP is only good for Google.
AMP takes your website and strips it down to its basics and then recreates it in a format that Google likes.
Firstly, by using modified markup to make your AMP page primarily indexable by Google. Forget about getting traffic from Bing, Duck Duck Go, and co.
Secondly, it strips out all your analytics data. You’ll get no more data to optimize your mobile content and funnels.
To explore this, the good folks over Kinsta ran a test that found that enabling Google AMP dropped their conversion rates across the board. With mobile leads dropping by 59.09% alone!
Of course, mobile-friendly design and fast load times matter.
Equally, Google rewards AMP-compatible pages with a slight boost in SERP rankings.
Keeping the above in mind, I’m wary of a company that scraps other people’s content and uses it without permission for their own benefits.
What’ll stop them from replacing your Call-To-Actions (CTAs) or affiliate links with something more beneficial to them or injecting ads into your AMP pages in the future?
Given Big Techs’ track record… very little!
Google Micro-Apps Are Using Your Content & Keeping The Traffic
Another way Google competes for traffic with your funnel is by cloning service, or simply scrapping information off your site and using it on their platform.
This is what happened to currency converters:
Google’s Micro-App That Let’s You Convert Currencies Directly In Google SERP
Even flight booking and comparison websites are not safe:
Users Can Get Flight Information Without Leaving Google
When Google sees that there are useful little services/web apps that are getting a lot of traffic they simply clone them and show them within the SERP to keep users on their platform as long as possible. Other Big Tech giants have cloned entire startups just to generate new inbound leads.
Again, the content that powers these micro-apps doesn’t come from Google. It’s scrapped off various websites.
Undoubtedly this is a questionable tactic at best, yet more importantly, can you compete with it?
If you’re like most content creators and funnel builder the answer is probably no.
And that’s why SEO should never be the only traffic generating strategy you use to market your content.
Final Thoughts – Big Tech Is Competing For Traffic With You
Big Tech rules the internet and there’s no sign that this will change anytime soon.
Upcoming EU legislation might have the unintended side-effect of slowing this monopolization of power down, but it won’t stop.
Until a critical mass of content creators force change (be it legal or grassroots) Big Tech (i.e. Google) will continue to compete for traffic with content creators and funnel builders. Using content, they haven’t created or paid for.
This is why I keep talking about the importance of owning your own platform.
Yet what is clear to me is that the times of “free” traffic is over.
Welcome to the “Pay-To-Play” future!
Being that there is hope. I sincerely believe that good content will always rise to the top if marketed right.
I’ll share some ideas on how to work around the SEO “crisis” in another edition of this blog.
For now, remember the old phrase “forewarned is forearmed”.
Plan and act accordingly. Remember Big Tech is not your friend, own your own platform!
PS: I’m pretty sure that this article will get censored in the SERPs. If you like it and think people need to know what’s happening please share! (Use the buttons below)