You young’uns have been living in a search summer for the past three and a half years. You don’t remember what a search winter is like.
The last search winter hit in the summer of 2006 and didn’t thaw until 2009. It started with the decimation of the adsense review sites. Most of you won’t remember the fatal summer Google teetered on becoming unusable – every search term was littered with adsence looking to make every click a winner. It was horrible and Google needed to act.
Google went all Lannister  on these sites and the owners went from feasting kings to having their rivers of cash turned off in the blink of an eye. It was devastating (Totally deserved but devastating).
Google had no choice, it was kill or be killed. Keep this in mind…
Soon to follow was the first of the now infamous Google Slaps , targeting micro publishers using pay per click to drive their niche businesses. Google needed that inventory for high paying clueless corporates. It’s view of quality had little to do with effectiveness. Small businesses all over the world were frozen out in that long winter.
Sites providing high PR links for pay were hunted down like Starks at the Frey Red Wedding. None would survive, none.
Ultimately it was a good thing, these search engine shenanigans needed to get punished and they were. Google was not afraid of causing collateral damage.
They sent a message, Those of us who survived heard the message loud and clear.
After a long, long search winter. Spring came and everything was peaceful.
Web 2.0 sites enjoyed an advantage for a while, and paid link sights flourished with little worry of retribution. Google has only so many resources and there priorities where elsewhere.
People, crops and websites got fat and lazy in this long, breezy summer.
Winter Is Coming…
Let’s cut to the ending – Since April 2009 as a survivor of the last winter, I sounded (and was about as popular and listened to as Nanna Stark) the warning.
There are no shortcuts. The only way you’re going to have any level of safety in your niche is build a fortress of content that delights your market. Stock it with the fuel of being one of the top 20 influencers in your market. When the next search winter comes you’ll need both of these things to survive (and thrive).
The First Spring Snow
Those of us on the wall have been sounding the alarm for the last 15 months. Just like the summer snow, Panda was a sudden reminder that Google had teeth and after a period of calm. Things were changing.
Google has no choice, since the last search winter, Twitter and Facebook have become all pervasive – most real people don’t use the internet as we thought of it in the last winter – they live safely behind the walls of Castle Facebook and never venture out into the dangerous web countryside.
This is a massive problem – while the summer has lasted – Googles results have become worse and worse. let’s face it – the algorithm of Search powering Google to it’s incredible success was built on backlinks and the ability of google to give those backlinks an authority rating.
Small problem, in 2012, the only people who are creating links that Google can read are;
- SEO Types creating links of dubious quality
- Digerati – they still remember how to blog and create links – how quaint.
- umm, that’s it.
Let’s contrast to people who hit the like and retweet buttons.
- Everyone and your Momma!
This is a big problem and to Googles credit they know this – the famous “URS Quake” letter sounded the alarm bells.
Google’s results have been getting worse and worse and with the lack of compelling backlink data and a complete freeze out of everything happening in Castle Facebook they have resorted to the Search Engine equivalent of “No one got fired for buying IBM” by heavily favouring brands in the top 10 of their search results. This by the way is such a dumb move – but their hand has been forced.
WINTER IS COMING.
Just yesterday Build My Rank was obliterated off the face of Google. By all accounts – Build My Rank was pretty benign – but at the end of the day you were paying money for links and that brother, is going to get you put up against the wall when the revolution comes.
It’s not like Google has been keeping quiet on this. At SXSW Matt Cutts announced a major shake up in “overly optimised” websites was coming…
WINTER IS COMING!
Here’s what’s going to happen.
Google is about to go scorched earth. In a night of the long knives a Lannister would be proud of, they are going to go postal on these link farms that have been making a mess of the google results.
Then we are going to see the major change Google themselves have already foreshadowed. For the first time since Larry and Sergey made the authoritative backlink the cornerstone of Google, the backlink will be demoted. The Google Plus, The tweet, The Like, The Pin will be the new indicator of choice.
You’ll have a rank of sorts, the more likes your content receives, the more followers you have (without engaging in the piss weak follow you follow me shenanigans) will give you an authority on what should appear in the search engine.
Everyone’s search will be different – if one of your friends have recommend something – you’ll see it.
This is ultimately a good thing. Once this winter is over, your great content with your raving fans will see you thrive on the other side.
Just like the last long winter, for many, it will be unpleasant, in some cases tragic.
But it will ultimately be worth it.
HOW CAN YOU SURVIVE THE WINTER.
- Create content that delights your audience (actually, makes them feel any emotion is a start) on a CONSISTENT basis
- Become one of the top 20 influencers in your niche
- Understand that in winter the nights are long and the arbitrage opportunities are scarce. Build a business not a shortcut.
- Do you only have one source of traffic…If the answer is yes getting others is job 1!
WINTER IS COMING.
The summer of shortcuts is almost over in online marketing. Those that get this will survive (and Thrive) in the Winter. Those that don’t will end up like Ned Stark in Kings Landing.
This is the first of what will be many “Game Of Thrones” references, they will be really funny if you know “Game Of Thrones” series by George R.R. Martin and the awesome HBO series. If you don’t just pretend they’re funny.. ↩
Little known fact: I was the person who first coined the term “Google Slap” ↩