Google Search Results, the Death of Niche Sites, and Why Inbound Marketing is the Future of SEO

by Marcus Sheridan

future of SEO

Where do you see the future of SEO?

By this point we all know that search engine rankings in Google can make or break a business, and because of this reality, the race for SEO has been on for the last 15 years or so, with constant changes in Google’s ‘sacred algorithm’ making every SEO’s job a most complicated task. But Google made big news this week with the following statement on their blog:

In the last day or so we launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking—a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries—and we wanted to let people know what’s going on. This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.

The Beginning of the End?

So what’s this simple statement mean? Well, in my opinion, a few things. First, it marks the beginning of what Google will actually become.

I’ve never viewed SEO (or Google) as a magic machine , requiring the perfect mix of keywords, backlinks, and the like to give positive results. Yeah, sure that’s what it is today, but my gut tells me that’s not what it’s going to be tomorrow. Personally, I’m of the belief that Google’s Algorithm will be human before we know it.

“Human, what the heck to you mean Marcus?”

What I’m saying is that I think we should write to please humans, not ‘machines’ or ‘magic equations’…if we’re thinking long term. I say this because I believe the day will come when the search engines read pages exactly as a human would—and see the value, or lack thereof, in the content.

The Death of Niche Sites

This brings me to another point:

I believe niche sites will be obsolete, at least as we now know them, in 10 years.

Well actually, they’ll still be there, but they sure as heck won’t be showing up in search engine results as they do today.

Why? Because it’s Google’s job to give their clients (the searchers) the most relevant and helpful information possible. Google doesn’t want people gaming the system and simply showing a one page sales pitch on the latest miracle hair treatment for men. Such a ‘product’ simply doesn’t fit the bill.

I know many readers of this blog have niche sites. Heck, I’ve even played with and made money from them. But based on the fact that great content is becoming a moral imperative, I simply can’t believe the days of niche sites, at least as they’re currently done, are viable as a long term business model.

Does this mean you couldn’t start a niche site today and experience great success?  No of course not. In fact, if you’re good, you may very well make a ton of money. But you better get it while you can, because if Google’s statement is any indication of their future search engine goals, niche sites will be going the way of the dinosaur.

Content and Inbound Marketing are the ONLY Answers

This is also why great content, and tons of it, worded in a way that searchers and consumers can actually understand it, is the future of search engine results (SERPs).  Like the Google quote said, they’re looking for “ in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”

To me, this also is another haiku for inbound marketing—The concept of giving so much great content  (be it blog articles, free reports, white papers, case studies, videos, etc) to consumers that you (or your company) become the source of education that every consumer is looking for—and thus makes Google dang happy.

Your Turn

So my question, friends, is what do you envision Google’s search results to be like in 10 years? Do you think the ‘man in the machine’ will be more human than ever? And will niche sites go the way of the dinosaur or be stronger than ever? This is an important subject so I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

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