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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{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt February 27, 2011 at

I was thinking more like 2 years…

Should be interesting to see how this new seo change pans out.

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2011 at

Actually, you’re probably very right about that number Matt. Technology has ‘dog years’ in the sense that it develops at a much faster rate than any other part of the world.

Thanks for the comment bud.

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Mark Mathson February 27, 2011 at

Marcus,

You hit on a key point. There is such a great flow of information, massive amounts of content: tweets, status updates, check ins, blog posts, pictures, videos posted on the Internet that search engines have a massive task to index and serve up relevant results.

That being said, as search engines and whatever is the future of search, we can’t rely 100% on shooting for the top rank all the time because as we found out with JC Penney, often companies get desperate to hit the ceiling.

Great content, curated to those that are looking for the information, as you said written in a language and in terms of keywords that are relevant to the reader with necessary calls to action will prevail now and beyond.

Mobile is changing this landscape even further, as we are finding out!

Great thought provoking post.

Best regards,
Mark

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2011 at

Thanks Mark, and great comment here man, especially this phrase:

desperate to hit the ceiling

Yeah, JC Penny got the beat-down for that one, and many other business have or will experience the wrath of ‘Big G’ in the future assuming they keep up to their tricks.

In reality, it’s just getting to a point where you can’t take risks, otherwise you’re business, for all intents and purposes, is shut down because you’ve lost all search engine presence. What a scary thing that is, ehh!

Keep up the great work over there on your blog Mark.

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Jon February 27, 2011 at

It’s encouraging, actually. For those of us who plan to stay in the game, this is great. We’re publishing content that we want people to find valuable. We put time into each post, we conduct research, and our reputations are based on over-delivery.

We’ve been networking with others who we care about. Seems the big “G” is finally catching up to us.

Now, I won’t lie. I’m still going to have some fun with niche sites. But for any of us dabbling in that space we’ll just have to try harder to create a better resource. Instead of firing off 50 mini sites and putting in marginal effort until 5-6 of them are profitable; we’ll be paring things down. We’ll see each project through and optimize it to make all the time and effort count (and actually have the site noticed, not de-indexed). Everyone wins this way.

Good find, Marcus. I’m going to read more about it.

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2011 at

Wow Jon, what a great comment man.

Yes, it is a good thing….at least for those of us that are busting our rumps to produce a solid product on our websites day in and day out. And anything big ‘G’ can do to be more quality centric and less ‘robo’ centric, I’m all in favor of.

You’ve also brought up another great point Jon–how we invest our time as internet marketers. Many people currently spend the majority of their time on these low-quality niche sites. Will that change? Maybe not greatly this second, but I certainly think it’s inevitable. And many are going to have to accept the demise of what is currently their cash-cow.

Interesting times brother, thanks for the great comment.

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Jerry Nihen March 4, 2011 at

Very well said! I also agree what everything he said actually…

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Hector Avellaneda February 27, 2011 at

Marcus – I have to agree with Jon above. The only people that should feel bad about the changes in the google algorithm should the those that don’t put forth the time and effort into each post and who just hit”publish” to put something on the web.

With all the technology and resources we have today it feels little weird t say this but times are definitely changing in the world of SEO. You definitely wont be able to keep playing by the old rules much longer and I thin you made an excellent point when you said that in the next 10 years Google’s algorithm will be human! Google attracts the best developers form around the world it would not surprise me it if happens before then!

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2011 at

Yes Hector, on board with you man.

Google race to humanity is a reality that we’ve all got to accept– and if one is quality oriented, they’re going to embrace such a change as well. Publishing junk in the future will not only score you no points, but it will also set you way back because customers (searchers) can’t stand clicking around 500 places just to find a quality site. Google wants GREAT results every time.

Love having you on here Hector. Thanks again.

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Jk Allen February 28, 2011 at

Hey Marcus – this was informative man. I try to keep up with Google’s updates but it’s easier said than done. With all I have going on, I tend to read their blogs weeks behind schedule.

I love the direction they are taking. I feel it’s to the benefit of us all, as a clients (searcher) and as a blog owner. I’m willing to share the grounds with other sites with solid content…but it’s disheartening to fall behind automated niche sites. Honestly, I’m not sure if that is or isn’t a reality for me – but I think Google’s update ensures more benefit to those who produce with the best of intentions.

I think the intelligence that Google already has is unbelievable, and getting better each year. So in ten years, especially at the rate of technological growth – it’s unimaginable for me. I can only imagine it’s like going from riding a bus to a sports car.
I like what you said – “we should write to please humans not machines”. Ain’t that the truth.

My hope is that these changes, evolves the current approach to SEO. The most relevant piece of the equation being valuable content, followed by the outliers.
Thanks for making sure that everyone was privy to this info…it’s encouraging! And, I love the enthusiasm you displayed…I’m all excited now and headed to find the original blog post.

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2011 at

I’m willing to share the grounds with other sites with solid content…but it’s disheartening to fall behind automated niche sites.

Can I give a big, fat AMEN to that statement JK!!

With my pool business, I deal with crapola sites all the time. It drives me bonkers when I’m shelling out genuinely helpful content and I see some jacked-up SEO site that is obviously manipulating keywords to get in front of me. Kinda makes you want to call Google direct and complain….(Oh, that’s right, No Such Number Exists!)

Anyway, you and I share the exact same sentiments on this one bro. The future looks bright for those of us that are willing to continue to produce the right content the right way.

Your support in these parts is awesome JK, thank bud.

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Tristan February 28, 2011 at

Halle-freakin-lujah.

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Most niche sites (not all, but most) are crap. Up till now they’ve been tricking both Google and searchers into thinking they have quality, relevant information. Looks like that’s finally changing.

I also think 10 years is a bit on the conservative side. I like the 2 years figure that someone else here in the comments gave.

I think that social media will play a bigger role in the SERPs. If something get a lot of shares (or likes or tweets or stumbles or diggs or whatever), that will come into play more and more.

I’m with you, though. SEO has never been my focus. It’s too volatile, too moody. Of course I optimize my posts and my blog, but I always try to write for my peeps first and the computers second.

Great post, Marcus, and good riddance to niche sites ranking high.

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2011 at

Good riddance to niche sites ranking high

Word to you’re mother Tristan ;-)

Like you, I believe in online capitalism and the goodness of some niche site, but the very large majority are junkola.

Great point too about social media. The only problem there is again, somebody is going to game the heck out of the system, and then Google will have to regroup. A constant battle it will be, that is for sure.

Thanks for the comment my friend.

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Daniel M. Wood February 28, 2011 at

The changes google are making are really benefitial to us bloggers.
Sites with relevant, quality, original and often updated content keep getting more and more priority in the search queries.

That is exactly what we bloggers produce. Relevant articles for our markets, hopefully of decent quality, they are original since only you write exactly what you write and we keep updating our sites.

In the future I think this will become even better and keep benefiting companies that help their customers and focus on building relationships.

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2011 at

‘Building relationships’….well said Daniel. And that’s what we’ve got to do to be successful, now and forever.

Keep up the great work on your blog buddy!

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John Sherry February 28, 2011 at

I don’t know about envision but I will tell you what would dream of Bryan. The end of hated robot humans. People who create automatic sites or social network links simply to promote themselves. Case in point is my Twitter profile which gets uba number of followers a day who are gone within 48 hours. They use robot software to get follows and if they fail to get them they’re off. This art of the internet I dislike vehemently and people who are only in it for themselves seeking no interaction wth you at all. So if Google or anyone can rid us of the false non-authentic menace then I all for it. I prefer real contact and connection with real humans who do the work themselves like you always do here. Nice to talk to and with you my friend. Be brilliant as you are Marcus.

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2011 at

Well Dang John, that was stinking awesome. Now you’ve got me fired up again!!

So if Google or anyone can rid us of the false non-authentic menace then I all for it.

That statement there John might when the best of the year award here on TSL ;-)

Seriously though, your passion doesn’t surprise me because you’re all about real people developing real relationships, in many ways the antithesis of everything we see from twitter spam and most niche sites. This is also why your audience is so loyal to you as well John.

Appreciate the powerful words my friend.

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Mukundan Srinivasan February 28, 2011 at

Content is defintely going to be the future. No doubts about it but the quality of content really matter. In the Recent Google’s algorithm huge penalty has been put in terms of ranking on content farms. Google algorithm has been changing continuously to provide the best content urls in top results. So it’s time to think about quantity. Quality matters more now.

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2011 at

Good points Mukundan, and thanks so much for stopping by!

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paul wolfe February 28, 2011 at

Marcus

Firstly I think this is good news for those of us who try and put out original, quality content on a regular basis.

Secondly I think the ‘quality content’ model works far better as a long term strategy for your business than trying to rank in the search engines. Once you start getting an audience, your content starts the job of building trust and expertise – factors that are vital if these people are going to move from being readers or subscribers to becoming paying clients. It’s MUCH harder to convert a ‘cold’ visitor who arrives via Google into being a paying client – as they’ve not been part of the ongoing relationship that your content builds.

Thirdly I don’t care what happens to Google in 10 Years time. The only time I spend thinking about ‘Google’ is filling out the fields for the ‘All In ONe SEO’ plug in every time I write a blog post. And that’s it. I’d much rather work on creating an audience by participating in forums and communities, leaving blog comments on blogs I really like (like this one!), than in trying to get ranked by building back links, or stuff like that.

Fourthly, I know you’re in the US and perhaps haven’t perceived this part of the algorithim change – but Google haven’t rolled this out to the world yet. Only in the US. So if any of your readers have websites hosted in other countries, they are not affected. Yet.

Fifth – if this gets rid of those spammy 3 or 4 page niche sites that gets an almighty HELL YES! from this side of the pond.

L8r.

Paul

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2011 at

Ahhh Paul, this list of 5 was tremendous brother.

Personally, I’m diggin your straight-to-the-point frankness here as to your SEO efforts and what you’re focus is– PEOPLE, pure and simple. For you, it ain’t about the machines, and like you said, it’s sure as heck tough to convert a ‘cold’ lead into a buying customer.

Looking forward to your guest post here on TSL this Friday.

From my side of the pond to yours Paul, another awesome comment :-)

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paul wolfe February 28, 2011 at

No worries Marcus – I enjoy answering your posts. I started this whole blog commenting thing from a very superficial level of commenting to try and get traffic back to my site – but it’s taken on a whole new level that I’ve not seen anyone writing about anywhere. (Tristan – are you listening???)

Leaving comments here and on other blogs is really stretching my thought processes and making me examine what my strategies so that I can explain them – and also makes me re-evaluate them. Am I right? Should I be doing this? Could I be doing it another way that works better for me and my audience?

Blog Commenting is becoming an invaluable thought exercise for me – even when I’m busy (ALWAYS!) I try to find an hour or so in 20 minute fragments to visit my favourite blogs, absorb the content and think about a reply.

Looking forward to Friday too….

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Jason from Skyward February 28, 2011 at

“Personally, I’m of the belief that Google’s Algorithm will be human before we know it.”

Right on brother, and we’re seeing it already. As Google has focused less on meta keywords and more on content along with many other changes, the tide is already turning.

There’s no substitute for great content, that goes without saying. However, my question is: how difficult will it be in 10 years to rank for anything on the SERP’s?

Thought provoking and visionary post bud!

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2011 at

Well if I made Jason Hughes think I’m doing pretty dang good, ;-)….Thanks brother.

You’ve brought up a great question though– How in the world will anyone be able to rank for anything in 10 years??? Maybe they ought to do it as the Jews in the bible, and start all SEO over every 7 years….now that’s a heck of an idea!!! :-)

Thanks for the support and comment brother.

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Patricia@lavender-oil February 28, 2011 at

Hi Marcus

Who knows what Google will be thinking in 10 months, let alone in 10 years??!! A lot is written about SEO and every article I read says something different lol

I have always concentrated on writing for my readers. If the content is quality, then the rest falls into place. And niche sites can and should have quality content. That’s the way I plan to build my sites. Along with keywords and backlinks expect them to do well.

Patricia Perth Australia

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2011 at

Ha Patricia! You’re right though, Google’s algorithm is about as volatile as the weather outside my office right now. In fact, they’re utterly unpredictable sometimes.

I think you’re following best practices Patricia– write for the readers. Make ‘em happy….and yes, the rest will fall into place— as you do with every article. :-)

You’re support is always so very appreciated, thanks!

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rob white February 28, 2011 at

Hi Marcus,
Thanks for the clear breakdown… I had heard about this but not sure what it all meant. This does sound like good news for the likes of us. My first priority has always been to provide top incredibly valuable content and wisdom. Such is life, when we speak/write from our heart-mind we will reach an eternal audience. Stay the course and persist and all will be revealed.

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2011 at

Darn straight Rob, and you speak from the heart as well as anyone I know….I really mean that and always enjoy how you make guys like me think.

Thanks so much for the comment.

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Matt Mansfield February 28, 2011 at

Great post Marcus!

This is actually the primary philosophy behind Site Build It!, a company that help folks build niche sites based on content and pleasing humans with the thought that pleasing humans=pleasing the search engine algorithms.

I tried their program for a while, but the tools were too limiting for a gear-head like me. However, their philosophy has become a big part of my outlook these days.

A couple of things more:

1 – What will this mean for membership-type sites where the content is hidden behind a login? Gonna’ have to find an audience in other ways.

2 – I do not believe this is the end of niches; far from it! However, it will mark the end of sites which provide little value to their visitors.

3 – Oh, so that raises another question: what will happen to corporate brochure sites? Will this mean that a business will have to blog or cut bait online?

-Matt

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2011 at

Oooo, good questions Matt…

1. I would think the membership sites will still be fine, assuming they have some open source content as well and give enough value to their members.

2. Agreed. Niches will always likely be there, but the junk ones are going to get tossed out in the trash.

3. Yep, I do think an active company blog will be a minimum requirement for businesses within the next couple of years, kinda like a general website is a requirement today.

Great stuff Matt, thanks so much for stopping by bud and your post in the forum as well!

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Crystal February 28, 2011 at

I won’t even pretend to comprehend all the implications of this move but I’m thrilled nonetheless. Unlike most of the folks I hang out with online here and elsewhere, I really can’t seem to wrap my brain around all the SEO stuff anyway – so this is great news for folks like me! Write for real people? That I can do. I’ve had a custom memorial quilts site in the works for quite a while and one of the things holding me back was the keyword nightmare. Well, I finally got the kick in the pants I needed when Christina over at CashCampfire challenged everyone to do something amazing by her 21st birthday (who could resist?) and now my new site is live. I forged ahead figuring people in need of the info or service would eventually find me somehow – and now Google may have switched things up to make that more likely? How cool is that?

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2011 at

Sweet Crystal! I feel your pain though girl—- Producing great content and being at the mercy of junk sites that has no value is terribly frustrating. But good for you for having the inner drive and desire to get your site up and rolling. That’s awesome!

Would love to know how it shakes out for you.

Thanks so much for the comment Crystal. :-)

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Bryan February 28, 2011 at

Right on, Marcus. I’ll admit, the truth about content took me a while to grasp. I had SEO geniuses tell me to focus on content. “Content is King” right? Well, I did, and you know what I found out? King Content doesn’t mean a thing when no one knows you even exist. There has to be a balance – always but ESPECIALLY when you’re just getting started. I put a lot of effort on offering as much as I could to other people. I didn’t really even mess with SEO in itself for a while.

And that’s the one thing I would suggest to start-ups. Yes, SEO is important and will become even more so in the future. But don’t start there. You’ll be another sell-out site selling hair care products before you know it. Instead, focus on other people who write content similar to yours. Not niche, per say, as I write and correspond with people of all kinds of niches. But, focus on people, focus on them, on their sites first. Then, have something worth their time when they come back to yours. After a while, if you’re interested in going deeper, the SEO will begin to make more sense. It’s ALL about searchers. All about clients. ALL about people. Thoughts?

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Marcus Sheridan March 1, 2011 at

But, focus on people, focus on them, on their sites first. Then, have something worth their time when they come back to yours. After a while, if you’re interested in going deeper, the SEO will begin to make more sense. It’s ALL about searchers. All about clients. ALL about people.

I don’t want to sound patronizing Bryan, but that was freaking genius brother. As well said as anything I’ve seen on the subject. Wow.

Your constant support is awesome brother.

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leon Noone February 28, 2011 at

G’Day Marcus,
It’s still all a bit of a mystery to me. I use Scribe to help SEO rankings for my blog. But it occurs to me that so many web marketers are obsessed with what they call “traffic.”

Whether your “niche”, whatever’s meant by that, is tiny or enormous, you still need a crystal clear business focus and a narrow, very specific target market. I notice that not too many people recognise the difference between a “target market” and potential customer.

I claim no marketing expertise except experience. But I can count. I’d much rather have a list of 1000 carefully targetted clients and/or prospects who were very likely to buy and/or recommend my products and services, than a list of 100,000 names indiscriminately acquired.

If Google can help me find and service my target market, I’m happy to follow their “rules.”Makes sense to me.

Yours in Curmudgeonly Aussieness,

Leon

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Marcus Sheridan March 1, 2011 at

You’ve made a great point my Aussie friend— traffic ain’t everything—but good traffic is everything.

It’s true. Kinda like Seth Godin’s ‘raving fans’ principle– all you need is 1000 and then you’re off to the races.

Continued success to you Leon, and thanks so much for commenting mate.

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Stuart February 28, 2011 at

This isn’t the first article I’ve come across that talks about the changes in Google’s algorithms shake-up; a lot of people seem to be wondering about the future of SEO.

I don’t think it’ll take 10 years for Google to become more human, I think it’s happening already, every day. There’s a lot of people who are going to be miffed at the changes here, but they have low-quality niche sites designed to make money first and provide value second. It’s clear that Google has taken a stand against this, and wishs to reduce its ‘spammy’ content by making it harder for low-quality websites to succeed.

To this, I rejoice; high-quality requires hard work and so the efforts should be rewarded. At least now, we’ll get to see more content-driven sites on the internet, and be able to go somewhere new without wondering if we’ll get spammed or conned out of our money.

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Marcus Sheridan March 1, 2011 at

Wow Stu, that comment was rockin brother, thanks for bringing the heat man. :-)

Yes, the change is happening as we speak. 10 years is much too conservative if I do say so myself. Almost everyone on here has said that 2 years is likely the proper answer, and I very much agree with this.

You’re awesome Stu, thanks for coming by and supporting TSL bud.

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Jens P. Berget February 28, 2011 at

I have actually not been thinking about this at all. On the one hand, I have thought a lot about SEO and how to improve my site, on the other hand I have almost given up, because the algorithm changes all the time (at least it seems that way) and I don’t want to focus on the technical part of marketing.

What you’re saying makes a lot of sense. I have witnessed many awful sites, with really bad content, at the top of Google, just because the sites are old. It seems that old was the only criteria. Because everything else was crap.

The only reason why Google survives at the top, is because they are providing the best search results. And the best results will always be the results we, real people, are looking for. In the end, quality content will be at the top. The problem is how do we define quality content, that’s the solution for what google are looking for.

There are many ways to define quality content; a lot of comments, many people who have shared the content via social media, people stay at the site for a long time, a lot of back links etc..

As you are saying, the important part of this equation is people, real people.

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2011 at

As you are saying, the important part of this equation is people, real people.

Exactly Jens, that’s it in a nutshell.

Like you, ‘old’ sites being ranked high just because they’re old sometimes makes me want to shoot my computer. It’s very frustrating but what the heck are you going to do about it? In many ways, the only thing we can do is continue down the patch of content excellence.

You’ve made some great points, as always Jens, love having you around bud.

Marcus

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Dia February 28, 2011 at

Hi Marcus,

Wonderful post my friend on the lastest news from google. Just like Bryan mentioned, I also think that the key is to write great and original content, but at the same time, make it “SEO friendly.” This way, everyone wins and we can reach more people who are looking for our content.

I think this is great news Marcus, so people who produce great content can be found by the people who are really in need for this information.

Thanks for sharing my friend

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2011 at

You’re right Dia, a mix of solid content that’s SEO friendly is a win/win every time. In fact, I think your blog is a really, really great example of this maybe more than any other one I can think of.

Always appreciate your support bud.

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James M March 1, 2011 at

I’ve been listening a lot to the TWiT network of podcasts, and I’ve been hearing two related messages over the past year or so.

1) People discover products, services, news, etc. more through their social feed than by reading news sites or search.
2) One of the aims of Google is to give you the answers to questions before you even think of the question.

The two are related to me because the only way Google will fully discover and understand how a person behaves is by following the social groups they are involved with. Google has made search results more personalized in the past by including links of people you are connected with at the bottom of the page (but not to the extent it could be), and they are being more predictive in results through Google Instant.

By eliminating a lot the garbage sites from their results, they can zero in on pages your friends from your social networks are more likely to click on and create a more curated search experience for you. It will still include algorithms to figure out what your social network is doing and push those results higher. The garbage sites will drop dramatically in search results as they become less referenced by your or anyone’s networks.

Niche sites will disappear if they provide garbage information that no one enjoys reading, but niches will always exist as long as people have different interests. I can’t see TWiT’s shows or some of the local ESPN networks failing within two years because of this. They still have a niche audience by providing great content that people want to share.

There will still be the possibility of gaming the system to a degree (ie paying someone on Fiverr to Retweet to hell one of your posts on different accounts). The key for Google will be finding what information is being retweeted and discussed the most from within your own social (niche) network.

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Marcus Sheridan March 2, 2011 at

That, my friend James, was freaking awesome. Seriously.

It was a blog post within itself, almost a part 2 to what I wrote above (except better written than mine ;-) ).

The points you’ve made about social web are critical….and clearly will be influencing things as we look ahead.

Again, this was great James. Thank you so much.

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Marlee March 1, 2011 at

Okay, first let me say, I need to stop being late to you blog. I can’t keep up with all the brilliance poured out in the comments section. And at this point all I can say is….”yeah, what they said.” ;)

On a side note, I think that niche sites won’t be out of the game, they will just have to play be different rules. So by virtue of that there will be less of them since they have to work harder.

Overall, I think Google’s changes and quality control (although there may be hitches along the way) are only going to help people find truly valuable products and services that meet their needs. So ultimately we need to do the same if we are going to get on the radar.

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Marcus Sheridan March 2, 2011 at

Hey Marlee, thanks so much for your kind words regarding the reader comments here. I’m biased, but I think they’re pretty dang good myself.

‘Different rules’ is a great way of describing the system. In fact, I’d say the rules will become simpler— great content written for ‘the people’. (Kinda like what’s found on your blog ;-) )

Always am grateful for your support Marlee.

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Sheila Atwood March 1, 2011 at

Marcus,

I agree with Marlee. Niche sites will not be out of the game. The rules for niche sites. will be just what you stated: “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.”

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Sheila Atwood March 1, 2011 at

Marcus,

I agree with Marlee, niche sites are not out of the running. The rules for niche sites will be just like you stated,

“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.”

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Marcus Sheridan March 2, 2011 at

You’re probably right on with that Sheila. I think the statement needs to read:

“Niche sites, at least as we currently know most of them, will be dead with future changes.”

Thanks, as always, for your wonderful support Sheila. You’re a tremendous help to this blog.

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Keith Davis March 1, 2011 at

Got everyone thinking Marcus but I have no idea where SEO is going in the future.

I learnt what I know about SEO from Rand Fishkin’s site SEOMoz and if you keep visiting his site you will become aware of trends and changes.
I paid a visit before replying to this post and found a great video for outreach for bloggers, link is…

http://www.seomoz.org/blog/outreach-for-linkbuilding-whiteboard-friday

The whiteboard Friday is a great series to follow.
When Rand Fishkin takes part in the video, his passion for the subject makes SEO seem sexy – well almost!

Sorry for a rambling comment but I hope it may encourage people to do a little SEO reading /viewing.

BTW – I think that lions are cool so I clicked the box

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Marcus Sheridan March 2, 2011 at

I’m so glad you brought Rand up Keith. For whatever reason, when I first started learning about the internet and SEO I saw one of his vids and was entralled (we’re kinda similar ;-) ) and somehow forgot about the guy…..until now. Sweet.

Your ramblings are awesome btw, love ‘em, permission granted to ramble on my blog whenever you’d like ;-)

Thanks again bud.

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Keith Davis March 1, 2011 at

Sorry for second comment Marcus but this is an example of Rand Fishkin in full flow… love his style.

http://www.seomoz.org/blog/four-creative-link-building-tactics-whiteboard-friday

SEO with bite.

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Deb Augur March 1, 2011 at

Hey Marcus,

Not all niche sites are bad (I know you realize that) and not all bad ones will die or be gone down the road.

I’ve had niche sites for ten years. Quality, authentic sites that reflect my passion… and make money from advertising. No Google slap has ever hurt any of them, well maybe a for a day or two, but that’s it.

Spammers will always adapt just so they can piss us off. They get off on it — that and ripping people off with their BS offers.

But Google turning to real people? I think it’s highly unlikely. Why? We’re approaching nearly three hundred billion sites on the web and growing at a phenomenal rate. Try and get listed in any human powered directory and you’ve got a long wait… talk about frustrating. We are an “instant gratification” society and “instant” is quickly becoming too slow. The human is being phased out of as many things as is “un-humanly” possible. I don’t think that will change.

I do agree that Google’s intent is to ultimately give us the best search results it can. After all, that’s how they remain #1.

I wish you luck with your wish for human reviews, but I always like to say, “be careful what you wish for!”

Great post!

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Marcus Sheridan March 2, 2011 at

Hey Deb, thanks so very much for such a great comment here.

My comment about Google being human wasn’t actually literal. In other words, I think the search engines are becoming so advanced, so human-like, that they’ll be able to think and act like humans in terms of the way they view websites in the future. Will this be a good thing? Not sure, but if it happens, and they really do have the ability to assess a page as you or I could, then awesome. Great.

Continued success Deb, and thanks again. :-)

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Deb Augur March 2, 2011 at

Ah! Of course. My bad. ;-)

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Steve@Internet Lifestyle March 7, 2011 at

Marcus,

Looks like I am a little bit late to the conversation, but you have some very perceptive remarks here. I think you’re deathly right in a short time, probably a lot less than 10 years, Google really real read search results with a more, “human” eye. Is certainly working its way there quickly.

This ultimately will provide a lot of opportunity to people who write quality as well as a lot of defeat to those a try to simply game the system.

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Adrienne March 7, 2011 at

Hey Marcus,

Well I finally made it to your blog after hearing so many people applaud what an awesome job you do. Better late than never right!

So when I saw this post I had to read it and comment. I will agree that most, not all, but most niche sites are crap. They throw them up, throw a bunch of useless and regergitated content on them and then sit back and wait. I’m SO thankful I never strayed that way. Okay, I tried in the beginning but it’s just not my style. I prefer adding value and actually interacting with my prospects instead of sending them to junk. I will be interested to see if your predictions are correct. Won’t be good for most I know.

Enjoyed the post and thanks. I promise to return now.

Adrienne

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Dr. George Suarez November 19, 2011 at

This change I think will benefit all those who are working so hard to provide great value and quality content to their readers. It’s about time they made this change.

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