Aaron Wall, an accomplished SEO and the founder of SEOBook, posted an informative and somewhat controversial blog post yesterday regarding the display of ads and Google properties within the search results. The blog post contained the following image of a Google search engine results page for the query “HD Monitor”:
Even though Aaron said he was using a huge monitor, only Google ads and links to other Google pages appeared above the fold.
During every quarter of 2010, Google’s revenue growth was equal to or less than that of its partner sites. However, starting with the first quarter of 2011, Google experienced a rapid turnaround and it revenue growth quickly grew to over double the revenue growth of its partner sites. Is Google’s increasing revenue percentage due to SERPs like the one above?
2010 Revenue Split:
- Q1 Google sites grew 20% and partner sites grew 24%
- Q2 Google sites grew 23% and partner sites grew 23%
- Q3 Google sites grew 22% and partner sites grew 22%
- Q4 Google sites grew 22% and partner sites grew 24%
2011 Revenue Split:
- Q1 Google sites grew 32% and partner sites grew 19%
- Q2 Google sites grew 39% and partner sites grew 20%
- Q3 Google sites grew 39% and partner sites grew 18%
The revenue numbers indicate that Google has started strategically directing the traffic it controls to sites they can profit off. Although Google has profited nicely from this “minor” change in the algorithm, the hundreds of thousands of small businesses and publishers that are currently making their living at affiliate marketing have paid a steep price.
In addition, Google recently took aim at the SEO community with the following ad:
“Forget about SEO. To be visible in Google today, try AdWords.”
In November, I had the chance to see both Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal present at Pubcon. During that session, Cutts told the audience that SEO is a type of marketing that appeals to human nature. He said that while SEO will change and evolve, it will never go away. Cutts encouraged the audience to be proactive and said, “You do not want to go where search engines are; you want to go where search engines are going to be.”
So based on trying to “go where search engines are going to be,” I think the following question is fair:
With the lack of “real estate” for organic results, the disparity of income between Google properties and partner sites, and the recent AdWords campaign telling people to “forget SEO,” where exactly is Google headed?