One of the more irksome narratives in the Google FTC investigation is the notion that some businesses are totally dependent on Google's organic traffic and that gives Google too much influence in the market. Horse feathers! I will go so far as to say there are NO legitimate businesses that are totally dependent on Google's organic traffic, and that any business that is so dependent for any length of time is ipso facto not a legitimate business. A business that relies solely on traffic from Google must have no brand. That fact carries some interesting implications:
- If almost no one navigates to your site directly you must do no marketing other than in search. That's a choice a business owner has made, not the fault of a search engine.
- If no one passes a link to your site to their friends, or recommends your site to their friends, that says a great deal about your business, none of it good.
- If all the links pointing to your site were created by you, that says quite a bit about your business, none of it good.
- If you're a small business just getting started, okay, you get a pass for a while, and good luck to you. Back in the day, Fred's lawn service might have been wholly dependent on the local yellow pages for a time. People searched for lawn services, some called Fred and that got him going. Over time though, repeat business and word of mouth had to carry Fred's business if he was going to make it. Growth would allow him to diversify his marketing efforts and broaden his reach. If that didn't happen Fred would have and should have gone out of business. Businesses that are dependent on Google traffic are dependent because they provide no valuable service to users.
- Users of search engines don't want to be on these sites and don't return by choice.
- The job of search engines has gotten exponentially more difficult because of all the crap. Google and Bing have mountains more hay to sift through to find the needles of quality sites users actually want to find.
- Advertisers don't benefit either. The lost souls who find themselves on these garbage sites can't find what they're looking for, and the ads they see aren't likely to help. The quality of this traffic to advertisers is awful, leading to advertising inefficiency. That, in turn, leads to lowered bids, and lowered CPMs across the spectrum of sites on which they advertise. That hurts the publishers of legitimate sites who serve these same ads but now at lower revenues, and hurts the advertisers because they lose visibility on the higher quality sites that users actually like.
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