Google search indexing is free but competition is fiercer than ever for the coveted first page. There are only 10 spots on page 1 search results. Then you have 3-4 ad spots at the top, plus structured data and Google Knowledge Graph cards which boosts CTR and traffic to your site. These all can help get you on the first page and drive targeted traffic to your site, but you most likely won’t be able to compete on your own. Nowadays it’s quickly become a pay-for-play game and it’s killing organic reach.
Enter paid advertising.
Advertising is killing organic reach on social media and it’s cluttering up Google’s SERPs (search results pages) with ads linking to sites which may or may not have good content. Anyone with money can be on the first page of Google. To me, that’s a bad thing. (I know it’s been that way forever, bear with me while I layout a problem I see coming…just keep reading).
For those that don’t know, basically, Google places ads at the TOP of search results pages and I argue that this this is hurting Organic Reach of those who earned a position on the first page through organic SEO and creating quality useful content.
Some people will say “Duh! That’s how ads work.” But I think they’re missing the point.
I agree…it’s how advertising works. But it equates to pay for placement.
Think about it. Google says they don’t accept money for paid placement…but that’s EXACTLY what they are doing when they place ads above the search results.
They are placing PAID links to possibly lesser quality websites at the top of search results pages ABOVE those who earned a spot on the first page of organic search. That should piss off everyone who works hard to keep their Google rank.
The ads result in a large percentage of people clicking on those ads because they are placed at the TOP of search pages above organic results.
Tell me how that’s fair. Go ahead. I’m listening.
Pay-for-placement is what that is.
If you’ve got money you can place your ad above everyone else’s organic search results. And no…Google Ad Rank doesn’t offset the quality differential between paid ads and organic results.
Also, I suspect that most of the people that click the ads don’t even realize they are ads even though Google marks them as ads. (though I can’t prove that hypothesis)
Here’s a stupid question. Why would anyone need to pay for ads for SEO if they’re selling SEO?
Think about that!? If you’re selling SEO services and you’re not ranked on the first couple pages for the term SEO, then why the heck is google placing a link to that persons/company’s website at the TOP OF SEARCH?
Money! That’s why.
It’s all about the profit.
And here’s why it’s important.
It’s unfair to those who work hard and spend thousands of dollars creating quality content and SEO to get their page in organic search results.
I will make an educated guess and argue that the vast majority of people doing a Google search for any given topic are completely unaware that the ads they are clicking on are probably NOT linking to the best quality websites with the best quality content.
Wouldn’t you agree?
Unfortunately the metric that would tell us the answer to that question is confidential and Google doesn’t release it publicly. (that I know of) As far as I know, we don’t know Google’s CTR on the Google Ads that are atop every single search results page ever rendered, versus the organic results.
Google is all about quality, and I get it, they’ve got a great model. It’s the last great model I think.
It seems like I’m attacking Google for essentially selling paid placement.
I am, to a point. I’m well aware of how search works, how proper SEO techniques work and how Google serves the best search results in the world.
However, they also say they don’t do “paid placement” but really they do. Effectively, that’s exactly what Google Ads on search results pages does.
They try to justify it with Ad Rank and claim that Ad Rank only shows the best ads.
But Ad Rank rewards advertisers for high CTR…and Google assumes this is what people are searching for or want to see, and that they’re happy, when in reality all it means is that the Google Ads advertiser writes good clickable headlines and descriptions.
Clickbait! Anyone can write a good clickbait title and description on an ad.
It says nothing really about the quality of the website that the ad is linking to.
And that right there is why paid ads at the top of search results pages is hurting pages that actually have quality relevant content.
Google makes money on this, and lots of it. They’re not going to get rid of the model. They won’t stop it. It’s just the way the model works. It’s Google’s entire model.
If Google got rid of paid placement on SERPs then they would probably lose billions of dollars in ad revenue. It would essentially be corporate suicide to get rid of the ads.
So we’re stuck with them.
Social Media is also Killing Organic Reach
Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks including Instagram and Pinterest are killing reach by throttling pages and post’s organic reach and selling that reach back to those who own those pages and built their audiences.
In my opinion it’s wrong. People will argue that “It’s just the way it works.” But in my opinion that is an ignorant thing that followers say.
Here’s the thing. It used to be freer and easier to reach more people, but it’s not anymore. It should be. But it’s not because social media networks realized they could take your organic reach and then sell that reach back to you and make billions.
This totally goes against the whole idea of social media!
Think about that. Social media exists to connect people. And it does, to a certain extent. But nowadays if your post is even remotely considered to be commercial in nature (which could be ANY post now), social media algorithms will deliberately throttle your organic reach so you have to pay to reach your own audience/followers.
In my opinion, that’s ethically wrong.
“But it’s not illegal.” people will say.
What a logical fallacy that kind of thinking is.
Let’s be clear. LEGAL DOES NOT ALWAYS EQUATE TO ETHICAL OR MORAL!
That’s called a false equivalency and it’s just plain wrong.
People will say “that’s just the way the system works.”
And I say…yeah OK. You’re a follower. You’re a sheep. You’re cattle. Go join the herd. Your flock is waiting.
Let me give you an analogy.
If someone signs up on your email list they are your “subscriber”, right? Yes! They are.
Now…if someone clicks “Follow” or “Like” on your Twitter or Facebook Page, they are also your subscriber, right? Yes! They are because they have effectively “subscribed” to you.
The point is they OPTED-IN to see your content.
So…Facebook and Twitter deliberately throttles your organic reach, to your own audience and in the Newsfeed.
If you have 100k followers on your Facebook Page and Twitter, they will throttle your organic reach and sell it back to you for a profit.
That’s extortion, essentially.
Your Audience is Being Held Hostage for Ransom and Social Media Networks are The Kidnappers
If you want to reach all of your followers, you’re going to pay handsomely for it. They are essentially ransoming your own followers/subscribers back to you.
If your email service (Mailchimp, Aweber, Constant Contact etc.) said to you:
“Your email list has 10k people on it, but we’re only going to only let 5% to 10% of your 10,000 subscribers see your email/post unless you pay us money.”
What would you tell them?
You’re tell them to F off and you’d cancel your account wouldn’t you.
See how that works?
People will argue and say “That’s not the same thing.”
I argue that’ it’s EXACTLY THE SAME THING!
If someone OPTS-IN to follow you, your blog and/or your page on social media, that means they are opting in to subscribing to your content and you should be able to reach ALL YOUR PEOPLE with your post. Period. End of subject.
It’s not cool to throttle people’s organic reach.
It’s effectively telling content creators that all the time and work and money that they spent building their audience isn’t enough and now you have to pay AGAIN to reach the audience that’s technically yours already.
Facebook and Twitter will argue that it’s about “serving quality content” and better results in NewsFeed. But that’s just an empty excuse and a half truth. It’s a bogus excuse because the people who like your page and follow you on Twitter, IG, FB, etc. have already chosen to see your content and they already think it’s high enough quality content to opt-in to see it by liking and following you. So that “quality content” excuse doesn’t fly!
It’s all about the money!
You built your audience. You work hundreds, even thousands of hours building your audience and then Facebook and Twitter say
“NO! Your audience is not really your audience, it’s our audience and you’re going to pay to reach it.”
If your email service company said that I’d you’d tell them to get bent.
Your audience is your audience. Those people are your subscribers. They are people who have chosen to see your message, and they are being held for ransom.
It amounts to extortion. That’s an extreme opinion I know, but it’s technically true.
Organic Reach is Dying
Growing your audience is quickly becoming pay-for-play and it goes against the whole philosophy behind social media.
Which is Free! Social media is supposed to be free. Completely free. So is the reach. That’s how it originally worked.
That’s WHY it originally worked.
Why not just charge for social media!?
Would you use Facebook if it were $10/month? Probably not. I know I wouldn’t use Twitter if it were a subscription based model.
Again, some folks will argue that “That’s the way it works. Social media companies have to make a profit.”
And I agree. Profit is the name of business. It’s the whole purpose of business. But that’s what advertising is for. Pure advertising.
Not advertising that ransoms someone’s audience back to them.
Don’t throttle organic reach. It’s wrong. It’s greedy. It’s not “just how it works”. It shouldn’t be anyway.
Eventually people will get fed up with it. Eventually Facebook and Twitter and Instagram will get called out on their greed. Will they do anything about it? I doubt it. As long as there’s a profit in it then organic reach is going to die a long slow painful death.
Companies are realizing that they can throttle everything for a profit and this will effectively make organic reach a unicorn. A very rare thing indeed.
I’m not sure where social media is headed, but it’ll will be good for the real SEO business and Google search…for as long as Google search is free.
Will it always be free?
That’s how it works.