My real expert opinion on Google, SEO, and the mess that’s to come (not the LLM junk)

Skry being right on the money:

Still those web pages about me being a Google SEO expert or having an algorithm named for me are being indexed and prioritized by Google, all because Semrush hallucinated (or was there a malicious hand in this?), told a bunch of people (in south Asia, predominantly) about the 8,100 references to it (I still don’t believe it), and those people then went on to create pages to game Google using various LLMs and bots. There are probably more blog posts about me than there ever were, so I suppose I should be flattered, and also relieved that Semrush didn’t tell everyone to write something nasty or libellous (which Google would willingly have shown, since it engages in libel systematically).

This experience reminds me of the dying days of Vox, when it was part of Six Apart. Vox was being overwhelmed with fake registrations and automated blog posts—back then they were advertising escort agencies in India. A few years later, Six Apart called it quits. The database had been damaged, and it was losing the bot battle.

This is where Google is right now. It knew this would happen but chose to do nothing, because it may have taken a page out of Facebook’s playbook: the more bots there are, the more people will be forced to pay to boost their posts to get them in front of actual humans. Facebook has long been pay-to-play. We know from the US DOJ’s discovery process in its antitrust lawsuit that Google will worsen the search experience to keep people on the site, and what better than to fill it up with junk and claim, as Marissa Mayer has, that it’s not Google’s fault, but the web at large, for creating it?

Except, of course, Google literally finances the junk:
Google ads on top of a bot-written page about me being a Google SEO expert

Six Apart’s problems with Vox weren’t intentional, but Google’s are. And with this being a strategic move, then my advice to all those “writing” posts with the keywords Google SEO jackyan or Google SEO jackyan update 2024 is: get out of your game doing SEO. Judging by most of the output, indeed almost all of it, it’s not even a real profession. And, for God’s sake, stop writing fake stuff about me.

Indeed, to anyone reliant on Google, this is the time to start planning your post-Google future. Based on current trends, Google will go the same way as any other website that has lost its battle with bots. You can watch this happening to MySpaceX right now. By 2030, Google will be a much smaller company.

Companies and organizations need to think about their marketing mix and reduce their web spend in favour of other media. They will need to think strongly about their brands and how to be consistent between media. All those ideas about integrated marketing communications never went away, but they are going to be vital in the latter half of the 2020s. And presences outside of the digital realm are going to be important.

We’ll also all need to pivot to other search engines that aren’t as plagued by LLM- or bot-written pieces. I always said that if Google vanished overnight, we’d find substitutes within a week. We still would. Sadly, it looks like that will be Bing, which has had a patchy 2022–3, though in some respects it has recovered. I’d rather it were Mojeek, which has a continual improvement process, and the sort of chutzpah that being the underdog gives a company, but it is centred on countries that use Latin script for now. It might be Yandex for those who are fine with their reincorporation in the Netherlands, away from its Russian roots. Baidu will be spotting an opportunity to move in on the west.

Google is currently the victim of its own greed, and it doesn’t take a genius to see what’s coming next.

And since all those SEO phonies are asking you to hire them, let me make my own pitch: I can help you find your way out of the oncoming mess. This is real.

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