Google Doesn’t Want Your Content to Succeed

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Product Minting

Yes, you read that right: Google is killing organic search and doesn’t want your content to succeed.

This is a tall claim I’m making. I’m fully aware, but I’m also not the only one. In fact, almost a decade ago, Jeff Haden, renowned business writer and speaker, wrote a now-famous article about it in the Inc. magazine.

But how did we come to this conclusion? Three developments in the recent and distant past have led us here.

  1. PPC and sponsored Ads usurping Google SERPs
  2. Google’s shift from a “search” engine to an “answer” engine.
  3. The Generative Search Engine (GSE) in progress

Let’s go through each one by one.

For Google, it is ads over organic content.

In 2016, when Google moved the sponsored Ads from the sidebar to the top of SERPs, they effectively moved the organic results from “above the fold” to “below the fold.” So, now, publishers and brands were not just fighting competitors with good content but also competitors with money to spare on Google Ads.

No wonder then, today, paid advertising is Google’s biggest revenue driver.

Today, sponsored Ads, especially for high commercial intent keywords like “best email marketing tool,” earn more clicks than organic results do. Even back in 2012, when Jeff was writing about Google killing organic traffic, more than 50% of the traffic was driven by sponsored Ads. Clearly, the tactic worked in driving traffic (and customers) to company websites and still does.

This just means bad news for brands who only rely on organic search to attract traffic — unless they have a solid distribution network and PR to save the day.

Given how competitive the content landscape has become, getting a page 1 rank on Google is no longer profitable. As for page 2 – well, as someone on the Internet once wrote, “The best place to hide a dead body is page two of Google.”

Going from “Search” to “Answer”

Did you know that nearly two-thirds of all Google searches end without a click?


Can you guess why?

Yep. It’s because Google answers your query at the top of the SERPs itself, so you never bother to scroll down and check out the “links.”

(Also, let’s be honest here. More and more users are looking up information on social media platforms like Reddit and Google. That’s another part of the changing SEO equation. I’ve covered much of it in my story about the Dark Social.)

You’ve probably noticed the changes in the SERPs yourself: featured snippets, knowledge panels, product listing Ads, images, YouTube videos, and more. These elements make up the first panel of information visible to a user on any device.

Just see the search results for “best project management tool,” the high commercial intent keyword I mentioned earlier. I got one sponsored result and a knowledge panel from Google.

Google results for the keyword "best email marketing tool."

Google results for the keyword "best email marketing tool."

And if you click on any of the “tool” icons, you get three organic results to choose from. So, from a list of 10 links, it’s now down to three.


Is your SEO strategy and content good enough to beat these odds? For most small websites, the answer is a resounding no.

Generative AI + Google =?

In case you didn’t know, Google is turning a new leaf with generative AI and unlocking a search experience like never before. After introducing Bard to the general public in March 2023, Google is now expanding Search with its AI-powered search engine, Search Generative Experience (SGE).

Currently, SGE is available in beta to select users only, but Google did give a sneak peek of its latest features. For example, with SGE, you’ll be getting a summary or overview generated by AI inside a knowledge panel, just like a featured snippet. Here’s a first look!

A first look at Google's upcoming Search Generative Experience (SGE)

A first look at Google's upcoming Search Generative Experience (SGE)

Clearly, Google wants to provide an “answer” to a query rather than direct the user to multiple links. Think voice search – you asking a question and getting straight answers, but for users who prefer to read. And this is just one feature!

In Google’s own words:

With new generative AI capabilities in Search, we’re now taking more of the work out of searching, so you’ll be able to understand a topic faster, uncover new viewpoints and insights, and get things done more easily.

But if every user gets a direct answer to every query at the top of SERPs, who is going to scroll down the first fold and look at other links?

As a Google user, SGE sounds super convenient, but as a content creator, I’m concerned. Though Google does mention that they’re “committed to continue sending valuable traffic to sites across the web.” — it’s too early to comment or conclude anything.

But, without a doubt, SGE is going to transform the way we search and browse the web. And, in effect, change the way we create and optimize content for search engines.

A big change is coming.

Google could’ve been a level playing field for creators of all sizes. It owns more than 92% of the global search market, after all. But SERPs are expensive real estate and up for grabs to whoever bids the fattest dollars.

And that’s why Google is slowly but surely killing organic search and the reason why your content is likely positioned for zero to minimal success.

Unless, of course, you’re ready to lose your purse strings!

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