How can a viable online business model be built and maintained when we have google messing with things every other day. The short answer is, you can't. Nobody in their right mind would create a source of primary income with google dancing all over you. They change and tweak and alter the rules hundreds of times a year with their search algorithms. They favor a crap site like ehow and slap hubpages.
My advice, treat it as a bonus side income that may only be short lived. Never expect to live off this gig cause it just isn't meant to last.
This is the future. There is no way this can be shut down, this should really be a full time job for many people. There would be a lot more useful content out there, especially if we got paid more.
Its about diversity.
Google search traffic is the cheapest and easiest traffic but if you are 100% reliant on it then you are at the mercy of another entity for your bread .. that is bad.
There are other search engines, there is Adwords, Overture and the like, there is social marketing, email marketing , there is the benefit of having a truly awesome authoritative site that people will refer for you.
SO you are right and you are wrong - the online business model does not have to be reliant on google search but if yours is then you better have contingency plans!
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