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Gravity Undone: The Decline of SEO Civilization

Updated on November 12, 2008
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The Decline of SEO Civilization

The country may be headed for a recession, but internet entrepreneurs are experiencing a reversal of fortune all their own. Widespread use and misuse of Search Engine Optimization techniques is turning internet physics on its head. Once regarded as the greatest key to online income and web success, SEO and the search engines that rely on it, are growing less relevant as their obvious flaws are exposed and exploited.

Webmasters, writers, and virtually anyone who makes a living creating online content understands that the profitability of their work depends on their ability to use Search Engine Optimization techniques. Those who have mastered the fine art of SEO may still be making good money, but those who are struggling to list in the first 100 pages of search results should not despair. Search engines that once dictated which sites would succeed and which would fail to thrive are losing control of the hierarchy.

"In its infancy, SEO secrets were in high demand, regarded as the key to page rank, views, and earnings. Those secrets, however, weren't kept long."

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Getty Images

SEO experts are aware that the system is breaking down. Developed as a way to maintain a sensible directory of the expansive and growing online universe, SEO has all but outlived its usefulness. In its infancy, SEO secrets were in high demand, regarded as the key to page rank, views, and earnings. Those secrets, however, weren't kept long.

SEO tips and tricks were learned, shared, sold, and published around the web. The popularity of SEO techniques spread throughout the internet, becoming easy knowledge for anyone who desired it. Unfortunately, widespread and effective use of SEO techniques has resulted in manipulated search results where page rank is a reflection of clever optimization rather than quality content. SEO experts are aware that the system is breaking down., and so is the general public.

Frustrated by a system that routinely offers effectively encoded sites rather than sites with quality content, internet users are turning to social bookmarking indexes for their information and entertainment needs. Sites like Digg and Stumbleupon host links that are submitted by users and ranks them according to popularity. A user is simply more likely to access valuable sites through social bookmarking than through the standard, algorithm driven search engines like Google and Yahoo. This change is drawing varied reactions from content providers.

" Exploiting SEO tips and tricks for short term earnings, SEO profiteers managed to sell the secrets of their own success."

Web wizards, many of whom made Search Engine Optimization their first priority, are already starting to see the effects of an outdated system. The techniques that once helped them reach the peak of page rank performance have been shared clumsily, thoughtlessly, and often for a ridiculously low price. Exploiting SEO tips and tricks for short term earnings, SEO profiteers managed to sell the secrets of their own success. Perhaps they simply failed to foresee the inevitable; their students became their competitors.

Those internet income renegades who never really caught the whole SEO concept, or were simply unwilling to compromise quality for better page rank, are reaching new levels of online success. Refusing to play the SEO game for moderate page rank improvement, these rebels turned to social bookmarking and forums to earn viewers and forge their online reputation. As social bookmarking has grown in popularity, so have the audiences of the independent freelancer. Sadly, it would be wrong to believe that success will continue.

"The rule of popularity and monetization is being turned inside out, leaving many to wonder which way is up."

The number of social bookmarking outlets is on the rise. These systems are gaining wider audience, but with their popularity comes an eerily familiar problem. The tips, tricks, rating parties and groups that site developers and content providers create to boost their bookmark page rank are becoming the topic of countless ebooks, websites, blogs, and social forums. Though steps have been taken to reduce fraud and manipulation, social bookmarking sites are struggling to maintain their own credibility, as did the giants that are tumbling around them.

This visible shift in internet law has many content producers searching frantically for a new direction. The rule of popularity and monetization is being turned inside out, leaving many to wonder which way is up. This income crisis is made even more complicated by the fact that so many online earners rely on SEO keywords to match advertising.

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    • sivanragu profile image

      sivanragu 

      9 years ago from Chennai,India

      Yes my friend....SEO secrets is not a guarded secret any more...Google has spilled the beans by releasing a starter guide which explains the SEO tactics and tips..Straight from the horse mouth....

      http://www.google.com/webmasters/docs/search-engin...

    • Lissie profile image

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      9 years ago from New Zealand

      Nice hub - and you raise some good points. As I said in my Google SEO secret's hub Google has never made any sceret of what will get you ranked - its just that most people don't want to know that they actually have to do some work to make money on the internet. There was definitely easy money to be made back in the early years but unfortunately that is long gone!

      I've also been told more than once that I won't make any money online because I am too honest LOL - guess what the latest fad in IM circles: "truth in marketing" - LOL! I actually find that I will search sites such as HP plus a few blogs of people I know and trust before I buy any IM product now: the google results are just all crap because everyone games the SEO on them :-(

    • Kate Downs profile imageAUTHOR

      Kate Downs 

      9 years ago from New England

      emilclemons~~ I agree that the many have been sold out by the few. However, I think those who have sold SEO tips were probably not very successful using them on their own. Failing to 'make millions with SEO tips' on their own sites led to 'make millions with SEO tips' ebooks.

    • emilclemons6757 profile image

      emilclemons6757 

      9 years ago from FLORIDA

      Very nice hub! This is just my opinion, some Seo professionals probably made more money selling their tips and tricks than optimizing websites. The problem with that, the Seo professionals trying to earn a living optimizing websites have been betrayed and out witted by their Seo colleagues.

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