2 min read

The Easy Money In SEO Is All Gone

Informational keywords, that bottomless reservoir of organic traffic online publishers and SEOs have relentlessly been tapping over the last few years, may very well be on the verge of drying up.

And much like global warming in the real world—the consequences of which we’re grappling with on all continents—the causes are complex, not entirely within our control, and most probably irreversible.

It’s too early to tell what exactly’s going on, but the ongoing Google helpful-content update seems to have swept away 20-25 to 40-50% of many a niche and affiliate website’s traffic within the last 24 hours as it lifted Reddit, Quora, Instagram, and the likes back to the top of the SERPs.

Have a look at this YouTube video by Carl Broadbent.

Or the #seo channel at Yoyao’s Niche Surfer Discord group.

We’re talking about a 40 to 50% organic traffic loss en masse. Yesterday, your site had 10,000 visitors. Today, half. Ouch. Brings back memories of the Panda and Penguin days, for anyone who remembers.

Algorithm updates can be like that; you add—or boost—a parameter, and it shakes up the whole web by turning search results upside down. Then you tweak it a little more and things bounce back to more or less the way they were before. So if you just lost a lot of traffic, don’t rush to conclusions. Give it time, wait it out, and start drawing conclusions only once you know that it’s over.

What’s interesting about this particular update is that Google’s practically reversing—at least for now—years of SEO tactics by prioritizing the social web over blogs, news outlets, and niche websites. (Except for the big names, which never seem to be impacted.)

Is this a mid-update hiccup?

Or is so many websites’ main source of organic traffic about to bury their pages ever deeper down the SERPs than everyone ever thought possible?

Only time will tell. But I’m betting on one thing: as Google conducts more and more experiments to try to respond to ChatGPT and stay relevant, the days of organic search as a boring, predictable traffic channel are numbered.

So buckle up—it’ll only get rockier from here.

(Let’s not mention the fact that people are spending hours on TikTok, which is well on its way to becoming the mobile Internet’s biggest search engine, even if for short-form video content.)

It’s a bad time to build websites, and a good time to optimize the websites you already have. Yes, content is becoming a commodity and traffic is on the decline.

The "good news" is that you can still make more money—even with less traffic. Because most websites are under-optimized when it comes to revenue.

For too long, monetizing websites was too easy: Research keywords. Publish content. Add display ads. And maybe the occasional "Best This For That" post. Very soon, this is about to change.

I have a hunch the next big thing will be Conversion Rate Optimization. One metric to rule them all: Dollars Earned per Page View. This is what I’ll be focusing on. It’s a harder game, but if you get it right, it’s also more rewarding.

How about you?