Can The Little Guy Still Make A Living On The Internet?

Figuring out how to get and keep an income by building a website or websites seems to be a constantly changing battle.  The most recent Google search engine algorithm changes have many webmasters up in arms.  It seems that what used to work as far as gaming the SERPS no longer works as well as it used to.

The ideas that most of the purveyors of internet riches are selling in their "$30,000.00 in 90 days" Clickjunk Crap Programs aren't working so well anymore.  Google is on to the game and is working hard to identify the spammasters and kill them off.  The big G really does not seem to care all that much if all of these "updates" kills off a big chunk of their income as long as they can make the "search experience useful for their users".

Great!  Now what am I supposed to do?  Build an actual website that can help someone?  (more on that later)

The internet (with regard to SEO) has been up until this point (2011) been free and open, much like the days of the old wild west.  The Search Engines have been like the banks that sprouted up in every little town and anyone with enough guts, determination, and persistence could break into the bank and take as much money as they pleased.  (well... not as much as they pleased, but enough to make a living at it in many cases)

Those who have been working tirelessly to optimize their websites and build links, links, and more links in order to get on the first page of Google are starting to realize the jig is just about up.  Many of these folks have had their "business" cut out from underneath them.  But was it really a "business" in the first place?  Not according to a guy named Fraser over at Keyword Strategy.

Just look at the recent Google updates. They have come fast and furious and many of those with "thin" sites have all but been knocked out of the SERPS never to return again.  The time it takes for the Search Engine Masters of the Universe to realize that they are getting robbed is getting shorter and shorter.  Splork has a good article about one recent technique that spammers used to work the "trends" recently.

While I am quite sure that "bank robbing techniques" such as these aren't going away anytime soon, I am quite sure that this one in particular won't gain any traction and make anyone any money for very long.  Yahoo is way too smart for that.  Besides, it is embarrassing to them.

Having been in business my whole life, (paper route at 8 years old, chicken farmer at 12) I have learned a thing or two about advertising, and when I realized that I could get "free advertising" from the SERPS it seemed almost too good to be true.  Many of those who built up a nice internet income from all of this free advertising provided by Google seem to think that the big G owes them something.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

I remember one time committing to $12,000 worth of radio advertising (for one of my local "brick and mortar" businesses) because it seemed like a good idea at the time (and the sales gal was really cute) only to realize 60 days or so later that I had completely wasted  my money.  Who's fault was that?  Did the radio station owe me?  Hell no.  My fault.  Take your lumps and move on.

All of this being said, another thing I am quite sure of is that 10 years from now there will still be plenty of guys hawking e-courses that promise "Internet riches of 1 million in 90 days" and there will be plenty of anxious buyers, even at the incredibly low price of $19,997.00.  (inflation you see)  I also know that even if there is some semblance of an ability to actually make that kind of money from a course like that, that less than 1/10 of 1% will actually follow it and make any money with it.

So where to go from here?

Having built some semblance of authority type sites over the last year and a half and not really having taken a big hit in income due to the last "updates", I am going to side with Fraser Cain and say that the days of thin spammy type sites that are relying on adsense and even Amazon products are going to have a hard time maintaining position in the SERPS for any length of time, even if they have thousands of backlinks.

I'm not saying that "back links" are not important anymore, but they sure are a lot less important than some people would have you believe.  Quality is key, not only with the content on your site, but also with where your links are coming from.

So if you have not yet wasted your money on a "10,000 back links for $20" deal, save your money.  That shit stopped working over two years ago.  Now even sites with "better back links" from original content articles spread across the web on high quality blogs are getting killed off.

I'm not saying that these sites deserved what they got in the recent update, and if they are truly genuine original content that actually helps people with their search query then they should and probably will come back to rank quite well.

Those of us who have been building websites for a while now and ranking them in the SERPS with little difficulty are now realizing that it won't be so easy in the future to do so with our current business model(s).  This in not to say that there won't be a place for certain kinds of niche sites and such in the future, but for a real long term sustainable income from the internet I think that a larger perspective is in order.

Those of us who have had some monetary success by way of the internet for the last couple of years or so have a lot of talent as far as how to build a website, optimize it, gain the attraction of the SERPS, etc., but we really need to take a good hard look at what we are "building" and ask ourselves if it will last.

I'm personally going the way of building an internet business model that will capture the attention of, and gain long term returning visitors and customers.  Something that won't bend to and fro with the whims of the likes of Google and whoever else is going to replace them.  I am looking ten years out to 2021 and building something that will be worth 10 million bucks (in today's dollars) at that point.  What are you going to do?