Giving All Your Great Content to Google for Free? Suicidal?

A person apparently hanging. We only see the legs and shoes. Appears to be suicide. Looks quite grim. In the best he's just jumping down from a stool.*

One day I chose to block Google search on this blog.

Some people considered me nuts.

After all it sounds like blog suicide!

Why would someone decide to block Google traffic?

It’s especially an unexpected move for a site about SEO (search engine optimization).

Actually it’s the exact opposite of giving up. Let me explain below!

The Great Content Give-Away

Google’s main SEO advice over the years was: “just create great content”.

They encouraged online publishers to give their most valuable assets to Google for free.

Is this a good business model? I’d even argue it’s downright suicidal to your business.

When you look around business people try to block Google from stealing their content all over the place.

The book authors and publishers have fought Google and their Google Books search for years.

Likewise there were lawsuits by those who didn’t want their images stolen by Google Image search.

Just look at the most successful corporations like Apple, Facebook etc.!

You may notice that they either block Google or at least try to limit its access where possible.

Average marketers and bloggers repeat the “content is king” mantra that corporations like Google feed us.

Now even more than ever. The content marketing hype is just the latest result of Google’s strategy.

You may wonder: what is Google’s content strategy in one sentence?

It’s: “make everybody provide Google the content they need for free”.

Want to Get Paid for Content? Don’t Depend on Google!

The technology press reacted with disdain to German publishers demands directed at Google.

What did major online publishers want? They simply wanted to get paid by Google. Why?

The search giant was using their content for on Google news and making money off it.

Most people were just reading the news “snippets” on Google and not clicking through.

This way all the content was doing was to provide Google with the context for its contextual ads.

Yet Google wasn’t sharing the revenue with publishers and content creators.

It’s not a new fight though, it has been going on for years.

Let me quote from a New York Times article from 2010:

“Hans-Joachim Fuhrmann, a spokesman for the German Newspaper Publishers Association, said the Web sites of all German newspapers and magazines together made 100 million euros, or $143 million, in ad revenue,”

Sounds like much, doesn’t it? Now comes the real money though as he goes on to explain:

“while Google generated 1.2 billion euros [sic!] from search advertising in Germany.

‘Google says it brings us traffic, but the problem is that Google earns billions, and we earn nothing,’ Mr. Fuhrmann said.”

A blogger I’ve known from a few years back even got really angry how German publishers “want to ban links”.

He didn’t want to hear the argument that it’s about content not links.

He didn’t think that journalists need to get paid when Google puts ads around their work.

Nowadays most lucrative search results are filled to the brim with Google ads!

Many of the ads are not disclosed properly and referred to as “paid inclusion”.

All the great content you create to make Google your friend is just there to be taken and wrapped by

  • Google Ads
  • shopping search
  • hotel finder

and other Google services they directly earn money with.

Google wants to monetize the world’s information.

You are meant to provide the User Generated Content (UGC) for it.

Google Adsense Case Study for Bloggers

In a more direct way you can theoretically make money by putting Google ads around your content yourself (Adsense).

I tried to on my German cycling blog – guess what happened?

Even though it was very successful at at that time it was mere pocket money despite get a huge amount of visitor attention an distracting people.

So after three months I was finally nearing the pay out threshold of like $100 or something.

Yet shortly before it was due Google suspended my account!

And there was no way to appeal it or even find out why it happened.

I was guilty on suspicion. The judge, jury, and executioner were off limits.

So do you really want to compromise your authority for mere “adcents” as a blogger? Hardly.

Rather get just one paid post per month and you earn many times as much.

Google is Picky

How to please Google? It’s not that easy. Why? Google is picky.

As a blogger you probably have already noticed that Google will only rank a few of your articles at best.

You may have written 100 or 1000 pieces of “great content” but only a bunch will result in significant search traffic.

Just use Google Search Console to look it up. This blog gets most search visitors from just one post!

The other approx. 400 articles which get maintained and updated regularly have negligible traffic.

Most of them will just be there so Google has some User Generated Content to put their advertising on.

On top there are only a few large sites you can’t compete with anyway:

Creating “great content” all day to feed Google and hope some traffic will trickle down to you is naive.

Also most of the traffic Google is leaving for us is not lucrative traffic. “Money keywords” get dominated by your corporate competition usually.

You get to serve free content solely to people who do not want to buy something.

In most cases you end up getting informational queries. Searchers who want to get something from you for free:

  • your free advice
  • your images
  • your free time.

Don’t buy the content marketing hype! It’s just a new way of saying “you need great content” and “content is king” as Google and other billionaires do.

Suicidal Tendencies

Google needs your great content. For you it’s better to keep your great content for yourself.

Do not simply give your great content away if that is not aligned with your business model.

Especially giving your assets for free to Google searchers is often useless. Why?

Most searchers will never again appear on your site or blog. They only want a quick fix. For

  • artists
  • authors
  • bloggers
  • journalists
  • photographers

Google is simply the biggest content thief around.

Google even allows you to save your copyrighted images to collections.

Unlike with Pinterest it’s not just image bookmarking though.

You effectively steal the image for you own private use instead of sharing it.

Sharing from “Google Save” is optional but a bit tedious to do manually.

Make sure to protect yourself from the big Google knowledge grab.

It’s one thing to give away your content for free and another to let someone else earn money on it while you stay hungry.

Giving away all your great content to Google for free is suicide.

You won’t earn a living that way. You have to make money by additional work.

You’re just making the Google billionaires a bit richer.

* Creative Common image by Sherman Geronimo-San