Also if you are going to make a purchase somewhere, any website would try to get a cut of the money you spend by actually sending referral links to the product. So small websites that do not allow this service will not get linked so much.
On a metalevel it is thus that links or connections between items are information. Information is money. And as soon as that became evident links and connections also became more scarce.
That is really sad. Metric folks inventing metrics for the sake of metrics, which dubiously correlates to profitability of the company.
So everyone worried about SEO became afraid to link to anything except:
1) Their own website
2) High reputation sites like NYTimes, etc.
It's sad. Makes it harder to navigate the web.
-- Goodhart's Law.
Google's algorithms didn't create this situation; people chasing high Google rankings did. Had Google used completely different algorithms yet became equally dominant, people still would have poured their hearts and souls into getting higher rankings.
Basically, an application of the tragedy of the commons. Or: "why we can't have nice things".
Then Google came along and we all found it a lot more convenient than the bad search engines we were used to. And of course, we all know where that led. In some sense, Google built an 8-lane superhighway and bypassed all the small towns.
We all traded away paradise in exchange for convenience. Now we have neither.
It's just fragmented - i.e., catering to a specific group. Because if it isn't, it's awesome for 5 minutes and then monetization rot sets in.
 None of these work for everyone; conversely, all of these are seen as great things by some and have people who prefer that one thing over others for its quality.
You're technically right. You'd be more right if you said people chased the highest spots on search engines for the widest breadth of queries.
If there were implicit alphabetical ordering of search results I guarantee you'd end up a bias toward A's, Z's or otherwise in people trying to get top spots.
But lowkey Google incentivized such behaviour by not being open and transparent on how exactly their algorithms work.
It's also dangerous to ask for the exact criteria because they are ever changing. Google et al don't want to be prescriptive about what a good site is, they want to recognize what a good one is. You make a good one, they'll figure out how to recognize it.
They can't sit down and publish "The Definitive Guide to a Good Website". That's just not their role and it will be out of date before it's published.
The incentives to game the algo remain. People adapt to the environment.
I'm pretty sure google could do strictly better (i.e.: better in all reasonable accounts) than they do now if they focused on the users' experience instead of revenue for a couple terms.
Perhaps it could work if the algorithm changed its algorithm all the time.
People's best chance is stopping using Google and pushing for it to be broken-up.
Knowing the actual rules might give them a fighting chance, since the bad guys already know these rules anyway.
Some would even say it killed the web by centralizing all the content in the hands of a few .
Which is the direct consequence of everybody optimizing to better show up on Google/Facebook/Amazon/Microsoft and ultimately even migrating all their hosting to these companies.
I'm somewhat skeptical, it seems a little too poetic to blame Google's ultimate downfall on a decision that was notably hated at the time. But it's plausible. If you want it to be a conspiracy theory, you can posit that killing off independent blogs was the intent, to convince bloggers to migrate to Google Plus.
Younger people TikTok, they Instagram, they chat in private conversations with eachother, they occasionally post short messages in walled gardens like Facebook, they YouTube, they listen to music, they watch Netflix & Co. That's what they do. They do not persistently write LiveJournals, Tumblrs, blogs. That pre video/audio-focused era is over and it's not coming back (even if there's occasionally a bubbling up of hipster fakery centered around how cool it is to write text).
Fewer unique blog domains due to “blogging” sites that aggregate users? Sounds plausible. Fewer people blogging overall? I’m not convinced yet.
Ten years ago, the majority(!) had at least something up and running, where they would post essays, thoughts, whatever came to mind.
Nowadays? All gone. All! When asked why, the answer almost always is along a mix of ever-increasing negative feedback and harassment from randos, and aggressive automated spamming of their forums. Loss of the pseudo-anonymity plays a large role as well. Many have deleted years' worth of work, simply because they are afraid of someone trolling through their posts to find something to harass them with.
I was never a blogger myself, but I am sad about the change. There was a lot of good stuff out there for a while, and sometimes it just plain made me happy to read someone joyfully nerding out on a favorite subject of theirs.
Not to zero. You can still find things tucked away in a post on reddit or the like. Almost never, as far as I have experienced, on Facebook or its ilk, as the affordances are different. I genuinely think there has been a loss.
Nope. Putting anything out there is basically just doing the rest of the world's Open Source Intel for them. Maybe it isn't the Net that changed. It's just there's way more sharks out there that can't just leave well enough alone.
Most of these many more people are mobile users, where creating long-style text content can be quite bothersome.
What ain't bothersome, with a smartphone, is taking pictures and videos to slap filters over them, alas that's why we are where we are with TicToc, Instagram and Twitter dominating large parts of the web.
It's even noticeable in a lot of online discussions with text outside of these communities; The average length of forum posts feels like it's gotten way shorter over the decades. People have less attention to read anything that looks longer than a few sentences, often declaring it a "wall of text" based on quantity of text alone.
Imho it's a big part of what drives misinformation; Doing any kind of online research on a small phone screen is extremely bothersome compared to the workspace an actual computer/laptop, particularly with multi-monitor, gives.
There's also the difference in attention; When I sit down at my laptop/desktop, I actively decide to spend and focus my attention on that task and device.
While smartphone usage is mostly dominated by short bursts of "can't do anything else right now", I don't chose to take out my phone and surf the web, it's something I do when I'm stuck in some place with nothing else to do and no access to an actual computer.
But for the majority of web-users , that smartphone access to the web is all they know, which then ends up heavily shaping the ways they consume and contribute to it.
For my part, I'm glad these fora aren't indexed well; I don't want my search results dominated by single-sentence posts and photos. In particular, I don't have accounts on any of these services.
I'd be happy if search engines would decline to index sites behind paywalls. Links to Medium, Substack and Washpo are very common, and if the first thing I see is a popup demand for payment, that browser-tab gets closed.
Don’t know how hard it would be to know which is which. Maybe non-commercial : don’t run ads, don’t sell a product or service and provide information only.
The algorithm made linking valueable. So instead of writing hypertext people tried to create isolated sites and boost their rank. Remember rel="nofollow"?
Eventually bigger sites took over the small ones.