You may be wondering why your website no longer appears on page 1 of Google search results. The answer is complicated. Some of this depends on the content of your site (something you can control). But a lot of it is due to changes in the way Google does business (something you cannot control). An article by Rolfe Winkler in the Tuesday, August 19, 2014 edition of The Wall Street Journal, page B1, outlines the differences between Google's goals before it went public in 2004 and Google's goals in 2014. Following are some highlights from the article.
In 2004, Google co-founder Larry Page said he wanted to get the search engine's users "out of Google and to the right place as fast as possible." Google was primarily a Web index. Example: A search for a hotel provided 10 text links to online travel agencies and hotel operators.
Today Google often is providing as much information as possible to keep users inside Google's virtual universe. Google is more an Internet destination, offering content and commerce within an expanding array of Google services. Example: A search for a hotel provides reviews, photos, and an offer to book a room.
This change in Google's model is presenting challenges to millions of businesses who depend on Google's search results to survive. Advertisers pay billions of dollars for clicks that deliver potential customers to their websites. By offering its own listings, Google may alienate its advertisers and others who depend on unbiased results from Google. Google also promotes some businesses (such as the Uber ride service) while ignoring others (such as Lyft, Inc. or Sidecar, which are Uber competitors).
During searches for products or services, Google often features its own reviews, even if other sites such as Yelp or TripAdvisor provide more detail.
Additionally, Google search results often provide "the answer to a user's question" whereas they previously provided links to a website where users could find that answer. So today's users don't always have to visit any website except Google's in order to find what they need.
Finally, all this Google-centric content takes up valuable screen real estate -- especially on tablets and phones -- pushing organic results to lower-ranking positions on the first page or to second and subsequent pages where users are less likely to explore them.
Read full article (requires subscription): http://online.wsj.com/articles/googles-richer-content-worries-some-advertisers-1408391392