Here's what happened in May 2023 to the visibility of five travel blogs after a Google search system update, as posted by Lily Ray on Twitter:

Visibility index for five travel blogs on Google search

In 2022 Google sold link clicks for $54.4 billion. When you click a sponsored link, Google makes money. When you click an organic link, a search result from a blog, Google does not make any money. No surprise, sponsored links are presented at the top of the page.

  • Google Search attracts users by providing relevant high-quality search results. Reviews, travel tips, personal finance, communities, news. Content Quality is the number one Ranking Factor for content creators.
  • These 'quality search results' are produced by humans. Humans who make money from visitors on their site: affiliate, subscriptions, selling products, sponsorships, and ads - on their site.
  • To generate more revenue Google Search is making users spend more time on the SERP, Search Engine Result Page, to increase the likelihood of a paid link click.
  • By presenting AI-summarized 'Quality Content' they keep visitors on the SERP and remove the incentive to click through to the site.
  • Google makes $54.4 billion. Content creators, nothing.
    Google is competing directly with creators.

As Jed White tweeted, Google is not a search company, it's an ad tech company.

Real world cases

Here's how this plays out...

I google "things to do in Denver" and get a great summary and image - this sounds fun! I write down 'Visit botanical garden' on my list on what to do when I'm visiting Denver.

I stay on Google's search result page (the 'SERP') which kills any potential revenue for the creator. Google does not compensate creators for their work.

Nate Hake writes..

It sure feels like it's the intention of Google to reduce click outs to creators. It seems like the company can't grow market share anymore, so it's turned to squeezing everything it can out of SERPs by keeping searchers on Google.

What to do as a content creator?

Google could share revenue with creators. With a 95% market share they have little to no incentive to do that. As a creator, you have to find other strategies...

Brand your images!

Use automated services like Placid or Bannerbear to brand your images. The World Travel Guy images are showing up without attribution. It's his wife in the photo.


With Placid, social media images are created instantly when publishing. Images in Search results promote your site, strengthens your brand, and drive traffic.

Paywall your content

Put some of your content behind paywalls for registered or paying subscribers. Allow some of your content to be indexed and served by Google, lock down unique and valuable content. Experiment with 'leaky paywalls' offering a number of free articles and other strategies.

Build a mailing list

Have visitors sign up for your own e-mail list. Ghost does this really well, integrating blog posts, subscriptions, paywall and mailing list.

Become a brand - use all available channels

Don't rely on Google Search as your only traffic source - use subscriber e-mail lists, share reciprocal links with other sites, and share content on social media channels. Do not build your community or base you revenue model on a single platform that you do not control, Ryan Frahm tweeted...

There are other options...

Here's Perplexity AI search for Things to do in Denver - with the sources for the result listed and clickable. The summary creates an incentive to click through; some things in the summary catches my eye - I click through for more details. Perplexity AI has a subscription model, they do not make money from link clicks.

Cover image by Pascal Claivaz