The web is shrinking, says Ben Elowitz. Strip out the growth of Facebook and the rest of the web, the "searchable web", shrank by 9% in the 12 months to March 2011.
This is game-changing for publishers, possibly the emergence of a whole new strategy cycle. If all you're doing is optimising pages of content for Google, well...
(1) you're part of a zero-sum game in which every publisher in your category uses the same publicly-available data to chase the same audience as they search on the same keywords;
(2) the stuff you write for Google isn't all that appealing to people so you'll get them through the door and watch them bounce out after they've seen one page; and
(3) that pie you're fighting for a share of is shrinking anyway (hee hee, mixed metaphors are funny).
What does optimising for the social web look like? It looks like creating social objects. It looks like talking to your customers. It looks like - put as simply as possible - actually creating cool stuff that people want to talk about, being nice people to do business with, and not being evil.
We've just gone through a publishing strategy cycle where the big win was making Google like us. That was comparatively easy. Now we're into one where we have to make people - our customers, our partners, our advocates - like us. That might be a lot harder.
(Picture is iof course from GapingVoid)