At Pubcon today, Matt Cutts was the keynote speaker, and the session was live-streamed at ustream.tv/channel/pubcon
I wish the session had been recorded for later viewing, because there were two very brief parts that I'd love to pull out and share. But alas, we'll have to rely on my paraphrasing because I can't recall the exact words he used. As far as I could tell, no one even noticed those few words that came out of Matt's mouth, but in my opinion, they were the most significant words in the entire hour. You can see a text recap at http://searchenginel...t-pubcon-174906 but it too failed to mention this part.
While Matt was discussing the "moonshot" changes that are taking place, such as the Knowledge Graph, Voice Search, Conversational Search, etc. he said something to this effect (totally paraphrased by me, so don't quote me verbatim):
All along, Google has attempted to organize the world's information, and nothing in that statement mentions the phrase "search engine". Users want answers, and that's what we're attempting to give them.
Later, in the Q&A portion at the very end of the session, Matt again referred to this when discussing how Google seems to be using up all the space in the SERPs with ads, toolbars, etc, so there's little room left for organic results. Another paraphrase:
Users want quick answers, and don't necessarily want to be sent off to a site to answer it. Your job is to provide content of real value that does more than just give a 3-word answer to a question so that users will want to visit your site.
I quickly tweeted about that, saying,
Butt matt, if you give the answers, the users will never see our value.
HA! Just noticed my tweet's typo there. Bahahaha! Anyway...I digress...
My point, of course, is that as Google gives more and more "answers" in the SERPs, there's little to no incentive for users to ever leave Google, or ever have the chance to see the valuable content we have.
People say, well, it's Google's site, so they can do what they want.
That's not always the case, however.
The "answers" that Google gives is not their content. It is OUR content.
We've always had an implied "contract" with Google.
We'll let you crawl our sites, Google, if you'll send traffic back to us.
The "contract" isn't this: We'll let you steal and use our sites' content, Google, without anything in return (traffic).
Google - via Matt's brief, nearly unnoticed words today, is letting us know...we are going to keep stealing your content, because we love our users, and we don't care what you think about that.