NYTimes: Niche Blogs Are In

It's official, the impending fall of Yahoo.com, heralds the golden age of niche blogs and websites.
"AOL’s acquisition of TechCrunch last year for a reported $30 million was an acknowledgement that scale, once the grail of the Web, can be a disadvantage when it comes to attracting the kind of audiences advertisers want." (NYTimes)
Indeed, though these large sites still command a hefty readership, much of that traffic may not be converting because of the divergence of interests. People who go to any of the major news portals such as CNN.com, Wall Street Journal and NYTimes, most likely go there not to find information about a particular product or to focus on a particular interest - but to consume news.

Here's more:
"Like newspapers, portals like AOL and Yahoo are confronting the cold fact that there is less general interest in general interest news. Readers have peeled off into verticals of information — TMZ for gossip, Politico for politics and Deadspin for sports, and so on."
Of course, another possibility that may exist is the unbounded flow of information that independent sites provide. The blogs mentioned in the New York Times article have all mostly been co-opted or assimilated by bigger media companies.

Big Media Using Small Blogger's Tactics?
Danny on Google+

Indeed, there has been several instances when larger websites were caught red-handed by the Big G using small time SEO tactics to compete. Among the bigger names involved is Forbes.com.

Based on my own observations, some of the more respected sites are also leveraging their traffic to monetize  some portions of that precious white space.

This is a screenshot from a very prominent International news website:

Grey Area

I'm not so sure if this is in violation of Google's linking policies which generally frowns on paid linking. To quote: 
"However, some SEOs and webmasters engage in the practice of buying and selling links that pass PageRank, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results." 
I tried looking at the source code of the site in question but didn't find any links to the materials on the widget. Maybe some of you SEO guys can explain this better.

Photo Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1115855