Google is king. Despite the efforts of other search engines (we’re looking at you, Bing) to sway customers to their side, Google remains the most used search engine. It uses a secret algorithm to determine “relevance”, and where a company appears in Google search engine results has serious implications for a business’s future.
In barely over a decade, Google has risen to become a colossal global brand. In an article by James Gleick from the New York Review of Books, Gleick writes that Google is now bigger than Coca-Cola and General Electric, and created more wealth faster than any company in history. By 2004, Google was just five years old, worth $25 billion, and involved in 85% of internet searches.
Google’s algorithm is constantly being updated, which means that websites’ rankings change often. At first, it may not seem like a big deal to be on the second page of search results compared to the first page. However, consider the implications for a small business, where a change in ranking can negatively impact their business generated by Google. Google’s size and power can crush a small business just from removing it from its search engine. Often it is not by the choice of a person, and is done by a computer algorithm.
Google’s power means that no one can argue when Google splashes its paid sponsored websites at the top of the search results page. Google’s many online services, from translation tools to Gmail, are incredibly popular.
In an article in the New York Times, Steve Lohr and Claire Cain Miller write about a company that has had to significantly increase its spending on Google’s paid search advertising when a change in the algorithm decreased the amount of free traffic to his website. Since much of the company’s customer traffic is generated from Google searches, the company had to pay Google more. “We had to do it,” the business owner said, “We’re living in Google’s world.”
Google is also sitting on an incredible amount of data that has social and economic implications. People reveal their hopes and secrets to Google. Google takes advantage of this interest in the data by providing services like Google Adwords and Google Trends.
Google has a monopoly in the search engine world and with the growth of their commercial sectors can have a heavy impact on businesses that get “weeded out” from Google’s search list. Paid advertisements are the most visible. The prime positioning of paid advertisements limits the egalitarian premise of Google’s “relevance” algorithm. Google is a helpful tool for the public and a challenge for businesses thriving on website traffic.
John Bradley Jackson
Entrepreneur, Professor, Author
Deja New Marketing
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