Anyone who works in a web-related field knows this is truth – any given day can be completely ruined by an announcement from Google about an update or policy change. After reading Melissa Mackey’s post this morning “Google Has Become Yahoo” (great read!) I got to thinking about just how massive of a force Google is in all of our lives.
Like most things that have become this ubiquitous, it was not an overnight process. It started off slowly and friendly enough – Google became the go to search engine for quality results. The word Google has even become a verb, which is a true testament to its integration into our daily lives. From there, the other products were rolled out and we were happy to have them – Gmail, Chrome, AdWords, Google Analytics, Google+ (well maybe…) but you get the idea. Over the past 10 years Google has become inextricably entwined in our lives, both personal and business.
But now, Google has such tremendous market share, it is not unreasonable to ask if there are any checks on its power? It sure doesn’t seem like it. Some examples:
- The Enhanced Campaigns brouhaha in the PPC world earlier this year
- The decision to stop providing many of the organic search terms in Analytics (which is not completely alleviated by their announcement about the new Paid & Organic report in AdWords via SearchEngine Land)
- The somewhat forced adoption of Google+ for SEO purposes
- Appearance of Knowledge Graph & Google Answers in search results
- Pushing separate mobiles sites hard and then completely reversing that position to prefer responsively designed sites
- Their complete remaking of search results that make assumptions about your intentions (logged in status, your location, etc.)
- The difficulty in correcting errors in Places/Maps/Local Listings or whatever they are called this week…
Truth is, we have no control over what they decide to do or not do. And yet, Google has become a place where you MUST be visible in order to have potential customers find you. Whether they are searching for you specifically or more generically for what you do, to not have a presence in Google is a sure path to obscurity.
It is easy enough to say we should collectively start using Bing or Yahoo to reduce the quasi-monopoly of Google in search. But does that really solve the underlying issue – whichever company is dominating will be in this same position. If you don’t like their policies, too bad. You’re theoretically free to not participate.
It is pretty crazy to think that entire industries exist today, largely because of Google and to a lesser extent other search engines. As this platform continues to mature, it not surprisingly, starts to resemble “old” media companies. They make the rules, they set the prices and you can either play along or go pound sand.
Can Google’s run continue indefinitely? Only time will tell. We will certainly be paying very close attention!