More than likely not, but there is no time like the present to look at the possible issues around this question.
There have been numerous discussions recently about the UK serps (search engine results pages) showing too many non-UK sites above established UK content. Is it a bug in the algorithm, some sort of global testing to open commercial doors for non-UK companies or is it just SNAFU?! We’ll discuss this issue next post.
On top of that, comes a re-opening of the discussions which started in 2006-7 when many in the internet marketing world were amongst the early adopters who started to use social media for personal engagement first, and then for marketing. With that use came the realisation that here was huge potential for less searches to be made on search engines because answers could be found more quickly from your peers and community.
The threat to Google et al search revenues was quite clear, as well as to SEO companies who needed to develop social media marketing strategies quickly, and the effects have become more apparent as Twitter, Facebook, community media tools and social networking have taken off.
However, the last few weeks have seen an escalation of the Google backlash, negative PR, and questionning which has been ongoing for some time because of the ubergoogle factor, but it is wider than that – it is beginning to affect the perception of the whole industry. This article seems to be the most telling of many recommending that the time has come to regulate the search landscape.
Bearing in mind the phenomenal growth of tools such as Twitter, and the fact that for many it is now far faster to find an answer to a simple problem, to conduct research, to run a survey, to go viral and so on through tools such as Twitter than through standard internet marketing and seo, it was inevitable that the search engines would start to lose favour for certain ‘real-time’ needs.
As the threats of social media have become apparent to the Googles of this world, it would seem that efforts have been made to either eliminate the threat from the likes of social bookmarking tools and blogs (as in the great October 2007 Pagerank loss for major blogs), incorporate social media tools within Google’s own apps (eg the new features in Google Reader) or to remove certain results from the algorithm entirely, whether that is manually or automatically.
The blogosphere and Twitter are both full of many, many theories, commentaries and opinions on just what is going on and what should be done about it.
If Google finds its revenues under threat – we know Google has been slow to adapt to the fast-paced development of social media – then those in the internet marketing industry need to be aware of the potential changes that Google may make to resist that ‘attack’. And hence how others will see the impact those changes have when such a massive proportion of the search engine acreage is owned by a single company, and the efforts that are then proposed to regulate that control of search habits and results.
There may be difficult times ahead for those who have put all their eggs in the Google basket.
Now really is the time to look out of the box. If the dominance that Google (once everyone’s darling and the word on everyone’s lips meaning “to search the web”) has coveted for so long is seen as a threat to world trade (particularly in times of global recession), or to the independence and freedom web surfers should enjoy, and hence efforts are made to reduce that dominance, the impact to all in the SEO, SEM and IM trade could be awesome. And not in a good way for those who have been slow to see this cloud on the horizon.
Whether you are reliant on gmail for your email, google apps and docs for all your in-house documents (a problem Twitter has recently faced when hacked) or your core business relies on serps, you should start researching and considering the potential for you.