Before I started writing about Google, Bing, Yahoo, and all the rest, I didn’t even know about the existence of half their services. This wasn’t to say I was some flunky who didn’t keep up; actually, I taught webinars, training courses, and wrote documentation on SEO as it regarded the various ins and outs of the search engine world. What my former ignorance does say is that the search engines have a lot of extras, and most of them fly under the radar.
This is certainly the case with Google, as a recent Google Watch piece mentions. Many of Google’s key product lines see major enhancements without anyone batting an eye. In fact, the only location where Google changes are really noticed by the general population is the core search page, where alterations like Google Instant are quickly noted. Even there, though, behind-the-scenes updates like Caffeine are often overlooked.
Google has the opportunity to cross-promote itself, adding “try out our [awesome service]” advertisements in its various properties. That’s what they did with Chrome, and it certainly worked out well for the early growth of that browser. However, Google also tried this with services like Google Buzz and saw much lower levels of success.
So, how should Google market itself when it comes to niche markets like Hotpot and Latitude which make up such a large portion of the company’s current social and local efforts? One of the methods the company is trying is local advertisements, such as the major push in Portland for Hotpot which we saw in December. It certainly got the attention of the residents of the city, but those living outside of Oregon didn’t take much note.
So, how should Google promote its new features? Through the blogs that so few “standard users” check? Through invasive broadcasts? Through subtle messages on other sites? Through local advertisement? Or through some combination of the above?