Google Health a Healthy Idea?
LeeAnn Prescott of Hitwise asks how good of an idea is it of Google to launch a Health Channel when their current vertical searches and Finance channel are lagging behind the competition. Prescott publishes a chart with the ranking of each Google vertical in their related markets and notes that with all its bells and whistles Google Finance ranked at number 43 in the Business Information category; “This shows how much time it can take to change consumer behavior, unless the product is highly differentiated from competitors, as in the case of Google Maps when it launched satellite views, immediately sending it to number 3 in the Maps category.”
Google Finance has only been in existence for less than two months and does offer a bit of differentiation in its Ajax functionality and Google News & Blog integration. Personally I view Google Finance as being more of an extension of the Google News offering and not the Financial hub some may expect it to be. As for becoming more popular as a Financial destination, give it time; as Google registered users and Google Homepage users grow, so will the use of the Google Finance mini-portal.
Given Google’s popularity as a referral to various Health related sites (in the same fashion that Google has been doing with financial oriented searches for the past 8 years), Google Health may become more popular in a shorter amount of time. Especially since health information is more long term and content based than financial info, which is more instant and opinionated. Not to mention that Finance & Health are two very large earners when it comes to keyword and contextually targeted search.
Prescott concurs on the Hitwise Blog:
Hitwise clickstream data shows that for the month of April 2006, 2.67% of Google’s downstream traffic went to sites in the Health & Medical category.
Yahoo! Search sent 2.43% of its traffic to this category, while MSN Search sent 1.97%, which shows that Health is a smart vertical initiative for Google.
Following is a list of the top Health & Medical sites visited after Google in April 2006. We see that the US National Library of Medicine and WebMD are the leading sites receiving traffic from Google, which may provide clues as to where Google will get its content from. It’s interesting to note that Yahoo! Health is the fourth most popular Health & Medical website receiving visits from Yahoo! Search, and MSN Health ranks number 5 in MSN Search’s Health & Medical downstream, which shows that having a vertical content site does not guarantee that it will lead in receiving search traffic.
Hopefully we’ll see the launch of Google Health within the next 24 hours – as for its popularity in the vertical health market; it may be just what the doctor prescribes for Google.