My search marketing career started in 2003, back when the keyword meta tag rained superior and search engine submissions still counted for something. Back in 2003 if someone asked me if Google would be around in two years I would have laughed. Fast forward to today, and the same question is asked, I’d pause and think about it. Will Google be around in two years? Will people still search for content through an engine that sorts through the indexed web?
Roger McNamee gives a compelling Ted talk named Six ways to save the internet. In this talk Roger tells the theory that index search is on the decline. He makes the statement that because the internet is full of garbage, searchers are searching for content on third party websites. The image below is a screen shot from the trend of people using index search compare to other types of sites (Wikipedia, Twitter, etc). I highly recommend taking 20 minutes and watching the video. It shows that as to today the amount of people searching through an engine that indexes the web is equal to the amount of search volume on third party (other) websites.
Roger mentions that due to the decline of index search Google will lose revenue, but they will make up the loss in other areas. The direct effect of this is that Google is losing the “biggest player on the internet” status; this is something that they will not be able to regain control of.
“Is this happening?”, “What other ways will Google try to make money?” I asked myself. After thinking about it I came to the conclusion that it is happening right now! Google is expanding outside of index search and ad serving to make up for the loss generated from this trend. They are doing this because they are losing market share in the search world.
The two big changes that jump out at me, and I’d like to know what you think here, is the $1 per call charge for using tracking numbers in the new pay per call adwords feature. The second is Googles move to encrypted data in Google Analytics, yes I think that they will end up selling it.
Roger McNamee makes several strong points that outline the shift in how people search:
1) Index search is like a word processor, it was once the best thing in the world, now it’s just another thing we do
2) Google provided leadership and commoditized content in the beginning of the game
3) People have chosen non-commoditized content in overwhelming amounts
4) Because things are going mobile, people find their content through apps
Is Google going down? Are people finding content in other ways? Did the social and mobile movements change the game for SEO’s? Yes!
Top search engine rankings are critical for the success of a modern business. There is no doubt in my mind that this will hold true for years to come. However, I do argue that as marketers we must identify the trends, and adapt to them. The social and mobile movement changed the way people find content. In some cases, people are not searching for content that they want, the content is finding them. How do you optimize against this?