We are all Google

Ian Lurie

Anyone who publishes anything on the web is part of Google. Well, anyone who lets Google crawl their content, anyway. Which is just about everyone.

I told ya so

Lots of bloggers are saying that Google’s a publisher. To which I can only say, “Well, DUH!” I’ve been writing about Google-as-aggregator for a few years now.

Since Adwords became their cash cow, Google’s been a publisher. They build up impressions and clicks. They sell those impressions and clicks. They need more impressions because those impressions become clicks. So they do more and more to aggregate content and keep you on Google for an optimal amount of time.

I don’t know what that optimal time period is, but somewhere in the twisted tunnels of the Googleplex, someone’s doing the math: For every popular search, they know the number of pageviews the average Google visitor has to make before they’ll click one of those lovely Adwords ads, thereby depositing money in Google’s bulging bank accounts.

Until you hit that number of pageviews, Google’s going to cling to you like an octopus clings to its favorite rock. Er. Or something.

We are all Google

To make this happen, Google pulls more and more of our content onto their pages, with page previews (Bing’s idea, originally), local search, and fun stuff like their new credit card search tool:


Google's credit card comparison

Search for ‘Berlin flights’ and you’ll see another example:

berlin flights

When you publish content on the web, you’re providing content for the world’s biggest publication: Google.

A lost opportunity

I don’t blame Google. They provide an invaluable service by letting folks find more stuff more quickly. I watched my son do a middle-school research essay on Bolivia last night: In a few minutes, he learned their history, political figures and critical current events.

But this is all a lost opportunity for us. Even with Google’s aggregation, the search engine drives a lot of business for us all. If there were a decent competitor to Google, we’d all be part of two Googles.

Two major search players would have to compete more for users. And users might sometimes prefer to leave the search engine sooner, rather than later. That would mean more traffic driven to our web sites, and more opportunities.

For now, though, I want to point out that I for one have always welcomed our Google overlords. Please don’t eat me.

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at www.ianlurie.com

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  1. So what are you saying Ian? That we should all roll over and take it? A lot of industry types seem to have a hate-on for Google (and any other service that collects information, like Facebook, etc.). Sure, their primary motive behind everything is to make money, mainly through advertising, but beyond that… they provide services people WANT.
    As for them ‘using’ personal information, I’m pretty sure they don’t care how old your cat is, or what you had for dinner last night. But… if it makes for a more targeted ad, then their algorithms will note it. I personally don’t mind, especially because I have never given Google a penny in my life yet can’t imagine my life without them.

  2. I don’t blame them either, but it’s easy to hate on the big G when they eat up organic traffic up overnight without explanation, launch tools that compete directly with their advertisers, and then promote them (with content scraped from other sites) by plastering their own ads all over the SERPs.
    Do I sound bitter? Maybe a little, but I still love Google. They’re kind of like my old family dog. I couldn’t imagine life without her, but every now and then she would shit on my foot and really tick me off.

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