Gmail, docs, and a variety of free Google services could soon cost consumers, agencies and marketers a small fee, say some search engine experts. The chatter comes after the company last week said it would charge for product listings in Google Shopping.
It also acknowledged the submission of dozens of applications of top level domain names (TLD) for .google, .docs, .youtube and others to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Industry executives are concerned that the change will come.
If Google gains access to the TLDs, aimClear founder Marty Weintraub believes it will allow the company to prioritize them in certain search engine results pages (SERPs). "For instance, the TLD .YouTube may well have greater weight in YouTube, or even Google's organic SERPs," he said.
Weintraub said it's important to consider how .droid may play in mobile.
While many believe mobile could become Google's cash cow, the company will look for other viable revenue streams. Reliable-SEO cofounder Terry Van Horne believes the company will begin changing for other free services to maintain a prior revenue growth rate. "Give people free so they become dependent, and then turn around and charge them," he said.
Van Horne said that could mean also monetizing services Google uses internally, such as Whois and Free DNS servers,which would affect thousands of businesses. Controlling TLDs means the company can also sell them, along with domain names -- and other registrars could too. For instance, Van Horne said, GoDaddy sells TLDs.
Could Google have a greater impact on search engine optimization by owning the TLDs .google or .youtube or .lol? According to Doc Sheldon, founder of search agency Top Shelf Copy, it probably could. However, more TLDs could open up the potential for abuse, Sheldon said, adding that, it will depend upon how Google looks at them in their algorithms.
"Events over the last several months point to a major overhaul of the way they're evaluating pages and sites from the standpoint of potential abuse. One would hope the impact wouldn't be great," Sheldon said.