Commentary

The Ultimate Google Killer

A while back, fellow Search Insider Aaron Goldman wrote a series on  Google killers. The series concluded that the most viable Google killer would be Google itself. Since the question comes up far too often, I feel it is necessary to once again revisit it. Will Google kill Google?  

A year and a half ago, I co-wrote a piece about  Google's expanded broad match with my longtime colleague, Dorothy Weaver. Since that time, expanded broad match has continually irritated sophisticated search marketers. Imagine running a landing page test on a specific keyword, like "office furniture," only to later learn that additional queries like "wooden bookcases" and "metal file cabinet" were also triggering the ad. This frustrated me at first, but I quickly learned to combat it with frequent search query report audits and by stripping the search query from the referrer; however, I now wonder if expanded broad match could have more serious revenue implications for Google.

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Most advertisers actually have higher conversion rates on Yahoo and Microsoft, but continue to spend more with Google. Makes sense, since Google is the leader in terms of market share. With all the time that has passed since the introduction of expanded broad match, it is apparent that these broadened results have not broken or even affected the Google habit.Au contraire, mon frère. Google's market share has actually continued to grow. So what could do it?

Over the years, I have enjoyed being the go-to person at my company for everything Google. This has led to the collection of some interesting Google errors that colleagues pass along believing that I hold the answer. My personal favorite was an error for "impatience " a team member received in July of 2006: Give your mouse a break. It looks like you may have clicked the same link twice. Relax for a moment, give us a chance to respond to your first request, and then click your browser back button and try again. Thanks for your patience. - a Google engineer

Most recently, our office was plagued with a "We're sorry" error on several search queries. The error claimed that our query looked similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application. Our SEO team had not been doing any automated crawls that may have triggered this and the queries we were receiving it on were original searches, not necessarily the keywords we check every day. Of course we know this measure is to protect advertisers from fraud, but if these types of errors ever became widespread, I do believe a frustrated user would eventually go elsewhere...even if only for a brief time.

So, can the habit be broken? Will there ever be a Google killer? Honestly, I do not think so, nor do I hope so. What I do look forward to is competition versus domination. I'll leave you with this food for thought: When searching the phrase "break a habit" on Google, Yahoo and MSN, I found the best answer atop the results of MSN. The organic listing from eHow.com stated, "Habits are automatic behaviors that can be changed with patience and persistence."

3 comments about "The Ultimate Google Killer ".
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  1. Aaron Goldman from 4C, December 26, 2008 at 1:14 p.m.

    Good stuff Janel. As per #6 in my <a href="http://www.findresolution.com/2008/12/2009-predictions-search-marketing.html">'09 predictions</a>, I actually think the Google killer will be a privacy slip-up. All the trust Google has built up over the years will be eroded in one fell swoop.

  2. Frank Watson from Kangamurra Media, December 27, 2008 at 6:05 p.m.

    Good post Janel.... though I see a move to social media or some variation of search that is social - so unless OpenSocial takes hold Google could see drop offs.

  3. John Diamond from NuValu, December 28, 2008 at 10:24 p.m.

    What will kill Google is when there is no longer a need to search "price" for goods, services and providers. That day may be here as a result of leapfrog technologies that are well on their way. BTW, these services will be FREE to the product manufacturers and the retailers. There is a HUGE sea-change coming... and fast! Google is in the rearview mirror.

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