Is Google Really Ready to Take on Yahoo and MSN?
05/19/04Browse the headlines of any online or printed news source and you would be hard
pressed not to hear about Google's upcoming IPO. If you were to go home tonight
and turn on the TV to watch your favorite sitcom, there is now a chance you might
hear something about Google. When morning comes around and you check your email
- I would nearly guarantee that you will hear something about Google's efforts
to acquire another company, develop another type of service or respond to a recent
"issue" in their search engine. The simple fact is, Google is everywhere.
While many would willingly admit that Google has impressed the critics, I cannot
help but think that the tables may soon turn on Google's great PR machine. Google
has often set the precedent for online marketing, but it has had to fight off
what seems like a large amount of criticism from upset webmasters and business
Just imagine how much more criticism will exist when Google becomes publicly
Running a search engine optimization firm, I have always had to walk the fine
line while talking with clients about Google. Explaining the effects of the
Florida Update in a way that makes sense to a small business owner is difficult.
Then again, it is a lot easier than being the person who tells a business manager
that his new $80,000 content managing software effectively removes his site
from Google's search indexes.
For countless reasons, SEM insiders can love or hate Google. But take a step
back and imagine just how small the SEM community is. While SEM and SEO professionals
would love to think that search-based marketing is a leading component to successful
marketing campaigns, the budget and focus from consumers of our services simply
do not exist.
When Fortune 500's are spending more than 10% of their marketing budgets on
search based marketing, the landscape will change. But in today's markets, SEM
barely touches the radar. Recent news coming from Yahoo indicates that spending
on online advertising accounts for just three percent of all advertising costs.
the press surrounding Google is enormous
And they have controlled
the market for so long. They cannot be stopped at this point, right? Wrong.
While the most I can do is predict what could happen, I cannot help but think
that the months following Google's IPO will ultimately decide its fate in our
I see our marketplace as being dominated by three players at this point in
time. Whether we like it or not, MSN, Yahoo and Google dictate how our efforts
are focused. While many would like to think that Google is in the ultimate position
of power, I tend to think otherwise.
MSN is a property of Microsoft. Since 1986, Microsoft has set the standard
for publicly held companies turning profit and growing business. While MSN's
entry into the search engine industry has taken time, how could you think that
the step to move there is an uncalculated one on the part of Microsoft? I certainly
would not, and with that in mind - I can only begin to think that MSN's search
developments will create a significant buzz in our lives.
Even if the quality is not there, the money and ambitions backing MSN's search
developments will not let failure become an option for a very long time.
Moving on to the next player in this game - we can turn our attention to Yahoo.
When Google was learning how to become a search engine, Yahoo was learning how
to become a portal. Normally, you would preface the term "portal"
by giving it some descriptive clarification
A news portal
A shopping portal
An email portal. But that is not that case
with Yahoo because Yahoo is all of those things and so many more. And each day
we check the latest SEM news, all indications are that Google is making an effort
to become more like Yahoo.
Good for Google.
I see Yahoo as being the largest player in this game, and certainly the most
powerful. Yahoo has been publicly traded since 1996, and with 8 years of experience
dealing with massive amounts of pressure from analysts, stock holders and the
consuming public - Yahoo knows how to control PR forces.
And, while I cannot deny that Google has an enormous PR machine working right
now to develop an advantage - I cannot allow myself to be naïve enough
to think that Yahoo and MSN are just sitting back and waiting for Google to
set the pace. Yahoo's Chief Executive Terry Semel was recently quoted as saying
"We're quiet; we don't say a lot as a rule. But all we want to do is to
win." That is the type of attitude that has always scared me in business
And this is also the kind of approach that Google cannot react to.
Looking at the many flops coming from Google in recent months, I think that
Google just cannot find the right spin on things.
I want to hear from you though, the readers of this editorial piece. Where
do you see the organic search markets moving to in the next year or so? How
will the Google IPO impact your life personally? Please
let me know!
Together, we can help to shed some more light on this developing situation
and at the very least, make some sense out of all the possibilities.
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