With all of the changes and announcements from Google recently it appears they are heading in a completely different direction than their core business, search. Since Google began, it has always been about providing the best results to the users via their SERPs. They tried to give the user the choice of 10 organic (give or take) results based on a complex algorithm of hundreds of signals. They even wanted webmasters to get involved by making content more ‘readable’ to Google, which I guess is why the SEO industry was born.
Recently though Google seem to be steering away from this and thinking ‘Google knows best’. They now seem to be heading towards providing users choices based not on their normal SERPs, but choices via their own Google products. This is a very worrying direction since once they create a product and effectively force users to use this by prominently positioning it in the SERPs then this flushes all competition down the drain.
Lets take a look at a few of the recent developments from Google.
Google Advisor which is a financial comparison tool comparing mortgages, credit cards and savings accounts.
This seems like a direct attack on the financial services industry and more importantly the rise of the recent price comparison monster websites. Should Google really be providing the same service as price comparison websites here? I don’t believe so as this is no longer about providing the ‘right’ results to the user, it is about pricing the competitors out of the market. Since Google doesn’t (at the moment) take any commissions on these products being offered, this could push out the price comparison websites who do take a commission – especially if Google begin to prioritise their own products in the SERPs.
Google Flight Comparison
Google Flight Comparison in the SERPs is Google’s latest brainwave which shows flight comparison information to ‘make it easier for users to understand’.
Seems like a good idea at first, and I know first hand that flight websites are some of the most confusing when coming to make a purchase. But looking at this closer, you can see that all of the comparison websites are now further down the listings in favour of Google’s own products! When did it become Google’s job to make things like this easier? Surely this is the job of the actual flight comparison websites and the flight companies their self, since they do have enough incentive to do this….better usability equals more sales.
Now we get on to Google Local which includes the 7-pak results and the local listings mingled in within the SERPs. If we take a look at the listings shown for the search term “Manchester Hotels” then we can see thateverything above the fold is either sponsored listings or Google’s own products.
But wait, Google recently said that we should be focusing on quality content, making our websites the top source of information within the industry. And quoting the guidelines from Google directly
“Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?”
Is Google ignoring its own guidelines again…..? This whole scenario is causing lost business for the smaller companies who cannot afford the sponsored listings and lets be fair, the Google Places listings are more of a bonus than a real listing.
Google Mobile Wallet
Next we are looking at the latest Google Mobile Wallet which is offering a Paypal style payment system which is via your mobile phone, the only difference being is that Google Mobile Wallet is free! Does this mean that people will slowly move away from Paypal or maybe even moving further away from traditional credit cards?
This would no doubt all link in nicely with the Google Advisor tool mentioned above within the next few years.
Google’s latest product is Google Offers which seems to be attacking Groupon and other offer websites. Quite fitting really since in the latest algorithm update by Google, Panda, was actually attacking websites like this!
This seems like the good old business plan behind Tesco in the UK. Build lots of large retail outlets and offer cut price goods which forces all of the smaller retailers out of business. Then once all of the smaller retailers are forced out of business because they cannot compete in the market, Tesco opens up some Tesco Express stores to fill the new gap in the market and totally dominating the market place.
It is certainly interesting looking at all of these new developments from Google and how they may all link together. Google already dominate a massive market and it seems they are going after everyone else now too….
Watch this space…