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April 19, 2007

Google Rules The Market For One Reason…

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They’re smarter than their competition.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Google lately. Last week I had the pleasure of meeting John Ebbert from ContextWeb and he asked me to participate in their latest Brain Exchange which posed one question to several respected industry figures (and one loser blogger): Is Google Too Powerful?

To read my full answer you can check out my post entitled Google’s Not The Point. You Are on the ContextWeb site, but I think you can guess from my cleverly written title that my answer was no, Google’s not too powerful. Google’s not leading the market because they’ve formed a monopoly on the Web and taken away user choice; they’re leading because they’re smarter and more innovative than their competition.

Take yesterday’s announcement that Google was integrating features that very much resembled StumbleUpon into their toolbar. The announcement came immediately after rumors began spreading that eBay had just won out over Google in the bidding war to buy StumbleUpon. Coincidence? Of course not. Google was working behind the scenes to develop their own version of StumbleUpon in case negotiations didn’t go as they planned. Smart.

And it’s not the first time this has happened, either. While I was making dinner last night, John Battelle was blogging that sources told him Google had built an entire DoubleClick killer in case they lost out on that deal to Microsoft. But they didn’t; Google was able to outbid Microsoft, and take control of DoubleClick and its accompanying search engine optimization company.

Google’s been successful because they’re proactive (are you getting Jessica Simpson flashbacks now? I’m sorry.), not reactive. They didn’t put all their faith in the idea that they’d be able to simply buy DoubleClick or StumbleUpon and rest on their achievements. They were already thinking about what they would if they didn’t get them. Also, by developing similar technology, it gives Google valuable insight into the way those companies work. Information that will be very helpful to them in leveraging the new services. If you want your company to be successful, you need to think the same way.

Successful companies are proactive, and they’re proactive in two ways.

First, they’re proactive in their search engine optimization and search marketing campaigns. If you’ve been in SEO for any length of time, one of things you’ve heard about it are the sites that wait for a shift in the algorithm to take place and then frantically try to revamp their site to address the changes. They’ll see that today the engines are paying special attention to links and all of a sudden their optimization campaign is restructured to increase the number of inbound links and forget about all the other stuff. Then a month later, more content is the key to finding the way into the engine’s favor and once again their search engine optimization campaign is tweaked to make this their priority. Don’t be that company.

I want to be really clear about this: Reactive sites don’t rank well over the long term, if at all. While you’re struggling to play catch up, the algorithm is already changing to make your latest moves outdated. You’re old news before you even finish.

To be successful, make sure you’re looking at the engines through a wide angle lens. Don’t concentrate on their activity over the past 3-6 months. Construct a search engine optimization campaign that addresses trends you’ve seen develop over the long term. If you can’t do this yourself, we’d recommend you consult with an optimization company that’s been around for 5+ years. A good, proactive search engine optimization company will know what best practices to follow to achieve high rankings today, as well as what things you should be focusing on to keep those rankings over the long term.

Being proactive also goes beyond your optimization campaign. You have to take a look at your business, your customers and your industry and analyze past trends to see what’s going to be "big" a year down the road, five years down the road, etc. You have start addressing concerns customers don’t even know they have yet.

Google has been amazing at this and that’s why they’re successful. Before Gmail launched, did you think a day would come when you would need unlimited email storage? Did you think you’d become dependant on an email program that lets you search instead of hunting through folders? Would you have dreamed of an IP-addressable cable box that targets TV ads based on household interests and demographics? Google is all about delivering what you want before you know you want it. That’s why they’re number one.

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One response to “Google Rules The Market For One Reason…”

  1. Matt Cutts writes:

    I like how you tied being proactive in business to being proactive in SEO. Certainly the companies that think about the future of search, what users will want and love, and the long-term direction of trends are probably going to be well-positioned when the next major change in SEO (whatever it may be) comes down the pike.



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