Will Google Always Be the Only Option?
When you tell someone to search for something online, what do you say? Odds are you have frequently muttered some variation of “Just Google it.” You may have even used it to define your own actions. For instance, you could say “I Googled the weather this morning and it looks like it’s going to snow.” Either way, what’s important to note here is that Google has become a verb. Yes, it is the name of a search engine and the company behind it, but we use it in shorthand as an action. This is reflective of how ubiquitous Google is and how many people don’t even think about other options.
Those options do exist. Google isn’t a monopoly in the sense that there is no competition. The issue is that no one is using it. For instance, one report claimed that Yahoo got about 2.4% of all traffic on search engines. And Yahoo is a massive site that sits second on the search lists. All other engines (outside of Google, of course) get less than 2.4%. Yahoo is doing well, by that metric, but they’re nowhere near the 90% of traffic that Google sees.
How Did They Get Here?
Google started with innovation. The internet was pretty new and Google helped people navigate it when your average person didn’t know how to get online or find what they wanted. It’s hard to imagine now, with most people carrying a computer around in their pocket, but the world of the early internet in the 90s was not the world of today. The internet seemed foreign and intimidating. Sites like Google (which started in 1998) made it accessible, and that’s why they began to do so well.
Today, though, things are different. Google uses money to secure their power in this space. For instance, if you have an Apple iPhone or an iPad and you noticed that the default search engine is Google, there’s a reason: Google paid billions to make that happen. Yes, you can change it, but they know that most people won’t. That gives them instant access to millions of users and millions of devices.
Could Change Be Coming?
If you want to optimize your site, it’s important to know where your readers come from. Today, that’s Google in the vast majority of cases. But could it be changing? Possibly. Google is now facing illegal monopoly allegations and facing a lawsuit from the Department of Justice. The company has also been involved in other lawsuits, such as some involving the collection and use of user data, and has paid out hundreds of millions of dollars.
On the other side of the coin, though, Google as already achieved the cultural relevance of something like Kleenex — a word used to describe all facial tissues. People call internet searching “Googling” and will say that regardless of what browser they used. This sort of relevance is hard to manufacture and means that most people may already be programmed to accept Google as the default option, even if Google doesn’t actively try to create a monopoly. That could lead to continued use, regardless of the outcome of the court case. Most people may not even know that the case happened or what the outcome was.
Optimizing for Search Traffic
If you’re considering how to optimize your site for more organic search traffic, the number you mainly care about is that 90% of search traffic that Google controls. That’s where you need to focus your efforts, and we can help here at Content Customs. However, it is also wise to keep an eye on current events and potential market changes. Make sure you watch the outcome of this case — it may take years — and consider the long-term impact it could have on SEO and search trends.