Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Power of Google

Interesting post on Coding Horror about the power Google wields. Essentailly, they operate the front door for 70% of web-based bsunesses.

Obviously, once concern is how Google will use this power. So far, they do not seem to be faollowing the example of another organization that wields this much power, Wal-Mart, which squeezes suppliers to the point where they have little choice but to go off shore.

If anything, Google has the potential to be even more powerful than Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart can only control what is sold within its four walls. Suppiliers can theoretically (if not practically) opt out of dealing with Wal-Mart. Web business cannot opt out of Google.

There's another side to it, too. Wal-Mart's pressure on its supplier is entirely under Wal-Mart's control. But Google's influence is through somewhat transparent algorithms and policies. We've already seen how some have manipulated Google's algorithms for political purposes. Is it that far out to think that someone would maliciously try to sabotage a competitor's site to get it off Google listings.

I predict that there will be a growing industry in dealing with Google. Former Google employees will be able to command high salaries for helping to optimize web sites' positioning in Google. It will be an industry like tax planning or working around government regulations.


MsZilla said...

If you don't know yet to ask me these questions there really no hope for you. ;)

Google really is the 800 lb gorilla in the room, but you should read that Coding Horror post with a grain of salt. They were hacked and didn't do a thing about it for over two weeks. Google had to yank them because they were causing results that forwarded people to sex sites. Now they're mad at Google because they couldn't keep security or maintain their site.

Yes, there is a cottage industry that exists just to try to massage Google and other search engines. Been around since the mid-nineties. See for a couple good tools, or just Google on "search engine optimization" for a long list of companies. I'm not over-fond of them, because they're mostly fly-by-nights and even the reputable ones can't actually deliver what they promise - the top of the Google results list. You can improve your position on it, but it's far easier with a few simple things in your code and a properly submitted site map. Your webmaster shouldn't need someone to tell them to do that.

Is this right? Well, I don't know. I'm pretty paranoid about them myself. This sort of thing combined with their new data mining stuff in Gmail worries me.

There's a huge disconnect in people's heads about this. I always find it funny when I get on a forum and I see the same people who are having a cow about Microsoft and it's "monopoly" signing on with their Gmail account. And these guys are supposed to know better.

JohnMcG said...

Google is still at least perceived as something that people choose to work with rather than have to deal with, as MS was. Don't like Google? Use another engine.

Didn't see that Coding Horror story as an abuse of power, just an interesting demonstration of thier power. I think they were within their rights. Google has a business to run, too.

JohnMcG said...

I think another reason Google has escaped ire is that most of its products are better than the competition.

For example, I started using Google Reader instead of Bloglines, and Reader has everything I use in Bloglines, only better, plus I can look at it on my Google home page.

With MS, I think there was the perception that their products were not superior, but won because of MS's market position. Was Excel really better than Lotus 1-2-3? IE better than Netscape? Word better than WordPerfect? Not obviously.

But Google's search is better than anyone else's, as is their ad service. And Gmail beats the hell out of other web-based mail systems.

Some things are duds, and I'm sure they'll hit a sour note soon enough. But I think the perception is that they've earned their market position through innovation rather than bullying.