In his rather good book about the mighty Google Ken Auleta said that one of Google’s strengths was that it was a platform to the rest of the web and that it wanted users to spend as little time on the Google search page as possible. He was comparing it to portal sites like Yahoo! and AOL which rapidly fell out of favour at the turn of the century while Google grew from strength to strength. When Google first appeared in 1998 the difference between it and other search engine sites was stark. The minimal feel of Google was liberating and allowed users to be in control of the information they viewed rather than suggesting it like Yahoo! or the like.
Step forward nearly 15 years (I know it’s been that long) and things have changed. Although Google is still unequivocally the king of search in most developed countries (with China and Russia notable exceptions) it has had to change its strategy to deal with a new kind of enemy – the social network, and particularly Facebook. Recent research has shown American’s spend five times as much web time on Facebook than any Google site. This is why when you compare Google today to how it was even a few years back it has become far more concerned with how long you spend on its site. Nowadays through search personalisation, Google+, Gmail, Blogger and so on Google wants to keep you right where they can see you.
What does this mean for the future? Well with Google+ going live this week there’s no going back, Google is now slowly becoming a portal and in doing so is a long long way from its roots.
- Google+ under investigation after search changes? (techradar.com)
- Why The New Google Look Still Feels Wrong (forbes.com)
- Google is no longer “The Internet” but it’s still going to beat Facebook and Twitter (thenextweb.com)
- FTC expands Google antitrust probe to Google+ (buzzom.com)