The quick answer is not yet. It looks like there are continuing strategic efforts on the part of Microsoft, Yahoo, and AOL to mitigate Google’s stranglehold on search but other than their collective market share of around 35% there is nothing too promising. A couple of weeks ago there were rumblings in the WSJ about AOL buying Yahoo but the follow-up story in today’s WSJ took the story from a long-shot to a maybe-this-could-happen. There’s a conversation taking place on-line right now regarding the impact of Google’s local search strategy and while there are plenty of reasons to like it from a searcher’s perspective, one can’t help but wonder about Google’s motives. After all Google is a for-profit business with share holders to please. The big questions are always around motives. Why are they giving that to us free? How long before they crush us and take that business away?
Right now it doesn’t look too promising for Yelp.com or the Yellow Pages, and that brings me to my point: What if Google pushes too far? Is it possible a start-up like Blekko can actually make it? Rich Skrenta, Blekko’s chief executive, says his goal is be number three. Blekko has raised $24 million from venture-capital firms and well-known angel investors Ron Conway and Marc Andreessen. This isn’t the first time a start-up has challenged Google. Cuil, a search company started by former Google engineers, was shut down in September after a two-year run and $33 million in funding. Right now Google is still king of search with a whopping 70% market share. Their biggest challenge may be not making any more enemies. Angry ingenuity has been the genesis of more that one number-two brands. Pepsi and Apple are the first two that come to mind. No matter what happens make sure your web site is fully optimized. Check your analytics regularly to make sure you are moving in the right direction. Ad a drip marketing email system and start building your opt-in list now. Remember, there is a competitor out there optimizing for the same search terms and you don’t want to be the one playing catch up. A cohesive insurance marketing effort that includes SEO, SEM, insurance telemarketing and email campaigns will pay big dividends.