In 2002 Google Product search encroached on Amazon, Ebay Shopzilla, and The Find. Then, in 2005 Google Maps encroached upon MapQuest and in 2006 Google Finance was released as competition to Yahoo Finance, MSN Money, and AOL Money. In 2009 it was Google Health competing with Web MD and Mayo Clinic. In 2010 Google Boutiques went after Ebay and Amazon…again and Google Hotspot started to offer the same service offered by Yelp. Finally, in 2011 Google plans to launch a travel search site that will compete with Kayak, Expedia and TripAdvisor.
There is a lot of noise in the blogosphere right now about Google and the number of changes they have made to their search algorithms and how that is affecting businesses that depend upon Google, not only for their success, but for their long-term survival. As with almost everything in life the question is about motive and transparency. Is it really fair of Google to use it’s search success to cherry pick the very best businesses and compete? My answer to that question is unequivocally YES. Google has what the rest of us in business covet and that is a TRUE unfair advantage. Bully for them! Its a FREE market! By the way, Google claims they are simply trying to make relevant information easier to find. Whether they are trying to keep searchers, or shareholders happy how they go about it is their prerogative. The question isn’t the morality of it but the risk. How far can they go before they present an unintended opportunity to Bing, Yahoo, AOL, Facebook, or even Blekko
What this means for insurance marketing? Do due diligence when selecting key words. There is a fine line between high traffic terms and terms that are too specific. Make sure your site is optimized for Google Places and did you know you can add about 10% more traffic by optimizing for Bing as well.