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Cooking Up Universal Search Domination with Google

Many people are familiar with Google’s stated mission to “organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” But close followers of the company’s insatiable desire to enter and conquer new vertical markets may understand it a little differently: Total. Internet. Domination.

So it came as little surprise when Google recently announced it had launched Google Recipes. After all, as David Carr noted on his Rough Type blog on Tuesday:

“When you’re looking for a good recipe today, you probably don’t reach for Joy of Cooking or Fannie Farmer or some other trusty, soup-stained volume on your cookbook shelf. You probably grab your laptop or tablet and enter the name of a dish or an ingredient or two into the search box. And that makes Google very important in the world of eating.”

Think about it. If you get home late from work and want to whip up an easy, quick comfort food meal, if you have one in mind, chances are you will use a search engine to find your favorite Mark Bittman recipe for spaghetti and fried eggs in olive oil with garlic.

Now, you might click through to the original article from 1998 in The New York Times if Google and other search engines merely return natural search results. That’s good for creators of original content on the Internet and the diversity of material.

But with Google’s policy of Universal Search, and its new Google Recipes project – Google will likely put its own result for the recipe at the top of the page and keep you on its site. With Google Books – should Google ever be so bold as to put forward a proposal that doesn’t violate antitrust, copyright and privacy public policies – the company will probably try to sell you one of Bittman’s cookbooks too.

Perhaps more troubling are observations that Google’s latest foray into vertical search seems to favor content from “big corporate sites, which can afford to spend big bucks on SEO,” at the expense of smaller sites and amateur food bloggers. As Nicholas Carr notes, “The folks who lose out are the little guys.”

Recipes – it might seem like a pretty innocuous idea, but it all matches up with Google’s plan to use its dominance in search to control every corner of the Internet. Let’s just hope consumers and the rest of “the little guys” don’t lose out if Google succeeds.