Google Revamps Search Page to "Maintain its Dominant Market Share"
Google plans to overhaul the way it returns search results over the coming months to “fix the shortcomings of today’s technology and maintain its dominant market share,” Amir Efrati reports in The Wall Street Journal today.
While it remains to be seen what impact that these changes will have on the actual search page, Google’s decision to show more “answers” to users instead of links to organic search results could have the effect of making it harder for users to find specialized search engines and services online that may give them a better answer than those offered by Google’s own products.
Google Says: Better for Users
More like: Better for Google. According to PC Magazine, “Another result of this significant search makeover would be more places for Google to place ads.” Remember, according to Google’s founders, “Advertising funded search engines [96% of Google’s revenue comes from advertising] will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of consumers.” (Read more about the Google Problem).
Google Says: Better for Innovation
Search Engine Land concludes, “To sum up, Google’s already said several times over the past year or so that it would be providing more and more direct answers. It sounds like that’s the biggest thing that’s likely to be released in the coming months. Those direct answers potentially take traffic away from a relatively small set of sites that try to serve up direct answers.”
But it’s not clear just how “small” that set of sites will be. Efrati’s reporting in the Wall Street Journal is that “the shift to semantic search could directly impact the search results for 10% to 20% of all search queries, or tens of billions per month.
Google’s practice of scraping content from other sites and featuring it as an “answer” at the top of the page steers users back to Google’s own products, where they can sell more ads, and denies other companies whose organic results would be featured more prominently the user traffic and revenue they can invest in developing new products and creating jobs.
Remember, Google’s last two algorithmic changes have come under scrutiny for inserting Google’s results above other, more relevant results and demoting other sites in favor of Google products and services.