It’s hard to imagine that the search engine behemoth Google started trading in a small suburban garage in California. Back then (1998), supported by a loan from Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim Google was solely focussed on organising the massive amount of information already available on the fledgling World Wide Web and there wasn’t even a hint of the corporate monster that Google would become.
The founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin even coined a company motto ‘Don’t be Evil’, which underlined the companies’ stance of helping people whenever possible.
All that unfortunately changed when Google grew into a publicly traded asset. Shareholders now demand a return for their investment and whilst Google does still in some respects adhere to its mandate of bettering the World it can be quite clear sometimes that what really drives Google is profit. This brings me onto the subject of today’s rant, which is all about why you shouldn’t put all your bets on Google!
Google Isn’t Just a Search Engine
When Google started out, there wasn’t a hint of advertising in search results, everything was organic and geared towards organising data.
Since Google’s introduction of paid advertising in the form of Ads (incorporating Google Shopping and Remarketing) search results have been peppered with advertisements.
At first, there was only one line of advertising at the top of organic results (with supplemental ads down the side). In 2020 a very large portion of a search results page is dominated by Google related services and ads.
This creates a bit of a problem for those in hyper-competitive areas wishing to get traffic from organic listings. Because there are now 4 Google ads at the top of the page and sometimes even more (a block of Google Shopping ads perhaps, or an informational snippet, depending upon your search) the ‘above the fold’ space has now all but disappeared for competitive searches. This isn’t such a problem if you are paying for Google Ads, however, is slightly galling for those who aren’t!
What Are My Options?
If you trade in a highly competitive area your options are:
1). Start paying Google for Ads/Shopping Ads. This is an additional expense, but really makes sense if you are an eCommerce retailer as it expands exposure for your online store.
2). Expand other online marketing, like email marketing, affiliate advertising, online magazine advertising.
3). Recognise that Google Search Engine isn’t the only game in town…
If you’re trading in the UK then Google is by far the biggest search engine for you and the people that use your website, but it isn’t the only way you can get quality traffic and sales. There are many more ways to get sales for your business.
Invest in Ebay and Amazon
Ebay and Amazon together have 40% of all online sales in the UK between them. This means if you’re not trading on Ebay and Amazon you are missing out on a substantial chunk of all potential sales for your business! You’re going to need a fully specified EPoS system like our own Intelligent Retail Connect system to properly manage these channels.
Check out Other Search Engines
Although Google in the UK has an impressively high (90%+) market share, the same doesn’t apply everywhere. Ranking in Bing, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo and other search engines means that you get more coverage. Most organic optimisation in the UK focuses on optimisation for Google.co.uk, so making sure you also rank in these other search engines means that you’re stealing a march on your competitors.
Search engines are not the only game in town when it comes to getting quality traffic to your website. Affiliate marketing companies (see https://bit.ly/39K3KP1 for a recent list) can offer a decent return for marketing spend and give a substantial uplift to sales. Affiliate programmes offer to send targeted traffic to your website, with the senders of that traffic getting a commission on any sales that you subsequently make. It’s basically a revenue share scheme, with an advertiser getting a cut of a sale when you sell a product.
Cover All the Bases
Online marketing in 2020 is about getting coverage across all the available marketing channels. This means email marketing, paid advertising (Google AdWords etc), consolidators and auction sites (Amazon, Ebay) and methods such as social media marketing (Facebook ads, Facebook shops, Twitter, Pinterest etc) must be used for maximum effect and spread of opportunity. If you utilise all of these methods then there is no reason why you can’t beat Google at their game!
Head of eCommerce
David has been involved with Search Engine Optimisation and web development since 1999 and has spoken at many different retail and SEO conferences including Spring Fair and SES London