Imagine a company that is not only dominating their field, but is also continually creating a system to absorb and capitalize on the strengths of its competitors. According to Wired Magazine’s Steven Levy, Google is doing just that. It is no surprise Google holds a near monopoly in search with a greater than 65% market share, but has also been holding their own despite the giant leaps taken recently by competitors Microsoft and Yahoo! (see Titan Growth®‘s Search Alliance article).
In fact, Google’s recent Caffeine update (see Titan Growth®‘s Google Caffeine article) and launch of social networking platform, Buzz (see Titan Growth®‘s Buzz article) are only two of the more than 200 updates and improvements Google can take credit for during the past six months. Although that might seem like a huge number, Google also claims to be planning for approximately 550 updates to their algorithm during the coming year, which prompts us to wonder what is coming down the pipeline and how we can make sure our clients are ready.
For one thing, we can take a card from our leading search engine and go on the offensive. Every year Google hold a CSI (Crazy Search Ideas) Fair to seek new and innovative ideas to solve many of the problems their algorithm cannot handle. Furthermore, the search engine ensures they know what their algorithm’s weaknesses are thanks to the hundreds of people specifically employed by Google to conduct thousands of test searches. Finally, once Google understands their weaknesses and has a few good ideas about overcoming them, they perform continual testing in mass amounts. In fact, virtually every Google search we do is part of at least one test or another.
Once Google has determined the updates needed via vast amounts of testing, they proceed, often with little more fanfare than a blog post. When asked about keeping up with these updates and preventing hard earned search engine rankings from dropping off, Danny Shepherd, President of Titan Growth® said, “All three major search engines are constantly updating and tweaking their algorithms, filters, and databases. A good SEO company will anticipate these updates and make the subtle changes needed on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. A few times a year, however, each search engine comes along with a major update that requires a substantial amount of preparation and readiness on the part of advertisers and SEO companies to maintain hard-earned rankings. We can use these updates as a good time to capitalize on the loss of rankings that unprepared competitors suffer from. Companies that are on top of these updates are always going to fare better in both the short and long term by gaining new rankings and holding onto the rankings that they had prior to the updates.”
These updates, which often coincide with the advancements of competing search engines not only allow us to take a good look at our competition, but also ensure we are as prepared for the search landscape going forward as they may be, or possibly more. Consequently, our competitors are doing the same thing, just as Bing is taking advantage of the rare instances where Google’s algorithm falls behind, such as providing real-time updates to airfare schedules, ticket prices, shopping items, or reference materials. While Bing and Yahoo! may still fall on the lean side of the market share pie chart, such awareness, strategy, and innovation will allow them to find a niche and succeed regardless, which is a great lesson for the underdog in every industry.