Some investors also worry about Google's ability to keep pace with consumers' evolving use of the web. Say you want to buy running shoes to train for a marathon. Five years ago you would have simply Googled it, looked at the list of results, weighed your options, and made the purchase, perhaps by clicking on one of the sponsored links that accompanied your search. Today you might still do that, but increasingly you might pose the question "What running shoes should I buy?" to your friends on Facebook, or maybe write "Who knows about training for marathons?" on Twitter. By the time shopping service Groupon sends you (and 25 of your friends) an offer for the perfect shoes and registration for a race, you'll probably just pounce on it.This is a big social, cultural and behavioural problem that Google faces.
Social recommendation is starting to become more accessible, more instantaneous and more trustworthy than search - therefore my friends and online connections now compete with my search engine as a go-to strategy. Am I getting too lazy to Google? If so, that's a frightening trend.
There are a multitude of examples, and make no mistake, it's not like Google is shutting up shop. If anything, they're the perfect company to ride out the upcoming social search threat and you can see they've already started using Buzz to include the social circle on results pages. But where Google succeeds oh-so-well in niche searches, it fails miserably on high traffic keywords.
Looking for real information on LCD panel reviews (to replace yours that may have been stolen, for instance, thank you thieves). The Google search pounds you with irrelevant information, affiliate sites and short keyword stuffed posts that make my eyes sore with the lack of value. Even our good local friend, Chris Mills from iMod popped up on this search. Front page, with his article: Best way to clean and LCD screen. I like to poke fun at 'ol Chris every now and again - but would never take away from his prowess at churning out keyword rich content and generating a ridiculous amount of traffic. This skill has turned him into a top "Blogger" in South Africa (perhaps aggregator is a better word?).
But cleaning an LCD screen and giving me info on the best LCD screen to buy is NOT related. It's rubbish search results. Search for "best way to clean LCD screen" - and now iMod doesn't appear, bested by someone who was willing to invest more SEO time than he was I gather. Cue scream: WHY.
Point is, something smells ladies and gents. Something is wrong with the world of search. I just don't feel like sifting through that kind of crap.
SEO is stuck in a dangerous place. As a content or services site, if you don't have SEO you're saying goodbye to 25% to 50% of your potential traffic. So the SEO companies smile and take your money. But who's looking at the longer term picture. Who says the YOUR content is the MOST relevant for the keyword you're targetting? You?
Well you're biased Mr Company.
And chances are, I'll turn to Twitter and Facebook for more and more of my questions. Especially the ones about buying your products.