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E-Marketing Performance Blog

Google's Big Earthquake

It’s been some time since the last issue of the Pole Position News went out. I’ve got plenty of excuses at the ready but the bottom line is that I just didn’t make time to put a new issue together. Shame on me!

There have been quite a few tremors in the search engine world over the past several months, and just when we get caught up on one change, two more changes seem to occur. But back in November the big one happened: Google drastically changed its ranking algorithm throwing out thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of top ranked sites and replaced them with what largely appeared to be spam sites. Not a good business move for Google, or was it?

Many quality and relevant sites that previously maintained top positions were suddenly nowhere in the top 100 of their keyword searches. This created a big boon to Google’s AdWords pay-per-click advertising program. In the midst of the Christmas shopping season sites were forced to purchase AdWords ads if they wanted to continue to drive traffic to their site and sell their products though the remainder of the busy Christmas season.

Google adamantly denies that there is any relation between their organic (natural) search department and the AdWords department but the timing leaves the door open to a plethora of conspiracy theories. Also worth noting is that Google is laying the groundwork for an IPO later this spring and they may have had some issues with leasing some of their search technology from Stanford University. It is rumored that instead of paying millions of dollars to Stanford, Google did some live testing on a brand new algorithm. By most accounts in the SEO industry, the testing was a complete failure.

Well, last week another major earthquake happened, and this one is welcome by most with in the SEO world. Yahoo, after owning their own search technology (Inktomi) for over a year, finally dumped Google as their major search provider. By one estimate Google’s search market share dropped from 75% to 51% overnight. Other estimates had Google at 80-85% before Yahoo dropped them, and are now placing Yahoo at around a 40% share.

This is great news to anybody that lost their pre-November rankings on Google and anybody else just beginning to optimize their site for the search engines. Google, while still an important search engine, no longer holds a monopoly on search results. Now a top ranking on Yahoo will be almost as valuable as a top Google ranking, and if you lose your top rankings on one engine or the other, it won’t mean an end to your sales.

It is also believed that because Google’s results had been so poor for the past several months, many people may have abandoned searches on Google and gone to other search outlets to find what they were looking for. Interestingly to note, the same day that Yahoo rolled out their own search results, Google seemed to be putting out pre-November results. Many sites who initially lost their top rankings are finding themselves back on top. This is not universal for all sites, and again, it may be just a coincidence, but the door is open for speculation.

More good news is on the horizon. Later this year, perhaps as early as this summer, MSN is set to unveil their own search technology to compete with Google and Yahoo. Microsoft is not the master of quality but they are the masters of PR and you can bet that once MSN search is rolled out there will be a big PR drive to take searches away from both Google and Yahoo. Why is this good? Because the more places to go to get quality results means more opportunities for top rankings that matter, and fewer opportunities for dropped rankings to create a severe loss of revenue.

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!. He is the founder and CEO of Pole Position Marketing, a web presence optimization firm whose pit crew has been velocitizing websites since 1998. In his free time Stoney gets involved in community services and ministries with his “bride enjoy” and his children. Read Stoney’s full bio.

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