You will often hear the question posed as to whether Google has become too big.
Many people do not go any further than just this one, superficial question but really it warrants much deeper investigation.
The whole issue is much more nuanced that it would appear at first glance.
- What part of Google?
- So what if it becomes large? What problems could that present?
- Who would be impacted if it became too big? A problem for who?
- Just what is ‘too big’?
Looking at the first point, what part of Google, it is important to realise that the company that started as Google has its fingers in many pies.
Many people are unaware of the fact that as far back as 2015 Google reorganised itself under a holding company called Alphabet.
Under the holding company as well as Google there are divisions that cover a multitude of other activities.
To name but a few there are sub companies that deal with disease research and health care, research into ageing, self-driving vehicles, technology to improve cities, internet access provision through balloons, an equity investment arm that funds and often acquires start-ups, artificial intelligence and wind turbines.
Nest labs and their hardware is quite common now, this too is an Alphabet subsidiary.
There is a more detailed list of just what is included in the Business Insider article on Alphabet and Google.
The entity that was once known just as Google impacts many more areas than one would imagine. The list above is a very small subset of the Alphabet groups total interests.
For the purposes of this article let us focus on what most people think of when they say Google and that is the search engine side.
It would be impossible to talk about Google as a search engine without also at least acknowledging the fact that Google also wholly owns another massive search engine in YouTube and that the technology many of us use to interact with the internet, our web browser, is quite likely to be Google’s own Chrome offering.
The other three bullet points are all fairly well interconnected.
If Google, the search engine and browser provider, becomes too large it creates a dependency for all those people and organisations that depend on ‘organic’ web traffic to be found.
One definition of too big from the point of view of these organisations might be when if they cannot be found quickly and easily on Google and any traffic from the alternatives to Google is too small to realistically justify keeping the company or shop going with the trickle that comes in.
That is just one aspect of it.
Very recently some change that was made to the underlying engine that Chrome uses appeared to stop certain credit cards check out processes from working with no explanation.
As Chrome has just under seventy percent (70%) of market share does this mean that it was ‘too big’ and too much of a dependency had been created?
We have seen no statistics on the adverse impact of this but can imagine it could have been very problematical especially for those that did not realise it was a browser related issue and had tight deadlines around online payments to make.
Another possible judgement call as to when a company is ‘too big’ is when its finances and free cash are large enough that it has the potential to influence decisions that would normally be outside its sphere.
With listed revenue of over 61 billion dollars and quarterly profits of over 18 billion dollars there is certainly enough financial clout to influence decisions.
Let us consider the scenario of an entrepreneur establishing a new brand selling some product or service.
In today’s business environment being able to have your voice heard online is a must, more and more of the buying of both products and services takes place online.
As at June 2021 Google had over 92% share of the search engine market, it deals with over 100 billion, not million, searches per month each and every month.
As can be seen it feels like it could be pretty hard to get found if you are not visible on Google and to do that the entrepreneur is competing with every other online outlet in their niche that wants the same attention and Google love.
Faced with these daunting statistics we put it to the professionals and interviewed Dave Parmitt, a Digital Marketing specialist at Smoking Chili Media;
“The whole thing is a little more complicated than just that. With the search engine dominance of Google, you want to focus on your SEO and SEM to make sure that you do feature highly. If you want you can think of it in fishing terms, Google is where the fish, your customers, are so that is where you want to be too.
The problem is it is not just about knowing how to get toward the top on there, you also need to know what to do if you get slapped by Google and dropped down their search results because of something they see as a bad practice around your site.
It is about getting there, staying there, and recovering when you drop as a result of any of the regular changes they do.
You also need to build in some resilience and develop a customer contact base that does not just depend on any one search engine, this is why we recommend building a robust social media marketing strategy as well.
Also it sounds old school now but it is still true that the list is your friend and making sure you have strategies and tools in place to build a GDPR compliant email list of both existing and potential customers is another major tool in your arsenal.”
Is Google becoming too big?
Possibly, but it seems that they key thing is how you respond to the reality of Googles market position.
It seems the best advice is even if it is one of the main legs you stand on make sure it is not the only one and that you pay attention to making sure you keep compliant with any Google requirements while they are the big gorilla in the playground.