It is hard to remember in these Googly days that there was a time not so long ago when the boys from Yahoo were all anyone wanted to talk about. The search engines were fighting it out for share, and I actually selected Alta Vista as my preferred engine based on its spectacular results for the query “god that gets liver eaten out each night.” However, that was a pretty crazy and edgy choice, because Yahoo clearly dominated the Internet. Yahoo was the complete and utter shiz, and Yahoo would rule the world 4EVA.
Which is to say that even in these Googly times it makes sense to remember that the Web giveth, and the Web taketh away. There is really nothing tying the searching public to one search engine or another besides preference, habit, and perhaps a toolbar or two. If people find that some other search engine begins offering them better results, they’ll wander over there instead. Google knows it, too, which is why they’ve been so desperate to take the big pot o’ money they’ve made from their current popularity and diversify their offerings.
This article on GigaOM suggests that one potential chink in the Google armor is vertical search. While Google offers breadth, vertical search engines in areas like health, real estate, and travel offer a depth of information that Google can’t match. As the searching public becomes more savvy they’ll start going straight to these sources for their specific info needs, leaving Google behind like the high school boyfriend you outgrew. Destination sites pose another potential threat to Google’s growth, according to Red Bricks Media‘s own Craig Hordlow. He sees Google’s growth slowing already as people begin to figure out that they can go straight to sites like Wikipedia or IMDB to get the information they are looking for.
In our business we feel to a certain extent like we are in thrall to Google, but it’s wise to keep our eyes on the horizon so we can see the next thing that will be the Biggest Thing Ever.