Imagine. You are desperately trying to rank for a specific keyword because you have a great site full of information about it. You spend time and money on SEO professionals who do a perfect job or you dedicate yourself full time to your project to achieve high rankings. Your rankings get better and better and you start loving Google more and more for driving you traffic. Everything goes fine, till you rank on Google’s first page.The first search results for your keyword are a YouTube video, a Knol dealing about your topic and maybe some more company websites (Google books or Blogger maybe?). Is Google still your friend or have they become your competitor for top 5 organic rankings?
The above scenario is not so unrealistic and is based on the NY Times article dealing with the question whether Google is becoming a media company or not. Newspapers have been dealing with huge lay-offs in the US and now it seems they point to digital media as the black sheep. Google organises content, but also owns content, like Knol for example, they claim. Not true, says Google man Stricker, ‘ Google does not intend to own content’.
Still it is hard to see Google as a lonely entity silently organizing and indexing Internet content. The fear of traditional media is not far fetched. Google does own YouTube, the biggest publishing site online, Blogger, a growing blogging service and with Knol they enter the ring against Wikipedia in providing objective expert knowledge. We almost forgot they are also scanning thousands of books for search, publish Associated Press stories in Google news and offer stock market news on Google Finance.
Yet, no intention to own content is present, so you have nothing to worry about, right? Well, maybe you do, according to Harvard Professor David Yoffie. He predicts that as Google will grow, the question will be how unbiased they can remain. The conflicts of interest between Google and publishers might grow as Google not only leads you to content, but also owns content. Whether they lead you to this content objectively or not is then even not the question anymore. Paradoxically, you might end up investing in Adwords to generate traffic for a site competing with Google Finance or YouTube.
Surely new search engines could capitalize on this growing objectivity problem, which remind of the problems Microsoft encountered earlier in the nineties, when they developed both applications and offered the operating system to run them on.