by James Lawrence on February 2, 2021 | Google Ads

I’ve been struck in recent weeks by the lack of panic in marketing and business circles when the topic of Google’s potential exit comes up. Perhaps a year of marketing through COVID, and all the flexibility and resilience that has been required, has made us all a little harder to rattle.  

I hope Google doesn’t remove their search offering from Australia and I’m still hopeful it won’t eventuate. But it’s most certainly possible, and it got us thinking what this would look like. Here’s our best current thinking. 

Google Search

Let’s take the worst-case scenario where Google.com.au ceases to be available. I’ve heard commentators talk about this as if it’s the end of the internet. I do not share this view. Whilst it would almost certainly make marketing more unpredictable and complex for a time, there would be plenty of opportunities for smart marketers to jump ahead of the competition. 

It’s hard to see how Google’s exit would decrease the number of searches performed daily in Australia. All that will change is that Google will no longer serve these requests. In fact, given the often lesser quality of the other search engines, there remains a distinct possibility that more rather than less searches will be required to find the right result. 

Which search engine would win?

Where will the estimated 94% of the search market Google controls in Australia end up? Will it be the next most popular search engine in Australia – Bing? Or will one of the smaller players be the big winner? Perhaps Yahoo, DuckDuckGo or Ecosia?

A reasonable guess is that the remaining players will all gain market share and we will end up with a more competitive search market than we’ve had since the early 2000’s. It would also be reasonable to assume that Bing would be the biggest winner as they have the deepest pockets and the largest share of the market outside of Google currently. Whilst a percentage of users will follow the more obscure search engines for their own personal reasons (privacy, environment and more) most people will take the simplest path which could come down to browser defaults and brand awareness pushing them in a particular direction. One wildcard is that the remaining dominant search engines could be impacted by the new legislation and could also have decisions to make about how they respond.

Impact on Search Ads

If you’ve invested time and money into Google Ads (and who hasn’t) you shouldn’t panic. You can currently import your Google Ads campaigns directly into Microsoft Advertising and appear on Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo and more. If you’re worried about this functionality changing, then now is a good time to ensure your campaigns are available in Google and Microsoft Ads. Need help? Get in touch.

Impact on SEO

This one is trickier. Whilst most search engines favour similar signals when it comes to their algorithms, it’s commonly accepted that Google has the most powerful engine overall. What this means is that much of the work you might have done to rank well within Google will not have been wasted. However, depending on which search engines you favour in the future, additional work may need to be done to make your results as attractive as possible. 

On the other hand, SEO has never been a set and forget channel. If you’re serious about SEO you know constant work goes into this channel. It might be that future months of work will be more directly connected to a Google exit if it happens.

YouTube, Google Display Network, Gmail and more

Firstly, marketers and businesses use Google for a lot more than just search ads or search engine optimisation. There has been no comment on the future of the many other valuable Google services and given the revenue and customer bases involved, I’d see it as likely that the non-search specific opportunities for marketing and advertising within Google would remain either in their entirety or in some significant form. 

Don’t forget: advertisers follow audiences

Your job as a marketer is to find your audience. There is very little more important than this basic challenge. Whatever happens with Google in the Australian marketplace your audience will still be there. They’ll simply be in different places. Finding them might be a little harder at first which means that those marketers who think through the challenge quickly and intelligently will have an advantage. As with all challenges, the question you need to ask yourself is, where is the opportunity? Hopefully, COVID has made all of us smarter and faster when it comes to finding the silver lining of even the darkest cloud.

Next Steps

A threat can be an excellent trigger for thinking through the opportunities and risks to your business. Right now, we’re not advocating any specific action for most businesses. If however, you see this as a good opportunity to assess your reliance on a single channel, then this article should give you some direction.

As always, if you’d like to speak with someone who thinks about solving marketing problems every day of the week, then give us a call on 1300 059 620 or get in touch with us.

 

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