Google, I Think I Love You ... So What Am I So Afraid Of?

Author's Note: If you haven’t read Dave Davies’ hilarious post, "An Open Letter to Google", please read it before you read this post. It served as a great inspiration to the following few paragraphs.

On the heels of Google’s earnings announcement, I thought it would be an appropriate time to confess.

i-love-you-googleIt’s hard to admit it, like the first time you’re about to tell your high school sweetheart that you love her. Your pulse hits 180, your palms get sweaty but also cold at the same time, you open your mouth and no voice comes out.

What terrifies you the most is that you will admit it but she won’t, or even worse, she would tell you she doesn’t feel the same way. But you master the courage and you blurb out the dreadful words – “I love you.”

I haven’t always loved Google. Actually, not too long ago, I publicly endorsed findings about Google’s declining paid search usage and encouraged marketers to stop using paid search altogether. I regret it today. Not because I think I was wrong – I was dead on – but because I don’t want to offend Google.

The thing is, I don’t really love Google. I admire Google, but it’s more of a love-hate relationship than anything else. I love hating Google.

But to be truly honest, I’m mostly scared of Google. Maybe scared is too harsh. I am – professionally – terrified of Google.

Google Dominates the Search Market

You're probably familiar with the monthly comScore reports about the search market and Google’s share of the market. Most reports in the last few years have shown a consistent, strong dominance of the market with anywhere from 65 percent to 70 percent market share attributed to Google.

The problem with these search market share reports is that they tell you nothing about your own segment. So we ran our own analysis on the B2B segment and found that Google actually controls almost 90 percent of that market.

Actually, in November 2012, Google exceeded the 90 percent market share with 90.15 percent of all organic search visits to B2B websites coming from Google.

google-dominating-organic-search-market

These data points aligned with comScore reports showing November as Google’s strongest month in years.

Organic Search #1 Driver of Traffic

Optify’s annual B2B Marketing Benchmark report also revealed that organic search was ranked as the top driver of visits with 41 percent of visits originated from organic search. This stat, combined with Google’s complete dominance of the Search market, makes Google the single most important referring domain in this segment.

Google is responsible for over 35 percent of all the visits to websites in this segment, and that includes my website. So call me crazy, but I’m terrified.

The Origin of Fear & Love

So why am I so terrified with Google that I’m willing to admit my undivided love? I’m terrified because at any point in time Google might decide that it doesn’t love me anymore. And not that Google ever admitted its love to me, but actions (or data) speak louder than words, and over the years, Google has shown me that it really loves me.

Thousands of visitors, leads, pageviews, higher ranking keywords and better converting paid ads. In the last few years Google provided my company with enough revenue to sustain, grow, and scale the business; I think that’s love.

But sometimes love comes with a price, and in recent years my relationship with Google transformed into a somewhat abusive relationship. Google has punished me for “not playing nice,” prevented me from learning anything about my relationship with its other users and got offended when I decided to play with others.

not-provided-rate

So I’m fearful. I’m fearful that someday Google will decide that it no longer loves me. It will stop sending traffic my way, it will drop my rankings, it will block my access to more information and more data and it will charge me for what I’m currently getting for free. Can I survive the breakup?

Planning for a New World

My high school sweetheart broke up with me eventually. It was tough and there were tears involved. But I found a way to recover because there are “lots of fish in the sea.” In retrospect, I’m glad it happened because it taught me a good lesson and consequently I met my wife.

But what would happen if Google suddenly breaks up with me? There aren’t that many fish in that sea. What would I do if one day Google decides that it no longer loves me? Would I recover?

I started planning for my marketing world without Google and the future looked grim. More than 40 percent of my traffic, more than 15 percent of my leads, a significant amount of revenue will be gone. If Google, god forbids, breaks up with me tomorrow I’m in trouble.

All I’m left to do is to loudly confess my love, and then cross my fingers and pray to god that Google will love me back.

Google, I love you!

5 Tips for Diversifying Your Marketing Campaigns

  • Syndicate and promote your content everywhere. This is true not just to avoid the Google threat, but to make sure your content gets the most coverage.
  • Start using social media extensively. While social media is still only a fraction of total traffic and leads, it’s gaining momentum and becoming a true contender to search.
  • Directories, bylines, guest posts, referrals. Following organic search and direct traffic, web referrals accounted for a significant share of traffic to B2B websites. To diversify your marketing campaigns, focus on getting mentions, write guest posts, list your company in directories, get reviews and answer questions on Q&A sites (Quora).
  • Run paid campaigns. Yes, I know, we all love and believe in bringing in free traffic, but that doesn’t mean that we need to completely abandon outbound campaigns like email, display, PPC, direct mail, events, etc. In the pendulum of marketing tactics, we’re swinging back from inbound to outbound.
  • Keep your SEO running. Preparing for a world without Google’s love doesn’t mean that you don’t need to keep nurturing your current relationship with it. Keep your SEO running, and don’t forget that what you do for Google, also applies to Bing, Yahoo, and the rest of the irrelevant search engines.

About the author

Uri Bar-Joseph is Director of Marketing at Simply Measured, a social media measurement and analytics solution, where he leads the company's demand generation efforts. Previously, Uri worked for Optify, a marketing automation software company, where he built and managed its lead generation and lead nurturing processes, and developed the company's data-driven marketing approach.

Prior to Optify, Uri served over 9 years in the Israeli Defense Forces in various positions. He specializes in marketing strategy, demand generation and B2B marketing mechanics. He has a BA in Military History, Magna Cum Laude from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and MBA with honors from the University of Washington.