In the world of search there are always whispers of the demise of Google as the king of the search. Apparently, Google hasn't been listening.
Every time a new search engine is launched (see Cuil, Wolfram|Alpha and Blekko) there is speculation that it will end the dominance of the search giant. Social sites like Facebook and Twitter hope that as the world becomes more social and people share information with their friends.
But my thoughts are that Google could be its own killer.
Do No Evil Some Shopping
That fast simple engine that once spelled doom for Yahoo (remember the days before Google?) has turned into more of a "big brother" super power shifting to meet what it thinks each user is about to want. It seems lately that every day we are seeing new versions of results -- and I'm not talking about the native search results.
Why the changes you ask? Well the economic downturn has hit the giant too. Just like some people may have gotten used to a higher level of income due to consistent overtime at work, Google was spending based on an outrageous stream of revenue from Pay Per Click advertising. When the recession hit, companies that had viewed PPC expenses as good advertising had to either find a different method to get found by customers or close their doors. The reason is simple. When you income suffers you don't stop shopping, you just stop buying. PPC in essence pays people to "shop" regardless of whether they actually purchase anything.
These changes may provide Google with improved revenue, but could there come a point when people start to associate the engine with buying information or location information more than pure search results?
As Google pushes out Places pages, reviews, and ratings in front of search results people are beginning to feel cluttered. With television shows like "Hoarders" we are being reminded that "Too Much" isn't good.
Check out the search below for [computers] and see if you can pick out the actual search results minus all the intuitive advice.
What happened to the Wikipedia listing telling us about the invention of the invention of the personal computer? Where is plain old information without a sales pitch? I know it's the shopping season but that isn't all we're thinking about when we use their engine.
If the show "Hoarders" has taught us anything it's that too much of a good thing is still too much. Google's constant barrage of what it refers to as "Enhanced User Experience" is rapidly falling in to that category.
Yes, as humans we are impatient by nature and we want everything to happen quickly. But there is a difference between "give me what I'm asking for fast" and "give me your personal favorites fast". Google gained its market share from its simplicity and uncluttered search results. Yet now it appears Google has forgotten that goal.
Google has to be careful they don't go too far, too fast. Searchers are fickle people. Just ask Yahoo.