What next for Google?

Published in Internet | 10 minute read | Permalink

It’s been one of those slow weekends where I spent a lot of time playing with search engines and wondering what’s coming around the corner for us in the world of search.

We’ve often had clients report to us that they have ‘disappeared’ or ‘de-ranked’ in search results suddently and mysteriously. Usually this can be explained by their just as sudden and mysterious return to the listings a few days later – following one of Google’s huge six monthly index clear outs.

But this one problem seemed to be centred on our client receiving odd results and varying results for the same search terms run on different computers with different OS’s. After a little digging it soon ocurred to me that they were running those searches on one computer whilst signed into Google and on another computer when not signed in. Interesting I thought – why would results vary?

Then I remembered a presentation I did at the Harrogate Digitial launch in 2004 where I talked about the next obvious thing in search – ‘personalised search’. It seems to me (as a Software Engineer) that if you want to give someone better results in a search, then being able to refer to previous searches is key to ensuring the quality of future searches.

This seemed to be the case with our client. Search for their products whilst logged into their Google account and they listed consistently in position 3 page 1. But log-out and they dropped to position 6 page 1. Seems personalised search has got a lot to answer for and I’ll be explaining about this to my client tomorrow.

However, it got me thinking. Here’s a possible revenue stream for Google (like they needed another one). Allow users of Google to register for two types of account – Premium or Community. With a Premium account, you pay a monthly fee, say $20 and get better search results than the free Community account which comes with the same low quality results we currently experience on the majority of searches. Dare I say it, the Premium account would have an add-on – no AdWords – music to my ears.

The Premium account would be aimed at Corporate’s, Universities and Researchers wanting to reduce the amount of time they spend searching – $20 a month – money well spent if you fit into one of the categories above and hours of wasted time reclaimed. At least that’s the theory, soon most individuals would want better results too and wouldn’t settle for a Community account.

In one fell swoop Google would shake up the search market by offering a tiered service aimed at all comers. New revenue for Google would keep the share price in the right place and delay the effects of reducing ad revenues as a proportion of overall searches in the long term (something that’s going to become inevitable in my view).

Remember folks, when you’re signing up for that Google Premium account you read about it here first.