Beating The Unbeatable Google

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Topix CEO Rich Skrenta thinks someone out there can compete with Google, and he offered suggestions on how that might happen (hint: think vertically).


Beating The Unbeatable Google
Beating The Unbeatable Google
Who Can Compete with Google?

Choose your poison: Google in search or Google in advertising. If you’ve ever heard of the phrase "Hobson’s choice", picking a competitive ground with Google looks more like no choice at all.

Skrenta thinks differently, even though it was he who suggested Google is the environment a couple of months back. His most recent thoughts on beating Google read more like a primer of why it can’t be done head to head.

"A conventional attack against Google’s search product will fail," Skrenta said. "They are unassailable in their core domain."

Kind of tosses the ‘how to beat Google’ theme out the window straightaway.

"You need both a great product and a strong new brand," he writes. "Both are hard problems."

The shoemaker Nike demonstrated this. Over the years as Phil Knight and company built the brand, it took quite a while before they were confident enough to put the swoosh on their products like hats and shirts without the word ‘Nike’.

So you can’t beat Google on search. You can’t beat them on brand; Google is a dictionary word that to Internet users means search. It’s like traveling in the South and ordering a soda at lunchtime. Everything is a Coke, even if it’s a Sprite or a Mr. Pibb.

Where next? Skrenta suggested the vertical approach without coming out and calling it that:

You need to position your product to sub-segment the market and carve out a new niche. Or better, define an entirely new category. See Ries on how to launch a new brand into a market owned by a competitor. If it can be done in Ketchup or Shampoo, it can be done in search.

Google came about as many people sought to solve a great problem of the rapidly growing Internet with search. Once Google emerged by doing what people wanted – giving them a quality result immediately – most competitors fell by the wayside. Yahoo is the closest and they still trail Google by roughly 20 percent in the US search market.

That’s general web search. Vertical search has become a rising field; witness the heated competition and product launches in the local search segment alone. Healthcare stands out with sites like Kosmix and Healthline delving into quality resources for their search results.

That’s sub-segmenting the market. Skrenta nails the wisdom needed here by observing "The editorial value of search is in the index, not the interface." Google has proven that less is more with a minimalist approach.

Keeping that approach in mind goes along with Skrenta’s later points: users tend to want to type two words in a box, and they aren’t interested in fancy-schmancy "clusters, or tags, or categories, or directory tabs, or pulldowns. Ever."

Beating Google? Probably not going to happen right away. The winners in search will probably be the hyper-focused verticals, which makes sense. When creating an online business, entrepreneurs try to fill a niche. Search should work out the same way.


Beating The Unbeatable Google
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  • http://www.paraibainternational.com Tanzanite

    I believe Google is pretty much unbeatable at this point. They are simply too entrenched now.

  • http://www.tickethelp.com Traffic Tickets

    Has anyone checked out Mahalo?  Still rediculously small compared to Google, but a cool idea with a little bit of buzz.  I agree with the other comments that no matter how big Google seems, change is always inevitable.  No one thought Rome would fall but of course nothing lasts forever.

    With that being said, I think Googles KNOL project will help keep them where they are for a very long time.  Im not sure if they tried to buy Wiki, but this is definitely an offshoot of the idea.  Im surprised there isnt a "Google Dictionary"  – or is there? …

  • http://www.mothersfamilyrings.com Mother Pendant

    As soon as personalized search becomes more common-place, it will be even tougher to beat Google, because the results won’t be based at much just on Google as Google and the specific user.

  • http://www.clearporesreviews.net clearpores

    Looks like microsoft came out with their new browser to "defeat" google.. let’s see how that goes

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  • http://www.maas1.com ???

    My old man at home doesn’t know much about search engine, but he told me that Google can deliver precise results when he search for what he want as compare to Yahoo and MSN. :)

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    thanks for your article. Very help me. I will more like visit to webpronews site. :) Fantastic

  • http://www.gadgetsnall.co.uk Guest

    i look forward to the day when someone really does challenge google, not because i have an axe to grind other than the adwords programme but because when competition gets going then the consumer really benefits and at the moment google essentially is realistically unrivalled.


    Great article, thanks

  • http://www.seowebmarketing.co.uk Guest

    I absolutely luuuuuurve google and how clever their system is for finding the best results.  I think Yahoo! Directory and the search engines became a little complacent around the time of Google’s birth, hence the reason why Google did so well.  Instead of doing a job 75% they have, and still do, reach for the 100%, and have stored it all in searchable database in their "googol" formula.  Facebook (in the UK) and Bebo (both UK and USA) and MySpace (USA) are now clear competitors as users time shift towards social networking sites.  Funnily enough they are all powering the search on each one now!  The mobile social networking market is about to explode………Google is on it like a car bonet!  What with Google Maps, Google Business Applications, etc it won’t be long, surely, until Google creates the higher platform that will incorporate everything on the internet.  Very interesting article, thanx Web Pro News – kind regards, have a lovely day, Sue x 

    Freelance Google Expert


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  • http://randomplaza.com Richard Mongler

    I’ve seen google alternatives and they generally aren’t any better.

  • http://www.roof-cleaning-tampa.com Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa

    Google is like Wal Mart is.
    An American institution.
    n my humble opinion, if you want to gain substantial market share from any of the SE, the approach is to provide a better and innovative advertising monetization model. A better PPC with incentive to click, with 100% fraud free, with non-aggressive and a non-intrusive visitor (end-user) experience and where everyone gets something out of it. Where we grow a huge & accurate detailed DB of end-user records (they have good reason to register- you can be sure), where it unclutters websites and yet they can monetize nicely with cleaner look and useful offer. especially hot and attractive for community type sites and huge portals. and much more…

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