Will Google Ever Stop Dominating Search?

    April 4, 2013
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Google stock is currently taking a hit after reaching an all-time high last month. Any number of factors could be contributors to this, but some think it’s directly related to people’s decreased dependence on finding information with Google.

Can Google keep its edge in search for the long term? Let us know what you think.

Forbes, for example, has a piece out today called “Four Reasons Google’s Stock Is Slowing Down“. The first two reasons listed in this article are directly related to this issue: 1. Losing search market share and 2. Shift to mobile search.”

The author references a New York Times article making the rounds today, in which the case is made that people, particularly on mobile, are choosing other services first, based on the type of information they’re looking for.

“Say you need a latté. You might pull out your phone, open the Yelp app and search for a nearby cafe. If instead you want to buy an espresso machine, you will most likely tap Amazon.com,” writes the Times’ Claire Cain Miller. “Either way, Google lost a customer.”

This is a legitimate concern for Google. It’s been apparent, for years now, that any eventual decline in market share for Google would likely come at the hands of a combination of services chipping away at the need for consumers to rely upon one search engine for finding things. That is opposed to just switching search engines and using something like Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, etc.

Google itself has acknowledged this in the past, and even today, Google’s Adam Kovacevich shared the NYT article.

Of course it helps Google’s case against antitrust complaints when reports come out that suggest there is legitimate competition. The Times reported back in September that 1/3 of shopping searches start on Amazon vs. only 13% on general search engines. Kovacevich shared that too.

Interestingly, when Google’s stock hit an all-time high earlier this year, analysts chalked it up to optimism for Google’s core business and mobile apps. Yahoo Finance said the market is convinced that these have “many good years ahead of them.”

Still, the search landscape just isn’t what it used to be.

As Miller writes, “No longer do consumers want to search the Web like the index of a book — finding links at which a particular keyword appears. They expect new kinds of customized search, like that on topical sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor or Amazon, which are chipping away at Google’s hold. Google and its competitors are trying to develop the knowledge and comprehension to answer specific queries, not just point users in the right direction.”

That’s just a handful of the various services that are already replacing Google for certain types of searches for many consumers. There’s one app that just about everybody has on their smartphone, and it could potentially take an even bigger chunk out of Google’s mobile search share in time than some of these others.

Facebook Graph Search’s impact on consumer behavior has been underwhelming so far, but Facebook is pretty much keeping it that way so far. While the number has probably increased some by now, at last count, only about 0.09% of Facebook users even had Graph Search yet. Facebook was clear from the beginning that the roll out would be slow, and that many more features and capabilities would be added in the future. In short, Graph Search has nowhere to go but up. It will only get better and return results for more types of information.

As we’ve noted in the past, local search is one areas where Graph Search could make an immediate impact in the market. Interestingly, Facebook just renamed its “Nearby” feature on iOS to “Local Search”.

Not only has Graph Search not rolled out to the majority of Facebook users yet, but it has also not rolled out to mobile. Local search is all the more relevant when used from a mobile device, and that will be key for Facebook’s search offering once it finally does hit its mobile apps.

But its potential impact won’t be limited to local search. If Yelp can make a dent in Google’s market share from mobile for certain types of local searches, Facebook can surely make a dent across a broader spectrum of verticals (from both mobile and desktop). Graph Search recently has already started letting you search for things like movies “watched” by friends (or others), books “read” by friends or others, and TV shows “watched” by friends or others. That’s not just stuff people have “liked,” but stuff people have read and/or watched, regardless of whether or not they like them. Wondering whether or not you should watch “The Hobbit”? Search “my friends who have watched the hobbit” and ask them their opinions. You get the idea.

Graph Search

This is only going to expand to encompass more types of searches, and the more types of searches it works for, the more searches it can take away from Google. Is it going to replace Google in general? I’d say almost certainly not, but as a multitude of services chip away at Google’s searches, Facebook in particular is one of the few that has the potential to chip away at a bigger piece of the pie. Combined with the Amazon shopping searches alone, Google’s pie share could start looking a lot different.

The Times piece cites comScore data, saying that searches on traditional services (dominated by Google) declined 3% in the second half of last year after rising for years, while the number of searches per searcher declined 7%. Meanwhile, searches on vertical search engines increased 8%. Do you think this pattern is going to reverse anytime soon?

Will there come a time when the majority of searches aren’t performed using Google? Let us know what you think in the comments.

  • Conran

    It comes down to one fundamental fact – we have a warped sense of capitalism where anything but continued growth means a company is failing. Businesses spend far too much time, money and resources trying to be bigger, but there has to be a limit somewhere.

    A company cannot continue to grow forever, there has to be periods of stability and even decline. Any company that posts continued growth every single quarter is not sustainable in the long term.

    I guess it’s just greed. People always think that profit has to grow every year, but it’s a myth.

    I hope Google continues to decline. They are too powerful and control a monopoly. It’s about time there were other competitors taking a share, and thereby making the entire WWW more stable and more fair for everyone.

    Lets hope Google keeps making more and more mistakes and misjudging their own audience. They’ve made a lot of big mistakes recently, and they haven’t fixed them. The result of that is more searchers moving to their competition!

  • Randy Fox

    Google has become a Neo-Fascist entity that is more political than informative. They hijack small business. They can’t seem to get places for business right always screwing up and still they want you to buy adwords and such! I would never give Google a penny. Google is a big non caring bully. They cheat on taxes and hide income offshore. I hope they get what they deserve!

    • http://www.twittvillage.com gio

      i agree with you 100%….looking forward to seeing the day they..start losing market big time…

  • PP

    Google control too much who can be on the web or not (or similar with SEO).
    Its time for counsumers and small and mid companies to get their real parts for their gard works and stop google with their mathematcal combination to drop PR from sites not know by them and boost others paying money to them.

    Google is what we decide they are. If we decide we not need it or want to move on something more valuable to us, then google will simply disapears as fast as they came.

    Personnaly I hoipe so, google gad his time, now like any market in North america it is time to give to another his chance.

    this is the right to a good and fair competion and everyone should have it to prove what they can do better and provide the service.

  • http://www.sbwebcenter.com Steve

    I don’t think their dominance in the search market will change anytime soon. As long as they don’t lose focus of their users, they’ll lead for a long time to come.

  • John Zohon

    It’s tough times when a webmaster turns to and recommends yahoo over google. Anymore though that’s what it is. I’ve seen several high-quality high-cholesterol websites placement in serps plummet while others barely meet the search criteria receive top placements.

    @Google: Click “Manage Panda” > Click “Uninstall” > Click “Yes”;
    … watch your profits soar like a bad search result…

  • http://www.rankwatch.com Rank Watch

    Google is certainly the industry leader in search and cant even imagine anyone beating Google on both desktop and mobile search for the next 10 years. Its just that they might lose the share to some mobile apps or on some vertical searches. What these big companies do very well is they acquire the potential businesses whom they think might give them a tough run for their money in the future and acquire some market share through them.

  • http://coinsandmoreonline.com Bill

    Like all the search engines before it, Google will remain relevant as long as they offer better search results than the competition (or at least “good enough” results). Google is a verb used on TV shows.

    As Google is guided more by stockholders that have one thing in mind (the stock price), you can see the quality of results going down. The recent move to drop the RSS reader is another sympton of this trend. Forget building infrastructure you can hang products on. If it doesn’t make money today, it isn’t worth doing.

  • John

    Search for products on Google is now dominated by page after page of Wall Mart,Amazon Overstock and Target….. A good search engine that goes back to something fair will have millions of niche site owners supporting it. We pay for the web

  • http://www.brightermedia.co.uk Emily

    I share the opinion that google’s constant algorithm tweaking is actually producing very poor results, particularly for local search queries. For example, in several searches I’ve done recently google is ranking lower page ranked sites that are not optimised as well as better, more established sites. For example, for “london photographer” they seem to be penalising better quality/higher PR sites, they are ranking trade associations and equipment stores above photographers, and those with google+ are not getting any benefit.

    Sites that are producing lots of content are being favoured heavily: as though tonnes of blog articles are somehow an intrinsic measure of quality! If this is really is one of their key measures for how good a site is then they are seriously off. Added to that sites that aren’t doing well on google local or even have google + are doing better than those that have made the effort.

    I use google by default, mostly for work / seo placement queries.

    I think I’m now going to switch to yahoo and bing for local results because google’s are all over the place. Trying to be too clever by half and forgetting the key about what people want from local search: quality businesses, relevant results.

  • http://twitter.com/EncoreServices1 Kevin

    I wouldn’t bank on Google disappearing from the top slot any time soon. They play a very long game (see G+) in everything they do. If they see something they can’t do better they buy (e.g. Frommers) whilst beavering away quietly in the background on other areas (e.g. Hotel Finder). The changing nature of the internet into a less-fun corporate arena managed by lawyers and accountants just means Google readjusting to do what we all do… survive.

  • http://linkedin.com/in/brofarops Dr. Robert

    I MYSELF: See Google continuosly hurting Google. Everytime Google has a good product they pull it: GoogleConnections, GoogleLabs, IGoogle, and others. Then we get to Search were they, Google, launched Algorythms Penquin and Panda 2 years ago and knocked the heck out of website rankings and visibility. Many good sites fell off the radar / from Pages 1 to 3 to further back, as Google refreshes these algos. Many are still wondering what happened. With Google switching GooglePlaces to GoogleLocal I see more problems as SEOs scramble… I do see many of my associates moving away to Yahoo, Bing, and other Search Engines due to Google changes. The Giant may be growing to other countries but as to popularity I strongly believe it is failing. Thank You.

  • http://www.adovationz.co.nz Digby Geen

    I think Facebook will start to eat their lunch as less people use desktops now.

    All the young ones are on Facebook.

  • DomiChi

    We can see on Youtube belonging to Google that they supress video which are contrary to their interest. What about search?
    If the do censorship that can be their death.

  • http://www.destindirect.com gary redden

    Only if they embrace specialized, human powered directories and integrate them into their overall information gathering process. Some of these sites are developing significant brand recognition and users navigate directly to them bypassing search engins altogether. As this trend continues traditional search will likely loose market share.

    I would not be surprised to see acquisitions in this area.

  • http://www.industrialcostanalysis.com Walt O’Brien

    It depends on one’s market placement. Neither Google nor Bing are used by me, as my market placement is the developing world. I use 15-20 regional search engine providers which may be run out a grass and mud hut with a Honda generator driving their RAID units, but these small Indian, Malayan, and Middle Eastern SE providers kick serious butt.

    Google? I get 2-3 hits a month from them. Bing keeps sending me these “warning” messages about why don’t I have their digital doodad tracker script in my homepage files with my ISP and that I must insert it immediately LOL. Like MicroSoft was my mother or something. Blank them.

  • http://webenso.com Kathy Alice

    Coincidentally, I just wrote a blog post last week entitled “Will Google Search be Relevant in 5 years?” where I make similar points to this article. We are seeing the rise of “destination sites” that for specific searches, you use those sites’ search functionality rather than searching on Google, because the results are more relevant, and possibly more trustworthy – fragmenting the search landscape.

    And just for fun, I asked someone not in the technology field a few days ago where she would search for “printer ink” and she answered “Amazon”, so Amazon is definitely is making inroads into the shopping searches as this article states.

    With its complicated algorithm and periodic upheavals Google has made it hard for some businesses to do well in organic SEO. And they appear to be favoring the bigger brands as one commenter as already noted. Compare this to getting your product/book to rank within Amazon search – it’s a lot more straightforward.

    One disruption I see coming is a viable social search. It might be Facebook’s Graph Search or it might be something else – but regardless – I believe it’s just a matter of time before we will have that as an alternative to some queries.

  • John

    Honestly, who cares? It’s the market that makes the web what it is. Not Google trying to take it over with its flawed interpretations on what sites are deemed as “good”.

  • http://www.graciousstore.com Nina

    Kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall. Google will not forever remain the dominate search engine. Man is always evolving and hatching out new ideas, sometime someday, there will be another search engine that will provide more features than Google currently offers and people will flock to that search engine. That will not be a surprise but something that is expected to happen someday

    • http://www.twittvillage.com gio

      There are a bounch of guys fighting the search monopoly of google….i am one of these guys ….www.twittvillage.com

      since i created twittvillage.com i sjust use google to search some stuff….for the rest …..someone like me can make it….google’s results are terribly static and often repetitives..old photos and videos….google result page layout is also terribly ugly…with tons of useless links …..guys like me (twittvillage.com) will , within a couple of years, stop google’s search monopoly…..twittvillage.com gives twitter based realtime information…while google’s database is terribly static….make the same search 10 times on google …and you will get the same results…try on twitter and on twittvillage.com and you will get new stuff for each search…the other traditional search engines…are more less the same….static….watch out for guys like me (twittvillage.com)…..people love images, video , realtime…and democracy…..i am sure this is the future of search ….google for generic searches and sites like twittvillage.com for special and more fun searches…the future is already here…..watch out google and yahoo…..giovanni domilici

  • http://cubeworx.net adi t

    well, it’s natural that products and services will definitely drive the market share. You cannot just look from the market share and / or money perspective. If you’re money addicted, I can understand that. But usually people do not search for things, or look for items, thinking they will boost this or that company’s market share. This is how this article was written, and it’s understandable because it comes from an american thinking person, America being built on money and only money. The concept of business comes from the States.

    But if you look from the perspective of “i work good i make money” instead of “i make money to make money business kinda type” you will see the goods companies bring. Be it a nicer search, be it mobile share of new ideeas, be it other ideeas that prevail Google’s, the point is we need to talk about what’s important. The new features on the web be it mobile or not. We should not care if Google gets less 0.005 cents because some new good ideea emerged from other little companies or big companies.

  • Chris Smith

    do you have an article in the Google submission changes of Froogle?
    Thank you in advance.

  • http://www.blueflux.eu Martin Hookem

    Is there really going to be that many people who search for a place to have a coffee?
    l think that’s a fairly limited market, not accounting for tourism.
    The idea of somebody walking around during a shopping trip with no idea what they went for in the first place is also fairly limited.
    l guess it’s the matter of whether having mobiles can actually change peoples shopping habits over time.
    l know if l kept getting notifications from shops while I’m shopping would get a bit much. If I’m looking for what l usually do when l go to town, l know which shops to head for.
    And I’d rather look for myself. Has anyone been to Egypt and walked the gauntlet when you’re approaching the next temple? OMG!

    ‘No l don’t want that, no thanks, no! l said no..’

    Only another 50 more stall owners to fight through before l reach the temple!

  • Paddy_O_Door

    A temporary drop in stock price isn’t doomsday for Google. Maybe it’s a relatively harmless wake up call that they need to improve some of there business operations.

    The inventor of the car didn’t go on to be the most successful mass producer: in the USA, that innovation went to Ford and GM. Decades later, those brands are still relevant but have stiff competition from Toyota, Hyundai, and Kia; not to mention niche companies like Tesla and Saturn.

    Google won’t go the way of AltaVista but it might not maintain a stranglehold on search, either. That will make SEO work difficult in the short run as we all market to rising search powers until another leader emerges and we focus (mostly) on it.

  • http://www.dogsshop.org Danny

    Chris, there is a large shift towards mobile apps, and as others have mentioned, far more people doing more things via Facebook…

    Google will probably lose a few slices of the pie over the coming years, unless they can purchase the entire pie shop…..which is not on the cards…..

  • http://internetmarketerdotcom.com/ InternetMarketerDotCom

    No, I don’t believe this pattern is going to reverse anytime soon. Bring on Facebook, Amazon and others. I look forward to them taking a chunk of the pie where Google has had the greater portion for so long. It’s time other web companies give them a run for the money and even the playing field. Google search has flaws. They can tighten up their search engine results all they want and still have many flaws. This is why they had to hire many human reviewers to do what their algorithms couldn’t do.

  • http://www.lerentech.com Web Design Syracuse

    Amazon Prime may be a big reason why people start their searching and shopping on Amazon. As a Prime customer, I know that if I get it there it’s possible I get it with free shipping and in 2 days, that’s HUGE. I also know they have a giant selection with many sellers and great pricing. I have slowly switched from going to Google first for everything, to going to Amazon first for online purchases. Social will also play a big role in how people find information online. Our friends and networks heavily influence our decisions, purchases and behavior.

  • http://www.quantisoft.com Howard Deutsch

    Google will stop dominating search only when companies like Microsoft start to really compete. Microsoft has the best search engine, Bing. Google’s continuous manipulation of its search algorithms with changes like Penguin and Panda will continue to ensure that Bing is better. Microsoft has to do a better job of making people aware of the superiority of Bing over Google. When they do, Google will start to lose its dominance in search.