Businesses warned to brace for Google billboard

Published: Mon 22 Jul 2019 08:30 AM
Businesses need to begin thinking about how to survive in a world where having an Internet presence is expensive, and ‘free’ exposure will disappear altogether – but it’s a development that may reinvigorate investment in traditional media outlets.
CEO of Auckland digital marketing agency Insight Online, Kim Voon, said Google’s monetisation of the Internet has been subtle but already so-called organic listings have been pushed down ‘below the fold’ on search results pages because Google wants to keep you on Google.
Any significant presence on Google will need to be paid, effectively turning the search engine into a giant billboard.
“Ask a question of Google, and your search page will be dominated by advertising, ‘featured snippets’ and ‘micro-moments’. These are chunks of information that answer your questions, so you don’t have to leave the Google search page – if there is no need to leave the Google search page to get the answers you want, Google makes more money from its advertising.
“The moment you click through to a web page, Google stops earning revenue. It’s also worth noting that Google provides its answers in snippets taken from actual websites, but the owners of that copyright aren’t remunerated in any way,” Voon said.
He believes this type of development may result in people heading directly to news and media sites for useful quality information they can trust, rather than wading through the mostly paid content Google throws up.
“Google, Facebook and YouTube have to report results every quarter. These companies are already huge, but they have to show growth to shareholders, so they’re squeezing out the natural or organic search results (which are free) to keep making money.
“Increasingly, businesses have to pay to get their content seen, which impacts the trust factor. On Facebook, only two or three per cent of your network will see your post unless you pay.”
Voon said consumers would have to fight through a lot more advertising.
“If you are not paying for information or a presence, you are very likely the product up for sale. Very little is free anymore.
“Internet usage has slowed and is reaching a saturation point in some parts of the world. This leaves the tech giants with a growth challenge, so they have no choice but to monetise every aspect of the Internet.”
He offers the following tips on how to survive a user pays Internet:
Spend smarter
“Getting good search engine rankings for your business has always taken work and money, so that’s nothing new. It is, however, only going to get more expensive, and that means being smarter about how you invest your money.
“Measure success against sales and customer acquisition. Nothing else counts.”
Voon says Google’s push to have all information readily available on the search page keeps people on Google to the extent that most may never have to click through to your website to get the answers they want.
“Diversify your channels. Of course, it is still critical to advertise on Google, and it will certainly yield customers, especially if you are business to consumer. But you’re going to have to diversify your presence across more trusted channels, like the mainstream news media sites.”
Publish better content
Voon said that if you have to pay to get your content seen, you owe it to yourself to make sure your content is top quality.
“Put effort into your content and the people who do find you will keep coming back. This requires a sound market strategy using every tool at your disposal, from video and re-marketing to Google Ads and inbound strategy.
“Returning consumers of your content are low cost compared to the cost of acquiring new traffic,” Voon said.
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