This week Google celebrates its 25 year-birthday and during that period the company has grown into a juggernaut that knows and stores everything about us, and is present everywhere. In a series of articles, we will discuss the power of Google, the success factors, the growing criticism and Google’s prospects for the coming years.
• Part 1 of this series answered the question of how Google grew into the dominant company it is today.
Part 2 of this series will further explore the invisible influence Google has.
Google is of course most visible on the internet with its search engine. After all, Google’s great promise was to collect all the world’s information and make it easily searchable. Now Google determines how information is distributed, how it is found and how it is presented to users. Only Google knows exactly how the search engine works and what the search algorithm takes into account.
Google Search is so useful and so ubiquitous that the way Google searches and presents data affects everything you can find on the Internet today. Over the past quarter century, an enormous amount of information has been posted on the Internet aimed at ranking better in Google’s results.
Easily understood by Google
Almost everything on the Internet (every website, every article, every info box) is designed to be easy for Google to understand. And in many cases, the Internet is now better analyzed by search engines than by humans. Our information ecosystem is defined by the needs of the Google search engine.
For example, the recipe blogs all contain 2000 words of text before the actual recipe starts, because the Google robot wants it that way. That is why every publisher places a biography of the author next to the author’s name. And all those bold subtitles in the middle of articles asking random questions? These are shown there because this is how Google answers these questions on the search results page.
The Dark Side of Success: Dangers and Challenges for Google Search
The enormous success of Google Search has a number of downsides, which can also be threatening for Google itself. Google Search faces a number of dangers and challenges that could pose an existential threat to Google.
Firstly, there is the danger that websites and texts that are made to be easily searchable by Google robots become increasingly less readable for real users. The Web is starting to look more like a structured database for search than something built for real people. Searching the Internet for good and reliable information is becoming increasingly difficult for the user. AI-generated content, focused on commonly used search terms, is taking up more and more space on the internet; It is not yet possible to predict how Google will respond to this.
Related to this is the second problem, which is that if the quality of Google Search continues to decline, people will switch to better alternatives. The tens of billions that Google pays annually to manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung to be the default search engine on phones will then increasingly weigh on Google’s budget, while the lucrative advertising market declines.
New ways to search
And then there’s the toughest challenge of all: as AI makes searching the internet easier and easier, providing instant answers to questions without referring to the pages where more information can be found, Google must come up with an entirely new product or a meaningful replacement. The big challenge for the company will be to improve information search while maintaining the ability to continue serving lucrative advertisements. Searching and finding information is Google’s core business, but the advertising market is the most profitable. And the challenge for Google will be to find the best combination of the two if it wants to maintain its position.