Guestpost Kevin Gibbons: Is Google's competition hotting up?

Mon 11 January 2010 11:00, Bas van den Beld

Guestpost Kevin Gibbons: Is Google's competition hotting up?

Kevin is one of my 'collegues' at Searchengineland and when we talked at the last A4U Expo there was no doubt in either of our minds that sooner or later Kevin would write a guestpost for Searchcowboys. And in this series he lives up to the expectations!

His post "2010: Is Google's competition hotting up in 2010?" is an absolute big one. He looks forward to all different (potential) big things. Off course he looks at Google and Bing and Social Media can't miss out in his prediction for 2010.

2010: Is Google's competition hotting up in 2010?

Another year - in fact, another decade - is upon us, but what will it mean for the search industry and online marketing as a whole in 2010?


Image credit: Flickr

Thanks to the huge blogging culture within our sector, there’s certainly no shortage of predictions and New Year’s resolutions to follow over the next 12 months. Everyone has an opinion on what will develop and I’ve recently commented myself on the significant events of 2009.

Changing times at Google
In 2009 Google have rolled out a lot of changes to try and keep ahead of the game, looking to maintain and improve their huge market share in search across the globe. But it’s not just algorithm updates (such as page speed, Vince etc) - the move into social media with real-time/social search and Google Wave are going to be very interesting to watch develop during the next 12 months.

I suppose the most important thing to remember is that search is such a fast-paced industry. Things change, challenges mutate, and techniques and tactics develop. Whatever I predict and whatever the best practice we follow at SEOptimise, this could all change with just a few tweaks to Google’s algorithm or a shift towards a new online social platform. That’s why SEO is such an exciting industry in which to work.

So here are my predictions, but the best advice I can offer is to keep a weather eye on the horizon. A lot can change in a mere 12 months.

The most significant news last year was the Microsoft/Yahoo deal. For a long time Microsoft have been too far behind Google in search, this is now a key focus for them and they’ve certainly got the funds to back it! So I believe that 2010 will see some serious challenges emerge for Google.

This could make a real difference to SEO as the industry has undoubtedly been heavily focused on Google for many years now. Optimising for Google, Yahoo and Microsoft has in many cases not been worth the effort, but by merging Microsoft and Yahoo’s market share, Bing could quickly start to be taken more seriously.

I don’t expect this will be an overnight development (the roll-out will take long enough itself) but, by the end of the year, I believe we’ll see emerging changes in advertising models.

Microsoft adCenter
Although some serious competition among search engines should, in theory, help lower PPC prices, I expect we will actually see them rise over the next 12 months. However, budgets will be more carefully targeted and so more useful to the businesses.

Also, unless we see a double-dip recession, which I don’t think is very likely, I expect there will be sustained but minor economic growth during 2010. However, as companies continue to try and do more with less, I believe there will be stronger growth within SEO, as well as other online marketing and PR businesses. This could work in the favour of Microsoft, with advertisers allocating additional paid search budget towards adCenter – as opposed to putting all their eggs in one basket with Google.

In my opinion Yahoo Search Marketing and Microsoft adCenter have suffered in the past by having a similar, low market share – and it can be difficult for marketers to justify the effort in setting up and managing campaigns across three different platforms. However, having a second platform which combines the market share of both could see a significant switch towards advertisers opting for an additional PPC campaign.

Social Media – Facebook/Twitter/Google Wave
Social media is clearly an area which Google are keen to explore more. They obviously bought YouTube in 2006 but in recent years have missed out on many sites they were reported to be interested in - such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace.

Instead they’ve gone down the route of creating their own social networking site; Google Wave. At the moment it’s unclear how popular this will become, having only been launched in beta towards the end of 2009.

What makes Twitter and Facebook so popular is the number of people who are using and talking about the sites. When you didn’t know anyone using Twitter or on Facebook there was no real urge to signup, so it takes time to build up a strong user base and get people using the site regularly – Google Wave may get there, but it’s unlikely to rival the top sites on the web in the short-term.

And as always there’s likely to be a new rising star in social media and I expect 2010 will see its fair share of newly popular platforms and rapidly fading sites. I’m very confident there will be a real increase in Twitter business accounts as more organisations seek to cash in on an incredibly useful way to interact with customers.

So what do you think?
I’m sure Google are more than aware of everything that is going on around them and have plenty more tricks up there sleeve for 2010. But after an extremely eventful 2009, it’s going to be very interesting seeing the impact of these changes and finding out what’s in store for 2010!

About Kevin:

"Kevin Gibbons is founder and Director of Search at UK search marketing agency SEOptimise. He has specialised in search engine marketing since 2003 and oversees the strategy of SEO, PPC and social media projects. Kevin also frequently blogs at Searchengineland, SEOptimise and Econsultancy."

Kevin can be found:

On Twitter
On his website
On Google

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