Can Google Update Itself Out of Business?

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By Jacob Maslow

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) regularly updates its main ranking software. The reason for this is that, when it adopts new improvements to its underlying technology, it updates the rankings of the websites that appear on its index. This might seem like a straightforward housekeeping routine for Google. Indeed, that is how Google gets its advertising traffic, by offering search results to its users. However, this is not a neutral and empty exercise. Google’s updates can mean the difference between life and death for many online businesses. There have many cases of online publishers that have completely been wiped out by a Google update.

In case you are unaware, Google had three major updates: Google Pigeon, Google Panda, and Google Penguin. All three updates have caused tremendous changes, whether for good or bad, for many online entrepreneurs. In fact, Google has been cranking up the speed at which it updates its ranking software. This opens up the question of whether or not Google can end up updating itself out of business.

Keep the following considerations in mind.

Online Content Is a Two-Way Street Between Search Engines and Publishers

It is very easy to look at Google as simply a gateway to content. It is easy to look at the websites that appear on Google as simply being lucky that Google’s algorithm favors them. This is not the case. You have to understand that Google is only in business based on the quality of the websites it can index.

If enough publishers get turned off by Google’s frequent mood swings, Google will have less and less quality to offer its users. It is a two-way street. It is not a take-it-or-leave-it deal from Google. If enough publishers refused to play, searching for content on Google will be a worthless experience.

Imposing Impossible Quality Standards Drives Publishers to Competitors

Google justifies its frequent software updates as a drive for quality. It talks a big game of looking out for the best interest of its users. While this may be true, the problem is that an increasing number of publishers are saying that Google’s quality standards are almost impossible. It continues to increase, and many of them feel that they just can’t keep up. Not surprisingly, many publishers are now focused on producing content to be indexed on Bing instead of Google.

Microsoft’s Golden opportunity: Clear Quality Content “Partnership” Standards

If Google continues to update its algorithm the same way, this opens up a tremendous opportunity for Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) . By being clear with potential content publishers who would want to appear on Bing, Microsoft could set up a platform that is easy to rank on. As long as the publishers can produce quality content that is predictable, Microsoft can establish a partnership where more and more publishers would publish for Bing instead of Google. Eventually, this might change the balance of power in the search engine space.

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