They say that many of the changes at Google in the last year or two are going to make the strong brands stronger, and the weaker brands into also-rans. This is the reverse of the “level playing field” which Google has offered in its first ten years, and potentially bad news for less well-known manufacturers. But don’t forget a “strong brand” at Google means a strong brand in terms of online presence, which is something that smaller companies still have a chance of influencing.
Something which is coming increasingly into play is “Google Suggest” – the feature where Google puts forward ideas, in real time, as you type something into its search box. This is thought to be massively influential. Imagine if you can get your company into this box, when people are just searching for generic product types?
It didn’t take me long to find an example. Renishaw is a well-known, UK-based encoder manufacturer. Go to Google, and start typing in “linear encoders”, as many potential customers might do. Here’s what happens:
…when you get as far as typing “linear enc”, Google is already giving you ten suggestions, of which nine are bang on target. Most people will just click on one of these, rather than type in the rest of the letters. And what do we see at the bottom of the list? The suggestion “linear encoder renishaw”.
How much is this worth? A lot. Of course, it will get a number of people clicking on the suggestion, which will lead them to this search results page and inevitably to Renishaw’s website. But perhaps even more importantly over the long term, it’ll be noticed by almost every searcher, and associate “Renishaw” with “linear encoder”. Pure branding gold.
You can’t buy, or probably even manipulate, this sort of thing. It can only be done by having a great online presence. I know the marketing team at Renishaw, and they’re one of the smartest in the business. I’m also proud to say they were one of our earliest Insider Programme members, although they were well on their way to success even before that. Building a great online presence is still possible, but the longer you leave it, the harder it will become.