One thing which Google has always had in the back of its mind is to provide an ‘alternative web’. Never forget that the search engine already has a copy of just about the entire public web. It’s available by clicking the little arrow next to any Google result.
For an increasing number of searches, Google is already scraping data from websites and presenting it to users so they don’t need to visit a particular website. Type in the name of a film on general release and you’ll get all the local showtimes presented to you, for example. Ask for a definition and you get one, lifted from somebody’s website without express permission.
There’s no doubt in my mind that if you type in the name of a business, Google would like to present you with an ‘alternative home page’ for that business. This would bring together fundamental information about that company, along with a range of resources not on the company’s website, such as its LinkedIn page. It’s already gone a long way towards doing that for large companies.
The Google+ system was a key component in this, but its failure to be enthusiastically taken up by companies has been a setback. That big information panel about a business is still largely driven by its Google+ page, but it’s clear that Google is going to have to go elsewhere to find the data it really wants. Companies just aren’t handing over the information as Google hoped.
Google Posts is something which we might hear more about in the future. You might see a comment box on the right on this search as an example. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that everyday businesses like our own might be offered this capability in the future. As with most things Google-related, it’s going to be hard to say no.