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A tricky outlook for Google

If you’d been given ‘existential crisis at Google’ on your online marketing bingo card for 2023, you’d probably have been a little underwhelmed. However, things are looking increasingly tricky for the search giant, and it’s not receiving much praise for its response to the technology changes we’ve seen over the past few months.

I’d have thought that Google would want to keep its users close – and by that, I don’t mean the execs who sign the advertising cheques at multinational corporations, but the millions of people who get paid for dealing with the company’s products on a daily basis. However, I’ve rarely read so much grumbling about how it’s treating small advertisers and SEO professionals, not to mention search users themselves.

Rewriting history?

Here’s a tiny point, but an illustrative one. An SEO discussion I read over the weekend (no, I don’t have a life) was  – understandably – moaning that Google had updated the list of ‘ranking systems’ that it publishes, removing references to four ranking systems. These weren’t obscure items; they were the page experience, mobile-friendly ranking, page speed, and secure sites systems. Do these not count any more? Did they ever? There’s a lot of debate going on, and although few SEO experts seem to be claiming that they must have wasted their time in the past, one or two are wondering out loud what it was all about. (The current guide is here, by the way). Google, of course, cares not a bit.

Over the years, I’ve always considered Google to be a company with a fantastic core product (a search engine funded by advertising), but no idea how to interact with – let alone look after – its customers. This inability is cultural and runs far too deep to change now. Despite this, in tech company terms, it’s had a long run, thanks to a lack of serious competition. I wonder where we’ll be when next year’s bingo card is revealed?