Experts View 2011: Do you think a viable competitor to Google will emerge in 2011?

by Peter Young on January 5, 2011 · 16 comments

Its the start of a bright new year, and rather than give you my personal thoughts on what I thought the new year holds, I thought I would get a couple of friends to join me in sharing their thoughts and opinions on what the new year holds. Due to the sheer nature of the beast, we have broken these down to a regular series of posts which we will be releasing over the coming days.

To get a more holistic picture I asked a number of people from across the search spectrum to get involved including:

  • Shaun Anderson – HoboWeb – The most influential SEO in the UK according to a recent poll on Holistic Search and the Telegraph (the Greenock Telegraph that is)
  • Paul Reilly – Now Search Director for Mydestinationinfo.com however met him during his days at StickyEyes and have always enjoyed hearing his opinions and thoughts on SEO and the sector as a whole
  • Nichola Stott – the Media Flow – Nichola spoke at our recent Sascon Manchester SEO event and as well as being one of the most intelligent people I know is also one of the best laughs
  • Ben Bisco – Brilliant Media – My colleague at Brilliant – however hugely knowledgable and a laf to boot
  • Andy Redfern – Hitsearch – Someone I have known round the digital scene for a while and MD of search agency Hitsearch.
  • Judith Lewis – Well respected in the industry and conference scene, and highly talented to boot.
  • Andy Beard – Where do I start, Andy wows me with some of his comments during the Dojo chats, and talks in a language few dare to speak. Highly respected in the industry and very pleased to have him involved
  • and last but certainly by no means least David Harry – someone who I was very pleased to have involved in this post – founder of the SEO Dojo and Search News Central. Hugely knowledgable – and one of the people I personally have learnt a hell of a lot of this year.

Do you think a viable competitor to Google will emerge in 2011?

David Harry

And then there were 2. Yup, we lost Yahoo last year so it’s just MS (Bing) left in the game. Unfortunately they will have to do something pretty innovative to make any inroads as far as I see it. Or Google will have to falter in some way. Throwing money at the marketing dept. just doesn’t seem to be cutting it. Will we see someone out of the blue show up and take a chunk of the search market? Not bloody likely. I suppose MS’ relationship with FaceBook might turn into their biggest asset in the search and social game. We shall see…

Ben Bisco

I don’t think there will be a competitor in the traditional search space. Instead, we should think about how search may evolve and look for competitors there.

For instance, Facebook. Google are obviously twitchy about them and this is ostensibly because they trumped Google on traffic and have a more interesting display offering. However, more scary for Google is what would happen if FB strayed towards search territory. We have already seen a tendency for consumers to turn to FB for answers and it the information contained within Facebook is becoming increasingly varied (company pages, fan pages, interest groups etc. And have you noticed how Wikipedia information pages are making an appearance?) so this isn’t that far-fetched.

Also, the growth of really clever remarketing technology using intelligent attribution modelling (Ad Exchanges and Demand Side Platforms etc) will mean that Display has the potential emerge as one of the best ways to reach consumers when they are in the market to buy specific products.

These aren’t so much competitors to Google, as competitors to Search as a whole. I’m not sure what this will mean for search specialists, but it’s great news for us as an integrated agency.

Paul Reilly:

Google own Search, and I don’t believe they will be beaten although the alliance between Yahoo and Bing have made “advertising elsewhere” much more palatable, I do however believe the we’re now in the dusk of the Search Era at least in the sense we’ve know it to date, and I also believe that the dawn of the era of discover is well and truly upon us.

How well Google fair in these new days is likely to depend on how they position themselves over the coming months. They’re already in a very enviable position with Android and are clearly winning the smart phone war, you could argue that they are well positioned to dominate location and hyper local due to the integration with Maps, Latitude and Places.

In terms of threats to Google, Facebook is an obvious one, but we’re living in accelerating times and there’s nothing to stop a threat from gaining adoption from absolutely nowhere and throwing the online world a curve ball.

Nichola Stott

Nope. Not in 2011.

Judith Lewis

Yes and no. I think Bing is a seriously good search engine in the US but it rather sucks in the UK (sorry Bing). I feel if Bing could roll-out world-wide the kind of valuable data in search that it has in the US it could become a contender but unless you start looking at search volumes in Facebook I don’t think 2011 will be the turning point for Google.

Andy Beard

Yep… it is called Google – they are their own enemy now.

Andy Redfern

A viable competitor to Google core search function? No – but in other areas like mobile search, news aggregation, PPC, local advertising will all face increased competition. Google has competitors on many fronts and whilst Google is looking to grow the “mobile” arm of its business in a growing market – other areas will no doubt lose focus. I predict that Google will remain the dominant search engine in the UK (Predictable, Never!) , although Bing and Yahoo will claw back up to 2% of the market share through the course of the year.

Shaun Anderson

Facebook is obviously a big question mark – what FB does this year will probably impact search in a big way but I actually think people are going to get annoyed very quickly with Facebook – I know I am – perhaps falling out of love with it in 2011/2012 because of privacy issues etc. I think Google is the most valuable traffic in the world for the types of clients I work for, and I’d be surprised to see that changing much in 2011. There are other ways of driving traffic to a site, but for me, the main focus for most businesses in 2011 should be and will be Google. I will compliment that by using Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin – oh and Bing.

Peter Young

In my opinion, no. We may however start to see the likes of Bing start to take an increasing stake out of the Google market share both here and across the pond however at this stage Google are still in control of their own destiny to a certain extent. Google’s main concern however will be to see search market share translate into domination elsewhere – perhaps mobile, social or TV. The spectre of Facebook still looms large however I can’t help thinking some further form of consolidation with the likes of Bing may see greater breakthrough within the industry.

Google+ Comments

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Matthew Diehl January 5, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Thanks for sharing the insights from such brilliant folks.

I think Bing is on a path that potentially by 2015 (imo) they might be considered a significant threat to Google. Steadily over the next 4 – 5 years Bing will need to continue eating away at the Google market share, fractions of a percent add up over time.

Or, it will take some major screw ups by Google to turn users off to their service, like major privacy issues, relevancy degradation, miserable UI updates.

But, 2011 is not a the year in which Google will be dethroned.

Peter Young January 5, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Thanks Matt. Completely agree. It really is difficult to see anybody making any significant cut through during the coming 12 months without something DRASTIC happening

Doc Sheldon January 5, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Good read, Peter. I agree that unless Google manages to REALLY fall flat on their corporate face, it’s pretty unlikely that their market share will change dramatically.

I think Ben hit it square on the head, about search evolving into something different than we’re accustomed to. We’re already seeing some of that, and I suspect it’s only just begun.

Of course, if Google ever falls prey to a government-forced breakup, all bets might be off.

Peter Young January 5, 2011 at 9:57 pm

I think its going to be an interesting year for sure. The ITA deal is still not confirmed and the impending uncertainty in certain markets may still cause them problems.

Dont think we will see massive shifts but its certainly going to be interesting to watch in my opinion

Dejan January 6, 2011 at 3:40 pm

It would take for something extraordinary and well-built to shake down Google of their position. Keep in mind these things can happen any time and when they do it will be suddenly and unexpected.

Gamma Tim January 7, 2011 at 4:32 pm

I think it has already happened with Facebook in 2010. This year Google will become more “social,” and Facebook will market itself more as a trusted search application. Facebook has what Bing doesn’t….traffic to compete with Google.

Rafael Rez Oliveira January 11, 2011 at 5:16 pm

I agree with Matthew: “But, 2011 is not a the year in which Google will be dethroned.”

Blekko (until now) is something that works for tech people and would take too many years to be as simple as needed to succeed.

Now that Yahoo! is past, the MS growth with it’s partnership with Facebook is the only way to take more share in the next 2 years, just because Facebook, not MS.

It’s almost hopeless to see anything new soon.

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