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Is it time to move on from Google?

     
9:06 pm on Jul 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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With Google results not poorer than ever due to brand domination, ROI on advertising at all time lows, I ask a simple question :

Is it time to move on from Google?

Yandex has been quietly busy building an English search engine in the Netherlands and Bing well I think they're doing their best, both have their faults but they don't show brands repeatedly in their SERPS and maybe just maybe with the support of webmasters could build a rival to Google that would keep them honest.

Google isn't going to change, they will keep SME's suppressed whilst suckers keep spending on advertising. The only way to evoke change is switch to supporting a Search Engine that supports the many not the few.
7:40 am on July 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@glakes, yours is an interesting story for me, I also represent a small manufacturer here in the UK.

ATM we focus on google, and spend the same on both SEO and Adwords. We do get some visitors from the likes of bing and our rankings on bing are not too bad, but it is still a small amount compared to G.

Do you mind explaining your strategy a little more?
2:48 pm on July 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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To those who despair at adwords taking up the top places on the SERP. It used to be that B&M companies paid SEOs to rank at the top of G pg1, G got none of that money despite being the all important platform. Now with adwords B&M companies can still get to the top of p1 but rather than pay an SEO, they now pay G direct.

B&M companies are probably not spending more than they used to, just now it goes direct to G.
5:20 pm on July 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Mark

What works for me in the USA may not work for you in the UK. I just don't have enough knowledge/data about the UK market, and it also depends on what you are selling. Though if you look at my previous posts in this thread, the trend is clear that many more USA shoppers are going to Amazon first to search for products. My products are reasonably priced and of a good quality. I do my best to give the buyer no reason to search anywhere else - closing the sale as quickly as possible on the Amazon marketplace. If I were you I would dig into the data to see how many UK shoppers prefer Amazon and other marketplaces over search engines when shopping. According to what is written at [statista.com...] 26% of UK residents were Amazon Prime members. Since it's a premium data set, they don't display historical data but you can search for other studies/reports on that site which may be more relevant to your product line.

Regarding your other post about paying Google directly instead of investing in SEO, this is not the case for me. Google's overall traffic conversion rate has plummeted over the years making investing much effort in Google organic and Adwords a losing proposition. At least for my company and it's products, it appears Google's users are mostly conducting research whereas Bing/Yahoo still convert about the same as they did years ago. However, Google personalizes/cloaks SERPS so there is a good likelihood that they are thinning out the good traffic by spreading buyer intent traffic around - resulting in a conversion rate that is half that of Bing and Yahoo.
5:38 pm on July 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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There's an awful lot of hair splitting going on here.
they will keep SME's suppressed whilst suckers keep spending on advertising.

There is no suppression - it's just become more commercial than when it started.
Go back 30-years and there was no search engine or Internet we know today. How did a small business survive? It would advertise, or use PR, or get recommendations. What's the difference? The Internet, that's all: It's just added another opportunity.

Look back at 2014 and you'll see that Eric Schmidt has said the firm's biggest rival in online search is e-commerce giant Amazon. [webmasterworld.com]
Since then, there's no question about the rise and rise of Amazon.

You can look back even further and we've been discussing Life without Google [webmasterworld.com] going way back to 2005. It's much better to have a spread of options in the smaller percentages that one big chunk.

Look at some of the other threads when traffic dried up, and here's a classic So Long Google And Thanks For All The Fish [webmasterworld.com] from 2011

The key thing here is that "we" have had to change over time. If you haven't been adapting to the changes, you could be yet another casualty at the next Google update.

Oh, and it really doesn't matter how much Google earns, it's what your business earns that counts, whether that is helped by the free traffic from Google, or Bing, or via Amazon, or any other source. None of these owe anyone a living.
Write-ups on respected sites are always good. I'm not talking about guest blogging, i'm talking about product or business reviews. Mobile, and mobile, and mobile, add social media, viral posts, educational videos, etc. There's lots and lots of things to do, and it's very exciting to have additional ways to help promote a business.
imho
7:39 pm on July 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@glakes thanks for your feedback, we can't sell via Amazon as we offer a very custom customer unique offering. But I am interested in the changing balance certainly and there should be some lessons there for me.

@engine - I don't think there is such a thing as free traffic, organic listings require work which means time and money, and adwords, money and time.
12:44 am on July 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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There is no suppression - it's just become more commercial than when it started.


So it's just a coincidence that SME are no longer ranking and the SERPS are dominated by brand websites. My mistake then............. ;)
7:51 am on July 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Mark_A people refer to organic as free, but, yes, you're right, there's a lot of investment involved.

@seoskunk It's not "suppression" as that would be wrong. Small, non-brands can rank.
Part of the problem is the crowding out of organic.

Even now, today, Google's SERPs still make it worse by domain crowding. That is very tiresome, imho. I have no idea why Google can't fix that.
8:25 am on July 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Wanna see Google screw up really really bad? .. Just dump cookies and cache after every session and quit using Google Chrome .. Same with Facebook -- It's hard to keep the pin in the cushion when you don't know where the cushion is most of the time.
Don't use Google Chrome and your life will be turned upside down, or not, depending on how much of a fan-boy you are ... Your history is kept and will continue to be kept to eternity regardless of how many re-installs or scrubbing you think you have to do in order to feel clean. Deleted data doesn't help Google's bottom line at all.

I remember the old days .. I remember a time when we used to fight those nasty BHO's and shifty toolbar installs -- Search was pulling it's hair out trying to convince the world that they could make those ad dollars pay out in a huge way because they had just the scheme to keep folks hemmed in.

Since I'm not stuck being led around by the nose with those fancy apps and unconfigurable browsers, I've found Bing to probably be a bit more relevant than Google - At least I can find what I'm looking for when I search Bing - Without the session cookies, stored cache, and a browser owned by an ads salesman, Bing does a much better job at *guessing than does Google when presented with the same instances and under the same conditions. I prefer to look for what I think I want, as opposed to search trying to push me into what they think I want.

We know what Google is, and we know what Facebook is -- We all know that ethics isn't something that really ever concerns either of the two on any given day, unless, of course, they are about to get caught ... it's only a different story then. Otherwise, and since their math isn't as precise as some might want you to believe, they have to track you and follow you and write down everything you do so that they appear to already know what you're thinking and wanting.

I haven't used Google on a consistent basis in over 3 years .. and I've only really ever used their Chrome browser on *Client machines.

It's easy to have the kind of freedom that will allow you to just walk away without any angst.

Search habits of the general public are bound to change over the course of time, because they get tired of looking at the same things every single day. Google knows this. The more people evolve in their habits, the harder it's going to be for Google's tired technology to keep up.
10:43 am on July 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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In terms of a search engine, i guess only Bing and Yandex can at least be considered as other systems. So SEO will always be in Google (mainly). But in the advertisement you have several ways to get a client. As seoskunk mentioned, facebook, linkedin and other social media websites can be used with a great success
1:22 pm on July 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Even now, today, Google's SERPs still make it worse by domain crowding. That is very tiresome, imho. I have no idea why Google can't fix that.

If I can remove more than more than one instance of "X" using a macro in a spreadsheet, I'm sure Google can fix domain crowding if they wanted to. It's definitely not a matter of their ability but rather one of choice. Domain crowding raises the entry bar and difficulty for other sites to appear on page 1 of the SERPS. When Google removed ads from the sidebar it inflated the value of the top Adword slots and increased CPC (more competition for fewer ad slots). Less than 10 organic search results also raises the value of paid opportunities. Domain crowding is just another tool in Google's tool chest to make paid advertising more appealing. That may be fine for informational queries, but definitely not for products. People don't just want choice when shopping, but a lot of choices. Amazon is moving in one direction by presenting users with many results for product searches while Google is restricting choice. That may help explain why Google is hemorrhaging users searching for products.
11:16 pm on July 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I'm glad people have raised the issue of domain crowding because I felt I was the only one talking about it. The site in my niche Google loves can get between 1-5 listings on the first page of Google.

I have a new site and a few issues, so have been doing searches on my mobile for my own content, putting in 'blue widgets, widgetworld.com (my site)' and even being that specific, Google quite often show my competitor in the number one spot. You just can't compete with that.
11:45 pm on July 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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How does one know "my target market (shoppers) left Google"? Where do you get that metric?

60% of my shoppers have never been to my site before. Aside from the occasional query string & referrer included with a request, I have no idea where they came from, and I certainly wouldn't believe any stats or analytics software.
1:06 am on July 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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How does one know "my target market (shoppers) left Google"? Where do you get that metric?

Declining conversions from Google leading to an eventual state described by many of us as zombies (some bots, price shoppers, information seekers, etc.) leads one to investigate. What I found were many studies/reports showing product searching shoppers rapidly migrating from search engines to Amazon, some of which are referenced in previous pages within this thread. The UPS Pulse report notes only 15% of shoppers start their search for products in a search engine, meaning if we or a competitor can close the sale elsewhere then this 85% group of shoppers have no need to ever use a search engine to find/visit our sites to buy what they want.
8:33 am on July 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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only 15% of shoppers start their search for products in a search engine


First, the UPS survey states: "Contrary to findings from other sources, the avid online shoppers in this survey started just 15% of their product searches with Google, Bing, etc.", which clearly means that not all surveys show the same bias. For that reason, we have to ask what it is about this one that might make it more reliable.

All we know is that "Input was collected from 5,330 qualified comScore panelists in January and February, 2016". We don't know how the panellists were selected, and while the sample size is large enough to be interesting, it isn't large enough to be representative. Google will have a much larger and more detailed picture, as will Amazon.

Second, the report only addresses retail. For service providers - I am one - it has no relevance at all, but even for retailers it is far less reliable than in-house data. If you don't already, you should take every opportunity you can to ask your new customers how they found you. That will tell you which areas of your marketing are the most cost-effective, and give you early warning signs if any - e.g. Google organics - are starting to fail. You shouldn't need an online survey to tell you where your customers come from, or how your business is doing.
8:40 am on July 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Rather ironic that Google Search played such a significant role in the rise of Amazon Shoppping, which in turn is playing such a significant role in the demise of Google Search.
8:42 am on July 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Where else are they researching? Maybe I'm naive as Amazon hasn't reached Australia yet, but if I'm searching for say 'trail running shoes or dishwasher', my first port of call would be a search engine.

Once Amazon reaches our shores maybe it will be different, but for now it's search engines all the way. I am dreading Amazon coming here...they're on their way.
8:45 am on July 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Rather ironic that Google Search played such a significant role in the rise of Amazon Shoppping, which in turn is playing such a significant role in the demise of Google Search.


I've thought the same thing. I remember a member here a couple of years ago ran a Google search on an item and Amazon dominated the first page.
9:02 am on July 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I remember a member here a couple of years ago ran a Google search on an item and Amazon dominated the first page.


Presumably, if my experience is anything to go by, with pages noting "This item is out of stock".
9:32 am on July 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Haha, I can't remember that. But it's funny to run the same search now and the brand which featured numerous times on page one is nowhere to be seen.

However in my niche, one site dominates...over and over and over again. They are the Amazon of my niche. Quite literally.
9:56 am on July 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Once Amazon reaches our shores maybe it will be different, but for now it's search engines all the way. I am dreading Amazon coming here...they're on their way.
I would think Alibaba would be in Australia by now... bigger than Amazon.
12:02 pm on July 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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you should take every opportunity you can to ask your new customers how they found you. That will tell you which areas of your marketing are the most cost-effective, and give you early warning signs if any - e.g. Google organics - are starting to fail. You shouldn't need an online survey to tell you where your customers come from, or how your business is doing.

Or in a different view, but reinforcing the same, a survey is not needed to tell you where your customers are NOT coming from. Especially when good ranks and stable conversions become decoupled, surveys offer guidance on trends that may be impacting our sales.

We don't know how the panellists were selected, and while the sample size is large enough to be interesting, it isn't large enough to be representative. Google will have a much larger and more detailed picture, as will Amazon

It's one study among many showing how Google has and is losing its relevance in ecommerce within the United States. I prefer the Slice study (linked to on page 2 of this thread) as they don't rely on panelists but the receipts of 4.4 million shoppers. What they found was 43% of all ecommerce transactions within the USA went to Amazon. For those running businesses dependent on customers spending money, being found in a market where 43% of all ecommerce transactions occur is not something I would consider to be optional anymore.

Second, the report only addresses retail. For service providers - I am one - it has no relevance at all

For service providers in the USA it does have a lot of relevance. Amazon has a home and business services offering (linked to on page 2 of this thread) where service providers can signup and get jobs through Amazon. For example, searching Google.com for "hire an electrician" without quotes and Amazon ranks #1, Angies List #2, Home Advisor #3 and Home Advisor #4. In fact, Amazon ranks #1 for many queries directly related to scheduling all types of services.

If you don't already, you should take every opportunity you can to ask your new customers how they found you.

With various traffic analysis solutions available, I think it's rather easy to dig into the details and find where customers are coming from and where they are not. Deciphering the presence of "buyer intent traffic" is the problem though as good organic ranks in Google don't equate to sales, with Google traffic converting at half the rate of Bing and Yahoo. Once I quit the blame game, by blaming Google, myself, etc., I gave up on Google and pressed on. Now that I sell on Amazon and have branched into other markets (many big brand retailers have advertising/selling options of their own), I not only have a clearer picture of what is happening but it can be measured in profits. Since leaving Google, or should I say quitting Adwords and putting a stop to organic SEO efforts/expenses, my profitability has returned with a vengeance.

What this all boils down to are the numbers. Those asking whether it is time to move on from Google need to look at what facts they can assemble to make an informed decision. If they are ranking good in Google, as I did/do, maybe it's time to look elsewhere for product sales and yes even service sales for those in the USA. As I noted before, Google is facing much more regulatory pressure in the UK than the USA, and the geographic market one serves may be a factor in how well they are doing with Google now and how well they may do in a marketplace.
12:34 pm on July 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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It is now, has always been, and always will be a good time to diversify where one's customers come from.

Get your customers first, before anyone else gets them. Do not rely on an entity sending you your customers. If you rely on being fed you are in trouble if your handler gets a taste for your food.
9:23 pm on July 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I would think Alibaba would be in Australia by now... bigger than Amazon.


I've heard of them but have no idea what they sell.

For now, our searches tend to be niche specific, if you're looking for running shoes, you'll get links to sportswear shops, dishwasher will throw back electrical goods stores, pet food...pet food shops. That's how I shop and assume most other people are the same. I know the retail sector is dreading the arrival of Amazon.
2:45 am on July 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I find it hard to FIND certain information in the Google anymore.

No latter than today was looking for an abiotic petroleum theory. Everyone in the real science world basically now understands that oil is not from dinosaurs and algae, that's cute but math doesn't work. i Finding right links were nearly impossible in G. Yandex will give you great results in both english and russian (naturally), more than 1 mln results , with links to Russian Academy of Sciences etc. (over 65 years of research and drilling). In Google actual images would come from, say, bunch of alternative sites that .gov and Big Oil can claim are all "conspiracy theorists".

I've been successfully using DuckDuckGo almost exclusively for over a year. Great results, except they need to do better on images.

How to move on from Google, in no particular order.
1. Bing and Bing Ads
2. Yandex
3. Everyone forgets world's 2nd largest search engine, Baidu.
4. DuckDuckGo
I periodically see more traffic from above 4 combined than from Google.
5. Affiliate programs. If you run ecommerce, go around and do some affiliate relations with sites. Again, if you are a publisher , think of pages that can land and sell a product well and go apply for an affiliate program. Last week I had an affiliate sign up that has 2-3 sales per day now, from 1 single page. Even if it's $5 commission, can you count?
6. Social media, obviously. If you are good at marketing.
7. Email your customers/visitors

8. Dark side. We get together and build an alternative to Google. And wrestle power away from them.
11:22 am on July 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The fan boys want you to believe that amazon shoppers and other brands repeat customers leave amazon site or the brand email offer and start doing a lot of research before buying. But how many of them and on how many ads do they click doing this incredible research of information for their dollar?
12:02 pm on July 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@mosxu
Please can you drop "fan boy" from your comments. It is totally unnecessary, and promotes polarisation of views.

People self-identify into tribes, and your tribe is self-evident from your comments. It makes it impossible for anyone who DOES NOT ALREADY AGREE WITH YOU from reading your comments without bias. This creates an echo chamber, or filter bubble effect. Go to twitter, or facebook, if your like that sort of thing, but it undermines the purpose of a professional forum, which is to read and reflect on others' views.

Nevertheless, let me address your question while ignoring your pejorative remarks.

I shop from Amazon, but not exclusively. I leave Amazon to research. I never read Amazon emails- they are auto-deleted.

My research depends on what I'm buying. Complex and/or expensive items get more research. I, like most web professionals, am ad-blind (and these days use ad-blockers in any case).

My research is not "incredible" but it is sufficient to satisfy my requirements. Typically sub-5 mins. OTOH, I was house-hunting and my online-research phase was 12 solid hours. PCs, smartphones and holidays are several hours each. Presents for others are typically hours, though frequently end up bought at Amazon.

IMHO, Amazon are at least as big a threat as Google. They are an actual retailer. You know, otherwise known as a competitor. If you worry about feeding Google, worry as much or more about feeding amazon. Their datacentres are comparable, too.
1:19 pm on July 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@shaddows

The question was not put to you. There is a lot of information dropped here to make users think that there is nothing wrong and that a lot of amazon shoppers do come out of amazon sites and do a lot of research by clicking a lot of ads before buying. What is the percentage of these amazon shoppers?
2:51 pm on July 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The question was not put to you.


I thought it had been put to all of us.

Nothing stated here makes users think anything: this is a debate, not an intellectual gulag.

What Amazon shoppers do is indirectly relevant to the OP, but we're primarily interested in what Google users do. Some Amazon shoppers - including me - do research products, and some of them - excluding me - click ads. If your question (whoever is supposed to answer it) is what percentage of Amazon shoppers both research AND click on lots of ads, the answer is probably a very small percentage: people who research are inherently less likely to click on ads (which are biased by their nature). I'm not sure where you have gained the impression that contributors here are trying to make you or anyone else think otherwise: I don't see it myself.
3:30 pm on July 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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There is a lot of information dropped here to make users think that there is nothing wrong and that a lot of amazon shoppers do come out of amazon sites and do a lot of research by clicking a lot of ads before buying. What is the percentage of these amazon shoppers?

I don't recall specific data on this, but I think the Bloomreach report [go.bloomreach.com...] gives us some clues.

7 in 10 say they check another retailer even if they found a product they want on Amazon.
Of that 7 in 10, only 52% said they do this often or always.

9 in 10 say they check Amazon (comparison shop) even if they found a product they want on a retailer's site.
Of that 9 in 10, 78% said they do this often or always.

Clearly this study highlights Amazon's advantage and only a percentage go to another retailer after using a search engine to find that retailer. What that percentage is I have not found in a report, though Amazon's 44% of all ecommerce revenue in the USA reinforces the fact independent sites are losing the battle for buyer bucks. Either way, being found in Amazon is important since Amazon is frequently visited by shoppers through most purchase cycles.
3:50 pm on July 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Either way, being found in Amazon is important since Amazon is frequently visited by shoppers through most purchase cycles.

Only in exactly the same way that being in SERPs was important 5 years ago.

Right now, the question for retailers is "how is Google trying to eat your lunch"

That is not even a question for Amazon. Amazon can eat your lunch any time they like.

Amazon is not your friend. Even less than Google.
This 114 message thread spans 4 pages: 114