What Would Google Do?
Everything's Google this and Google that on the Internet, and it's high time that someone searched for some answers as to why they're the number one search engine, and why they've doubled their revenue since last year.
I plugged these questions into the Garrett search engine, and I'd like to share the results with you.
#1 Offer a Superior Product
I search on Google because it offers the most relevant results to my keywords. I know I'm getting the most relevant results because Google doesn't accept money from advertisers to "float" their company.
The Google engine organizes results based on how closely and how often that site is linked to the keyword you searched on. This search algorithm is the foundation of Google's superior product, and it gives the web an almost uncanny intuition.
One way Google makes money is through selling these search capacities to other sites. Yahoo was one of Google's first legitimizing customers, replacing the Inktomi search engine with the superior Google model. Now the New York Times uses their services, along with a host of others, each paying a fee for customized use.
Google's superiority as a search engine made it the sixth most hit site last year, and makes Google a key spot for advertisers. It is Google's very resistance to the pay-for-placement business model that makes it so popular with viewers and thus, with advertisers.
The reason Google advertisers always come back for more is the way Google works for them, always seeking ways to maximize their click-through rates. Since Google ads are all text, small changes in wording can have an enormous affect on the number of clicks an ad receives. With advertiser permission, Google's ad team fine tunes ad copy, always seeking the best possible wording.
#2 Build Low-Cost Infrastructure
Google's servers all run on license-free Linux operating systems. Since there are over 10,000 servers powering the Google search, securing a license for each incidence of the software would have prohibited their existence.
Another way that Google cut costs was by building all their computers in-house with commodity hardware. Since there are Google employees who know their stuff, Google saves on costly service agreements with manufacturers. In addition, since they build their own computers they save from spending extra money on package deals that provide unnecessary components.
#3 Hire Eric Schmidt as Your CEO
Google started as PHD project of Sergey Brin and Larry Page, two Stanford students who dropped out to pursue the company they believed in.
They raised one million dollars in capital from family and friends in 1998, and six months later they landed $25 million from Sequoia Capital. They obviously had what it took to launch their company, which, like so many others, blasted off in the late nineties.
No one's said exactly why they stepped down from the helm of Google, but to me that decision speaks volumes about their judgment of their abilities. They brought Google into the world, but when that world crashed they brought in someone who knew the business of management.
#4 Hold Off on that IPO
There's no rush. Why jump in to a relationship you're not ready for?
That Google didn't rush with the rest of the dotcom lemmings to the cliffs of IPO shows shrewd judgment. Just because your dotcom's making a profit doesn't mean you have to sell stock and make even more profit.
In case you were wondering about future plans to go public, here's Schmidt in a recent interview with the International Herald Tribune, "right now the company is profitable, and cash flow positive, and its revenue is growing pretty quickly. So we're in a good situation as a private company, where we don't need financing, so we don't have any current plans to go public. Given that the company is venture-funded, I'm sure eventually we'll have that discussion…"
#5 Variations on a Theme: Experimenting for Profits
Google, trusted as a source for free, relevant Internet searches, now offers two new ways to search - for a fee.
Individuals with questions can visit the beta version of Google Answer. Type your question and specify how much you're willing to pay for an answer - anywhere from US $4 to $50. Information gurus from around the world will tell you just what you need to know.
If you're especially adept at gathering and presenting information, consider becoming a Google Guru and answer the questions posed by the masses. There's a real potential there for those of you who'd like to pick up some extra cash. Make sure you read over the answers other gurus have given - they're thorough to the point of overkill.
Another recent Google innovation is the Google Search Appliance, which allows you to harness Google's search algorithms for your company network. If the search script your programmers wrote doesn't quite cut the mustard, maybe it's time to invest in something a little more powerful.
#6 Invite Change
In another bold move that will lead to increased revenue, Google recently opened their cache of over 2 billion web pages to developers around the world. This invitation to collaboration will shape the future of Google, as increasing numbers of software developers discover new ways to use the cache.
Google's limiting the number of searches a developer can do in a day, but this move has lots of programmers eager to manipulate tasty data with a new ferocity.
By inviting programmers to use their data on a limited basis, Google's laying the foundation for a future business relationship.
#7 Keep it Funky
Google's brains, the people who tweak and tune Google's guts, would not function as well if they had to suffer a corporate hierarchy and all the stuffy accoutrements of boardrooms and corner offices. Since Google focuses on the happiness of their employees, knowing that a happy employee is a productive employee, they offer perks like free snacks, roller hockey breaks, pre-IPO stock options, massage therapy, and a game room.
This goofy, laid-back culture promotes communication and a sense of good will amongst the employees, and brings out their best work.
There's a lot to learn from Google. When you're in a pinch and not sure what direction you should take your company, just ask, What Would Google Do?
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About the Author:
Garrett French is the editor of iEntry's eBusiness channel. You can talk to him directly at WebProWorld, the eBusiness Community Forum.
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