Is The Perfect Storm Coming Together To Unhinge Google In 2011?

Interesting article I found at simplyzesty on the possible demise of Google in 2011:

I’ve written here in the past how Google is kind of broken and now for the first time in it’s history I genuinely think it is under serious threat. I’d go as far as saying that if I owned any stock in Google I’d sell it because I don’t think the next 5 years are going to be kind to it as a company. They have their eggs in a lot of different baskets and were smart enough to invest in innovation because they knew themselves that to a large extent they were a one trick pony. Their pony was a very good one and the one trick that he knows (search engine advertising) has generated hundreds of billions of dollars and made Google the tech giant that it is. For years it seemed as if Google could do no wrong and the competition be it search start ups, Yahoo or Microsoft was generally batted away with disdain. The landscape has changed over the last 18 months though and Google faces a very real danger that it’s core product could come under threat and I think 2011 will be the year where we see the first cracks start to appear in Google’s once invincible search armor. Here is why…

Real Time Search

Nothing new here as it’s been around for a few years but real time search and Twitter search in particular gets more and more useful by the day. If you want anything news related or want to get your finger on the pulse then it has to be the first stop and will always deliver faster more relevant results than Google will. People will turn to real time search more and more over the next year as the seek more relevant info…

Friend’s Recommendations V. Google

We all have powerful networks that we can tap in to now through our various social media profiles. The beauty of this is that you can lean on the collective knowledge of the network to get answers in a way that Google could never provide. I did a little test to compare an answer to the question “what can I eat for dessert that is tasty but healthy”. I tried it using both Google and my own personal network on Twitter…

Personal Network

I got about 20 answers from people I know and trust. Nearly all the answers were useful and people had clearly put thought in to their answers. Tapping in to human knowledge like this is massively powerful as even this most trivial of question shows.

Google Throws Back Spam Results

The first result that I clicked on Google for the same search query is a page that is clearly gamed for search engines to appear higher up the rankings. The entire top fold of the page is littered with ads (ironically Google Ads mostly) and there is very little information relating to my query here.

The Like Button

I’ve written about this a couple of times and how on it’s own it will be a serious threat to Google and there is no doubt it will change the way we search. Rather than counting on incoming links (as Google mostly does) Facebook is gathering information based on what people actually like. Google has to pretty much shadow us around the web and at best guess what we want to see but Facebook can offer personalized search based on what we have previously indicated we actually like. I think it will take a couple of years but I can see a like on Facebook becoming as important as an incoming link is today and people integrating them further and further in to their own websites. The beauty about the like button is that unlike links which the man in the street has no idea about everybody understands the like button and will instinctively just click it thus improving Facebook’s knowledge. It’s also a lot harder to game the system.

Categorized Human Knowledge

I’m not going to say it will be Quora but it could be and Quora gives us a little glimpse of what is possible in this space. See the biggest problem with Google is that the results can be gamed by smart people or people who have money. People spend thousands getting to the top of Google but the only way that good information can get to the top on sites like Quora is by getting voted up by other users. It’s still early days in this area and the concept has been around for some time but Quora feels different. I can already get better information and answers to my questions there than I can on Google. Just look at this question below as an example. Searching on Google would take a huge amount of time whereas below I get a full thread from some of the smartest people around with the best answers voted up to the top so as all the work is done for me.


It’s still very small in comparison to the mighty Google but Bing is starting to make some inroads and their recent partnership with Facebook that is only set to expand over the coming years will help them add social context to search in a way that Google probably won’t be able to do unless they crack their own social product. The biggest problem that Bing has is a physiological one in that very few people say I need to go and “Bing” that but this could be the year that sees them start to eat in to Google’s market share in a more serious way. Facebook data will be key.

Google Does Have A Trump Card

It’s called Android and Google realizes that a lot of us in the future are going to be searching on our phones. For them to have the foresight to create an entire platform is impressive and their main battle will be to make sure they control search on Android as well as wrapping up the location based market as well as local deals and hyper targeted advertising. That’s why Google was so keen on acquiring Groupon and it’s why you’ll surely see them develop their own deals platform as well as targeting other location based start ups.


Google is still massively important when it comes to sending traffic and don’t expect their share price or earnings to collapse overnight. They are a tech giant who touch many parts of our daily online lives but make no mistake about it their core product is under more threat that it ever has been. I don’t expect Google to fall away and they may even grow slightly but there is no doubt that a change is in the air and the services and behaviors above show that people are starting to find their information in an entirely new way and that has to be a worry for Google in 2011.

Article written by Niall Harbison at simplyzesty.



Josh is a multidsicplinary designer who has a love for creativity and design. He enjoys learning and experimenting in all areas of design. Please feel free to follow Josh on Twitter

  • Muhahahaah, sorry Josh, finally time to comment on this article so WoT incoming haha

    “Friend’s Recommendations V. Google”
    There is one problem with the “test” the writer used: Google uses semantic search, meaning it searches in pages which it deems relevant (by usage of algorithms) in relation to prior searches. So if you’ve never searched for healthy food before it just takes a high ranked page to display, while if you franticly searched and through google surfed on (healthy) food pages before it can provide much more relevant links.

    One of the biggest arguments against google is exactly what I described above. I always find it amusing when people post on twitter and facebook about “how scary they think it is that google can use prior searches and thus create a “profile” of you” while at the same point they expose their interest, likes and more often then not half their personal life throughout those same means. Privacy on the internet is an illusion. But that’s waaaaay beside the topic lol.

    Google has a major research department, and if there is something that is going to hamper google it’s not the increased usage of social media, rather the underwhelming results of their R&D. They have a sever lack of patents and fail to generate significant amounts of new patents. However due to this google starts to more and more embrace open-source technology – which grows stronger and stronger every day.

    Besides that, if you only search within your own social circle, you’ll never get to that unexpectedly great restaurant no-ones ever heard of… You limit yourself by doing so.

    If google should fall it’s due to lack of innovation, not of competition on searches of usage of social media. Imo of course 😉

    Nice article though *thumbsup*

  • Haha, wow Daniel that is some response there my friend! 🙂

    Thanks for taking the time for giving such a detailed response, I was deffinately nodding along in agreement.

    On a similiar note, have you seen/heard about the new Bing Beta that was release last year? I tried to get an invite, but never arrived. Watched a few video documentaries on it and I’m quite excited about it. Although you probably wont be with your comments above 🙂

    For example. Concerning movies: if you were searching for new released films, it will show at the top of the page of search results how many of your friends gave that movie a thumbs up (‘liked’) on the website.
    Although I do agree, this will increase the problem, you point out of ‘searching within your social circle’, thus limiting and narrowing your overal search, as your bound to go for that movie your friends all ‘liked’ rather than a little unknown one.

    It certainly does have it’s floors, but I do kinda like the idea of everything we do being linked in with everything else, and everyone we know. But the problem is, where will this stop? And once we have had enough of all this sharing, how easily will it be to remove/hide ourselves from it all?

    Thanks for stopping by Dan, really appreciate it.

  • Mwah, Bing… I was rather shocked by the following:

    Whether or not it is true, it’s rather suspicious to say the least… I mean, who in their right mind would search for ‘juegosdeben1ogrande’ ?
    And I must say I like that google indexed my search behavior over the past oh I dunno, 5? years and even use my 11756 emails in gmail to redirect me to results that seem the best for me. I’m happy with em so far 😉

    However, if you want something else, just go to the 2nd or 3rd page (their own results showed that roughly 95% of their users never go past the first page) where the information quickly looses relevance in correlation with your own semantics. Which brings you a bit further outside your circle…

    What would be nice to do as an experiment: Take a bunch of 2nd or even 3rd level connections: you->friend->friend’s friend(2nd)->friend of a friends friend(3rd). Take a peergroup within your first level contacts. Ask them both exactly the same (healthy desert anyone?) and make sure they do *not* know what the other group answers – at leats, don’t have them ‘cheating’ the answers. Compare the answers between the 3 levels, there should be similarities, but at the same time the 3rd and 1st level answers are likely to be quite different as well.

    Funny concepts, those networking theories. As for getting out of the circle… create a facebook account, use it a month and then delete it. At least: try. Then see how ‘well’ you can remove yourself from the interwebs 😉

    Time to read other articles ^^