Google Doesn’t Necessarily Want You to Find Web Pages
Alex Ionut of Google Operating System has written a very interesting article where he points out that Google isn’t necessarily obligated to drive people to the websites the company gets its information from, nor do they necessarily want to.
That’s a big deal. Why? Because right now Google drives the majority of the traffic around the Web, at least the majority of newfound content (first time viewers to new sites or pages.) Everyone with a website wants to get high up in Google’s search results, specifically for the purpose of driving more traffic to their sites.
As Google improves, they may not need to direct you to sites at all. You might be able to simply type in any given question and Google will be able to answer it flawlessly.
But while Google seems to be primarily a tool for finding web pages, in actuality the company’s mission is quite different: to organize the world’s information. That doesn’t in any way imply that they intend to drive people to the source of the information, only that they’re looking to be able to provide that information to their users.
For example, type
define:bananas and you won’t be directed specifically to any sites, the answers will be available right on that page. Also, queries like
10USD to GBP or
10-8 produce answers at the top of the page, rather than taking you to currency conversion or calculator app sites. These, not to mention Gmail, Google Maps, etc., are actually taking lots of traffic away from the rest of the Web and keeping it on Google’s sites.
Eventually, as Google improves, they may not need to direct you to sites at all. You might be able to simply type in any given question and Google will be able to answer it flawlessly.
Aside from the huge impact this could have on traffic to the rest of the Internet, it could be considered somewhat unethical. On the obvious end of the stick, Google wouldn’t exist today if it weren’t for the rest of the Internet, and the search giant certainly wouldn’t have grown so massive without all of that content out there for it to sort through. And that’s all that Google has, really: our content makes it smarter. Without us, they’re nothing…they generate almost no original content of their own, it’s all an amalgamation of bits and pieces they’ve found from other people. Even PageRank is up to us. Sure, it’s their algorithm, but its only by us linking back and forth to one another’s websites that Google can determine how accurate a page is without having humans dissect each one.
What does this all mean? I can’t be sure. I don’t see the near future as hosting this New Google Order; for a long time to come searching the Web will still be largely a process begun with Google and ending up at some other relevant page. And from a user standpoint, who cares if you’re getting your information from Wikipedia.org or from Wikipedia.org-via-Google.com? I only hope that, as Google gets better and better at answering questions instead of leading us on to pages that can answer them for us, they don’t push the Internet into resembling old media, where instead of having millions of competing sources of content you only have a handful of guys who’ve gotten really good at dominating shelf space.
Up Next: Drunken Jeff Goldblum