The Google vs Government skirmish was a warning for us all

Here’s how to protect your business during the ceasefire

It’s a very serious problem that needs to be taken very seriously. We are of course talking about the recent stand-off and resulting posturing and negotiations that led to an uneasy truce between Google and the Australian government. So, all is quiet on the news front – for now.

But let’s take half a step back and recap what actually happened between Google and the Government and then examine why the situation was (and still is) so volatile. Importantly, we also want to give you and your business the chance to:

  • Reduce the risk of losing revenue through a reduction in searchability
  • Understand how and why these situations could recur at any time
  • Assess the proactive steps we’ve taken to increase the value of our services to you, in light of what’s happening

Looking behind the news and understanding the reasons for actions and reactions will often shed light on what we, as business people, should be doing next, in order to thrive in a climate of change.

What changes caused Google and the government to escalate tensions?

Okay, so there has been a situation brewing between Google, the government and news outlets for about a year now. Truth be known, probably longer than that though. This short clip and article help us understand that Google’s opposition to the proposed News Media Bargaining Code was based on impracticalities in its application. In short, here’s:

The Context

If I searched up “sharks” online because I was interested in them, Google would return a number of results that might include stories about shark attacks as reported on news networks around the country or globe. If you wanted to read all about these attacks you’d click on the result and at some point, you might hit a “paywall” asking you to subscribe to an online news service. Or you might be able to read the article or view the video for free – it depends. In essence, search engines are in the business of serving up relevant results for consumer searches, wherever and whatever they may be, but they weren’t necessarily paying the source for the result.

The Catalyst

Perhaps as a result of people getting smarter, more discerning and more digitally empowered, “the news” no longer enjoys the same esteem and trust it did in decades past. Instead of passively, taking traditional media’s words as statements of fact, viewers and readers of this generation have become their own fact-checkers, researchers, opinion-makers and influencers.

So, if I want to check the status of a hotly-anticipated, version of a new piece of tech, I can search up and consume 5 or 6 reports, reviews and videos from multiple points of view in 4 minutes – easy. All thanks, to the growing power and convenience of search engines.

The Affect

Traditional news services, their content and the way it’s presented (clickbait, sensationalism, accusations of bias) has been devalued and faces stiff opposition from self-servicing searchers who trust their intuition and understanding more than what the various news producers serve up.

So now, against the backdrop of resulting staff cuts, the Australian government has approached Google to draw their attention to what they perceive to be a one-sided relationship with news services. There are two things to note here.

  • Firstly, it does look like the government simply rushing to the aid of traditional news outlets, protecting Australian jobs and so on. But also consider that much of what we are presented on traditional news platforms is sourced from overseas.
  • Secondly, if we were Google’s brains trust we’d be suggesting that in a free market, we are simply pointing towards freely available content in response to searchers’ needs. Give the people what they want. True, we may not be paying a fee but we are herding searchers to news producers’ channels or platforms and creating $39bn in benefits to over a million businesses – where’s the problem?

So, there are always two sides to the story and in the interests of journalistic integrity (we’re not journalists), we’ve tried to be fair and balanced when it comes to both parties. Politics is not our game but helping our clients achieve their goals is – let’s focus on what this all means for you and share some advice that will help you.

But let’s talk about you and your business?!

As was mentioned at the top of this article, this is serious. And believe me when I say that small businesses were caught in the mix as well. Here’s how:

Headlines screamed that Google might leave Australia – presumably taking with them their search engine (currently enjoying 94.07% share of the search market) but it was never explicitly stated that they would not pack up and leave with Gmail, Youtube, Maps and Google Homes, was it?

Many of you have businesses that are located and contacted primarily through Google search. For some businesses, no Google means no new business – potentially disastrous!

Precedent is often defined as the first of something that can and will lead to recurrences of that event. So, if Google felt they had left with their many and varied services under their arm, how long before others did the same?

Here’s a question for you. If Google search disappeared where would you be?

 

3 things you should do and 3 things we’ve done to protect your business

Business 101. Never rely on just one single way of being found. Diversify. Make it easy for different types of clients and customers to find you.

  1. Refresh, review and revisit your leads – keep all your old invoices and contacts because your database is worth a lot to your business.
  2. Increase business visibility across multiple platforms and search engines. Don’t forget, Microsoft’s Bing is also a worldwide phenomenon. And what about broadening your reach across the many social media platforms?
  3. Be mentally ready for change. Yes, this skirmish between Google and the government appears to have been resolved but don’t be surprised if there are recurrences. Be change-ready.

Here at AiiMS’ Research and Development, we’ve been preparing for this for quite some time. Already, we have proactively:

  • Upgraded our call-tracking software to safeguard our contacts and our clients’ contacts, preserving and protecting the ability to promote and enhance client reach and exposure.
  • Pledged a $10M investment in Microsoft Search (Bing) for 2021 through and for our businesses in order to reduce risk. This is a positive step towards ensuring that our interests and the interests of our clients are protected, should alternatives come under threat in the future.
  • Launched our new VIP Social+, a product that encapsulates every other profile outside of the “search” platforms. More reach, more protection to share with our clients.

This latest episode with Google and the government is a timely reminder that business owners need to look, listen and understand the (relevant) news behind the news and how that may affect your business. Before the next round of volatility rolls around (and it will!) make sure that you seek the right advice and commit to putting it into action.

Janty and Kynan are important resources within our brains trust and proactively monitor news and events to ensure that AiiMS in perfectly positioned to position you perfectly for success during these everchanging times.

 

 

 

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