The business world we live in is changing exponentially. Some companies that didn’t exist 20 years ago are now global superpowers. Take Google, for instance; founded on 4 September 1998, in 2016 it is in its 18th year, and most of us can’t imagine a day without it. Within the span of our lifetimes, this company has arisen from the dust; from literally a ‘nobody’ company, to an integral part of our culture and business at large.

Aside from the impact that Google has on our personal lives, what impact has it had on the landscape of business?

Impact 1: Putting customers in charge

Google is an integral part of the information age. Having all the information in the world would be useless unless we had a powerful way to sort it. Google’s mission statement is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” This means that customers have access to an abundance of information to aid in their decision making process.

Example 1: Reviews

A good example of information that puts the customer in control is the ability to access and contribute to reviews. In the past, when a disgruntled customer came out of a business having had a bad experience, they might go complain to their family or friends. However, in the modern online landscape, if someone is really unhappy, they can post a negative review of their former business in Google Places or on various social media channels.

This means that new, prospective customers are able to learn about the experience they might have with a business prior to it happening. If a particular business doesn’t improve its experience, then it will begin to lose customers due to negative reviews.

Example 2: Product knowledge

In today’s digital world customers can educate themselves about a product during the buying process. Often customers have already educated themselves about your product offering and can be more savvy as a result.

Impact 2: Google’s advertising platforms and organic results shape business exposure

Another interesting impact of Google on business relates to the functionality of the search engine itself. Aside from the indirect impacts mentioned above, Google also influences the attention that businesses receive based on the search engine results themselves.

Example

Imagine you offer a common service, such as being a removalist in Sydney. Like any mature market, there are two things going on in your industry:

  1. There are a lot of competitors vying for your business
  2. There is a lot of potential business going around.

If you use Google to search for a keyword like ‘removalists Sydney’, this is what you’ll see:

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While there are hundreds of removalist companies operating in Sydney, only the top few get most of the attention from searches. The remaining websites and companies are, for all intents and purposes, invisible to valuable users searching for this service.

Thus—unlike how business has generally evolved in mature industries like this, where the work can be spread more or less equally between the companies involved—Google severely alters and shapes how attention flows to businesses based on how it ranks websites in search. Anyone not ranking on this page is not going to get traffic from Google for searches related to removals.

Conclusion:

Google has altered the old standard quid pro quo of business. The impact of this is that businesses who learn to be savvy in their online marketing can reap rewards as they leave their competitors behind.