Thanks to a ground-breaking agreement between Dell and Google, SEO may soon be a mainstream topic of conversation. Dell, the world’s leading maker of personal computers, has announced that it is testing a pre-installed package of Google software, including a Google-powered Dell home page, Google Desktop Search, and a Google Toolbar.
While the home page and Desktop Search will be an undeniable boost to Google’s share of the Search market, and maybe even a threat to Microsoft’s desktop dominance, it’s the pre-installation of the Google Toolbar that will be of most interest to SE marketers and optimizers around the world.
Currently a specialist ‘industry tool’ used predominantly by SE practitioners, the Google Toolbar may soon be automatically available to hundreds of thousands of mainstream computer users. As a result, Google PageRank and, by extension, search engine marketing and optimization look set to become part of mainstream vocabulary. (Well, maybe that’s a little optimistic… Perhaps they’re more likely to become part of the vocab of the computer savvy mainstream.)
So what does this all mean to SEO and SEM? In my humble opinion, the four most important implications of the Dell-Google agreement are:
1) Business decision makers will finally ‘get’ SEO
Although not overly helpful to SEMs and SEOs, Google PageRank is an ideal hook for busy decision makers. It’s very simple (in that it’s just a mark out of ten) and measurable, and it’s just THERE; you don’t have to go out of your way to see the PageRank of a site. It’s exactly what decision makers need to get their collective heads around SEO. They don’t have the time or inclination to understand the complexities of SERPs, IBLs, spiders, indexing, keyword phrases, metatags, article PR, SEO copywriting, etc. For better or worse, PageRank eliminates all shades of gray, leaving the two colors many decision makers understand best: black and white.
2) Business will become aware of the importance of PageRank
While most business decision makers are aware that a good search engine ranking is good for business, they’re not yet aware that a bad PageRank is bad for business. But with the Google Toolbar at their disposal, they soon will be. Decision makers will immediately start to use PageRank as a one-shot assessment of the credibility and authority of every website they visit. And in the process, they’ll become painfully aware of what their own PageRank says about their company.
3) Business will be more Search-proactive
Once decision makers realize that a bad PageRank is bad for business, they’ll be more likely to be proactive about their search engine ranking.
4) More businesses will dedicate a budget to Search
PageRank will become just a part of ‘doing business’. Just like TV, radio, and newspapers, it will be proactively communicating with decision makers, each and every day. While the mechanics of a high search ranking will remain a mystery to most, the Search DOMAIN will no longer be considered a black art, and SEMs and SEOs will no longer be considered witch-doctors. This will make decision makers far more comfortable dedicating a budget to Search (especially as they now have something measurable to grab a hold of – see point 1 above).
It appears that Google has once again made a very astute business decision. For better or worse, they’ve improved their position in Search and made significant inroads into the desktop software market. Will they threaten Microsoft’s desktop dominance? We’ll have to wait ‘n see. Will they enrich the SEM / SEO industry? In my humble opinion, yes! Google may not be everyone’s favorite search engine, but if they bring PageRank into the mainstream, the Search industry will finally attract the percentage of corporate advertising spend it deserves.
(See http://australianit.news.com.au/articles/0,7204,18080942%5E15306%5E%5Enbv%5E,00.html for further details of the Dell-Google agreement.)