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Friday, April 06, 2007

Marry Me Google! Is it True Love or Commitment?

I've decided to take the plunge and ask Google to marry me. If we ever divorce it will be very painful to extract myself from all the connnections and tie-ins and find replacement services and tools. I know, I know - most will say I'm doing it for the money. I can't deny that the Adsense check every month is nice, but it's not just the money that has me head over heals in love. It's being connected on a deep soul satisfying level.

Webmaster Central shares nearly everything about my web sites with me. It's great to be able to tell the world whatever is on my mind through blogger, and amazing to be able to share photos over my mobile phone to the blog. I can't believe how wonderful it is to search things that are important to me with my multiple Google Custom Search Engines (1) (2) (3). I absolutely love the branded site-search to help me keep my own sites in order and help my visitors find everything they need without leaving my sites. I could never live without that searchable gmail that reminds me all the ways we're connected - and what about that toolbar that shares details about every site I visit?

When did I realize I was hopelessly in love? When a friend convinced me that I should post my photos to (Yahoo owned) Flickr and I immediately wondered if (Google owned) Picasa offered the same type of service. (Not the same, but similar.)

How did we reach this point in our relationship? What makes me so loyal and devoted? Let's start way back in early 2000 when I saw a post at some forum or other asking "What is your Favorite Search Engine?" and at that point, I didn't actually have a favorite - but at least I knew there were lots of choices. So I immediately did a series of searches at Yahoo, Fast, AllTheWeb, AltaVista and a newcomer that had just caught my eye in the past week called Google.

Wow, I was charmed immediately by the speed of the results page! And check out those clean lines, no advertising and not a banner ad to be seen. A search box and a funny "I'm Feeling Lucky!" button that I tried and got great results! I loved the simplicity, speed and that "Feeling Lucky" sense of humor.

That quirky "Do No Evil" mantra made me a believer. I really like it, Yes, I think I'm falling for Google! Yes, I believe this actually could become my favorite search engine!

I could go on forever about all the ways I love Google, but the metaphor is already stretched thin. Let's talk about this in a dispassionate way without metaphorical references.

Right up front I'll say that the biggest reason I'm attatched to Google is that, as an SEO, I see between 50% to 80% of search referrals come from Google - so until the others get their numbers above the measley 10% to 25% or search referral traffic, I simply won't care so much about them as I do for Google. When you optimize for Google, the others come straggling along as well. But on the personal side, it's a different thing. I think they just do most things better than the competition. Clearly, nobody says I'm going to MSN Live it" or "Go Yahoo it". Nope, "Google It" means search it.

I'm a Mac guy, so there are reasons to both hate, and to love Google. I use a Windows PC at work and routinely use all the functionality that is supported by Google on that platform. But at home on the Apple machine, I get an annoying message in Safari browser when I go to Google Spreadsheets and Docs. It says, "Your browser is not supported" when I want to open a Word document sent to me by email. I CAN'T OPEN IT on my mac without Google Spreadsheets and Docs because I don't use Microsoft Word on the Mac.

OK, I can open Firefox for Mac and access Google Spreadsheets and Docs, so I do that. But Google has been ignoring us until lately, when we got Google Earth a year or so ago, and just this week were given Google Desktop Search! That Google Mac Blog is a welcome sight as well.

Even though Picasa photo app is not Mac Friendly, we don't really need that because iPhoto is better anyway, if not quite as web friendly and fast. But now PicasaWeb works from inside iPhoto to upload photos! Cool.

So as the announcement came that Google had released MyMaps this week, and Danny Sullivan pointed out in the Daily Searchcast that Yahoo and MSN already offer the same feature and have for some time now - I realized that I was committed. I'm already married to Google! I no longer want to check out the competition in many cases.

If Yahoo or MSN release a new service, I usually go give it a try. Most often I'm underwhelmed or it just isn't as good as the comparable Google tool. This happened to me with Yahoo maps and early versions didn't have Google Maps Satellite views, didn't have that cool drag to move function and simply couldn't find many addresses I entered. I gave up and have used Google Maps ever since.

Recently I saw a co-worker using Yahoo maps and all that functionality was now there, plus a few additional features Google Maps doesn't offer. (Warning, metaphors approaching) I strayed and started seeing Yahoo again.

Then a few weeks back when Yahoo / Overture suddently dropped the public keyword research tool and that made news, I started to look around for sexier tools and went out a few times with MSN Labs keyword research tools - Wow! That's a hot service!

But I feel disloyal. I want my dear Google to have a better keyword research tool.

It's too late - I realize that Google's got me. I know it's irrational, but my heart already belongs to Google. Will You Marry Me Google? I'm completely committed metaphorically, but maybe I should be committed, literally.

Mike Valentine is an SEO Specialist offering occassional commentary on Search Engine Developments through his Reality SEO Blog and developed WebSite101 Small Business Ecommerce Tutorial in 1999 to help educate the little guy to the intricacies of online business.

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