When Google decided this week to shut down Google Labs, people who analyze these things scratched their heads, and then mostly opined that Google was shuttering Labs to concentrate on core business opportunities.
True enough. But then something else happened that brought into focus where that core is: Google is Killing the Google Toolbar.
This isn’t really that big a deal when viewed in its own right. As Google points out, quite a bit of what’s “in” the Google Toolbar is handled directly by browsers; in many ways the Google Toolbar has become redundant.
But it’s a misdirect. As Danny Sullivan pointed out at Search Engine Land, Google Toolbar wasn’t delivered out of the goodness of Google’s heart. Google gave us the Google Toolbar because it gave them a way to track everything its users do, thereby delivering more data to Google upon which they could build their Search Engine business, which drives their advertising business (which contributes well over 90% of Google’s total revenue).
In other words, the Google Toolbar was all about Search Engine Optimization. Not the kind of SEO that we do for our clients, but “using the Search Engine Business to Optimize everything Google does”.
Let me be clear about something: Google hasn’t officially announced the death of Google Toolbar; they’ve only said that starting in the latest version of Firefox they won’t be supporting it. But if there’s no more Google Toolbar for Firefox there won’t be any more Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer, either. And why?
Because Google’s decided that they have more to gain by pushing us all toward their own browser (Chrome) then they gain from tracking our movements as we use other browsers. They feel so strongly about this, they’re willing to stop collecting the data that users of other browsers have been feeding them through the Google Toolbar.
Google, in short, has decided that they’ve collected enough data.
Google’ s in the data business. There’s no such thing as “enough”. Unless they believe that what they can collect from this point forward is statistically accurate enough to make what anyone else contributes unmeaningful.
Which screams “Monopoly!”. Up until very recently I’ve defended Google against such charges. Now, I think I’m going to have to go the other way. Google Fears Anti-Trust Charges for a very good reason; they’re no longer interested in their competition. Because Google Has No Competition.
I could leave you there, but I feel as though I’d be missing an opportunity for us both if I didn’t remind you that in that environment you need Search Engine Optimization more than ever.