Since first stepping onto the scene (or, into our computers) nearly 20 years ago, Google has completely changed the way people find and receive information — this much is obvious. Less apparent is the fact that it also paved the way for seemingly every other popular website launched after it. Even behemoths like Facebook and Amazon can’t wait to replicate Google’s newest features, racing to produce similar tools that are in some way better or more advanced than the original.
Despite their best efforts, it is impossible to deny that the search engine giant continues to rule atop the World Wide Web food chain. Google’s shows no signs of relinquishing its dominance anytime soon either. Even in a haze of zoo-themed algorithm updates (hello Penguin, Panda and Phantom), they still find subtle but impactful ways to remind everyone who really remains supreme online.
Google’s recent addition of “quick tools” into results pages serves as the most recent example. Another upgraded feature designed to increase speed and convenience, commonly requested tools (like HEX color codes or an online calculator) are now being integrated into the top of the results pages. When one considers Google’s long-time goal of delivering the fastest, most-relevant results possible, this move makes a lot of sense.
Yet, how much is this at the expense of those who created feature in the first place? I recently performed a Google search to find FedEx’s tracking website. Upon pressing ‘enter,’ a tool for looking up package codes promptly displayed at the very top of the results page above FedEx’s own website. The quick tools feature definitely made tracking my shipment far easier and more convenient but also kept my web experience solely within Google — despite it being clear that the original intent was to end up on the FedEx website.
This power move is a simple but powerful one. How does a website outrank Google, even with the biggest of budget? Answer: they can’t. The prominent placement of integrated quick tools demonstrates that Google wants all eyes on them and has the power to make it so. If history serves as a teacher (and it usually does), one can expect that more features will continue to be added into the results pages while other A-list websites scramble to catch up.
Who will be first to release something similar, you ask? Only time will tell, but my money is on Facebook.