red line

Long Live Google. Google is [Not] Dead.

I’m not writing this blog in defense of Google. I don’t work for them. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that I work for you - B2B marketing leaders and team members. And in that respect, I care about Google in the same way that you do - I care about Google because - love, hate or indifference - so much of what we do in digital marketing, so much of what we achieve, is dependent on the the search engine.

There is a lot of change happening now (with more on the horizon) and I think that’s why I hear so many questions from clients asking – what should B2B marketers know and what should we do right now? 

The More Things Change…

It’s downright impossible to avoid Google in the news. Whether it’s reading about how AI will replace search as we know it, or what large language model-based search platform will finally knock Google off of it’s throne in the David-vs-Goliath moment of the century, new and still-emerging technologies are bringing more threats than ever before. There are even federal lawsuits – plural. With all of this in a 24/7 news cycle, there is a lot to parse through. 

Considering the current technologies available, there is competition coming from several angles. There’s AI, chatbots and social channels to name a few. Then there’s new platforms. Take the example of one – Arc Search. Similar to the position zero in Google, Arc Search doesn’t require a user to click through to a website to get the information queried. Instead, Arc Search displays the important information for the searcher all in one place right there on the page. This is a different experience for the user, however, as a marketer, your website content remains vital – the summation chosen from or about your website can convince a user to move forward into looking into your brand or move on.

The More They Stay the Same.

Google still has 90% market share. The importance of Google traffic has not changed for B2B companies I work with based on current audience behavior. 

Rewinding a few decades reminds us Google survived a not-insignificant company trying to take over as the search engine of preference. That company was not a start-up at all, but another behemoth – Microsoft – who failed miserably at the time and still lags far behind in search market share. (Ironically, Google argued one of the reasons it isn’t a monopoly today is that its product is simply preferred because it is far superior to MSN/Bing). 

Google’s search engine has always been in flux in big and small ways. There are algorithm changes (a Panda is not just a cute animal) and updates happening consistently that can and do affect your rankings in the SERPs (search engine results pages). But overall, things that make Google happy – fast load times, a secure site, serviceable content – are the same as they were a year ago AND they are the very experiences that your users are looking for.

As a digital marketing strategist, two KPIs I track that are part of every brand’s Digital Value are organic traffic users and top keywords ranking in the SERP. And guess how these are trending right now? They are still growing for B2B teams who have effective websites optimized for search and conversions, follow best practices, and keep up with consistent new content.

Action Items to Take 

From my vantage point, the first action item is to take a deep and collective breath. Because although on the one hand the adoption of new technologies is way faster than it once was (ChatGPT grew an audience in two months to the same size that it took social media channels two years to reach), our B2B audiences are not leading the way in how they find, research and purchase at work. We actually have the advantage of being able to see how B2C marketing changes before B2B marketing trends also twist and turn in new ways.

If we are doing it right, we are continuing to write and publish unique, valuable content for our target audience that ranks. Your team can and should utilize new technologies such as ChatGPT for blog drafts, or AI to help identify keywords and linking opportunities, but in the end it’s still producing the content that leads to results – website visits, engagements and conversions – that matters. 

The other vital action your marketing team needs to take right now? Track your KPIs and analyze what you are seeing. If you do this with website traffic, engagement, and leads from your top channels, you’ll notice trends and be able to act on them by adjusting accordingly before you have a problem on your hands.

So, with respect to where to put your effort, in this moment there is an opportunity to improve your website content to remain useful, relevant and helpful. Continue to try out new and different marketing channels and pay close attention to what your target audience is doing to find you (and your competitors). And for the time being, accept that Google’s importance has not diminished for B2B marketing – at least not today.

Related resources