Suncoast Web Solutions

What happens if Google pulls search out of Australia

At the end of last week, Google announced it would pull “search services out of Australia”. This was in response to a government hearing in to media agencies wanting to be paid for syndicated content. After this came to light we have been fielding emails from concerned customers. Rightfully so our customers are concerned how it would affect their businesses. Since the concern was as high as it is we figure it is better address these concerns in this article.

Before you read on, here is a couple of Video’s from Google about the issue we are talking about below:

And their proposed solution if they were to not pull out of Australia is visible here.

What was Googles Exact Comment?

Google Australia & New Zealand Managing Director, Mel Silva said “If this version of the code were to become law, it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia.”

What impact could this have on Australian Businesses?

The impact is going to vary from business to business. For the sake of this article, lets assume we are talking about those who are actively promoting their business online. The ACCC reportedly came up with a figure of which search traffic in Australia was handled by Google. This figure was 95%! While this accounts for almost every search, it doesn’t cater for search carried out on Social Media channels, which really pushes this figure right down.

Ultimately the initial impact would mean that AdWords campaigns would be switched off, for Australian traffic anyway. Organic Search, which businesses would also worry about as they pay for “SEO Services” to get good rankings in would also potentially drop. It could potentially kill businesses if they are not aware of this change. One minute they go from getting good traffic to no or little traffic.

What will happen with the traffic that normally uses Google Search?

The good news is that the effect will not be perminent for a lot of businesses. In fact, some businesses will stand to gain significantly as a result of this change. A lot of people who get SEO done to their website get a majority of their success in Google search results. This is mainly because the people providing the service will only target Google and associate their performance based on that single search engine. They should be targetting ALL major search engines. Suncoast Web Solutions does target the major search engines which includes Google, Bing, Yahoo! and DuckDuckGo. However we are one of the very few companies that do.

The traffic that once searched through Google would be forced to go to other solutions or platforms to do their searching. This would include the likes of Bing, Yahoo! and DuckDuckGo. If they went to other platforms you would potentially see a massive increase of search done on Social Media platforms. This means that ultimately the traffic will not disappear  as such. It will simply be redistributed to other platforms or search providers.

What options do website owners have with regards to SEO and Paid Ads?

Search Engines like Bing and Yahoo! have Paid Ad services. The unfortunate thing is that they are not as comprehensive as Google AdWords. Then for a few search engines like DuckDuckGo there is no paid ad services and their ranking algorithms are completely different to those of traditional search engines.

In relation to SEO as a service, it would be able to continue, the direction would just naturally change. The short term affects on businesses who rely on good rankings would be potentially devistating but with patience they will come back.

Should business owners be concerned right now?

It is always a concern when something so significant could happen to a marketplace that is extremely successful. There is a few factors that will curve the likelyhood of this going ahead. One of these factors includes the fact Google earns way to much from us Aussies. It is estimated that businesses in Australia spend $43b per year in Paid Search (aka AdWords). To lose this income is a fairly big pill to swallow for any company.

The next option Google have is that they could simply omit news media and links from search results like they did in Spain just a few years ago. Facebook, who were also in this hearing announced that they could simply just remove all news content from their platform. This is a clear option for Google as well.

Putting these 2 factors in to consideration alone would suggest it is nothing to be concerned about. A smart move in this situation would be to simply prepare other solutions. Hold discussions with the likes of Suncoast Web Solutions on what other plans or steps could be taken in the event Google does pull out.

We are advising customers that “yes, it is a concern at this point in time but it may not take place”. We are of course not Google or the Government so it could go either way. Keep in mind as well that Google recently had a similar situation in France.

We can setup plans of action and start taking action with those plans. Website owners need to keep in mind that ditching Google out of an Internet Marketing plan would be foolish. They are not out and they have certainly not said it is a done deal.

A few parting thoughts…

Google are not going to give up a cashcow for the sake of news/media outlets. They only accounted for just under 2% of total search traffic. The cashcow in the tune of $4.8 Billion AUD and a tax bill of $59 Million AUD is too good an opportunity for them.

In 2014, Spain had their news tab (Google News) and its associated content removed from the Google offering to spanish consumers. This was due to a new law that would allow Spanish publishers to charge Google from showing any content from their publications. Then the recent agreement that has been reached with the French government. It seems unlikely that they will pull the pin. An interesting question is, “what would have taken place if Google had turned the issue around and wanted to charge the news/media outlets for their content to be indexed?”

Our fearless Prime Minister put his 2 cents in on this one. Mr Morrison stated in a recent news conference “we don’t respond to threats” when asked about Googles’ threat to shutdown the service. He didn’t say there wasn’t room for negotiation so thats a positive.

Let’s see how this all unfolds. For now, hang in there and watch everyone involved dance around the issue until they are all happy.


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