Right now, Google is threatening to pull its search engine from the Australian market in response to the Commonwealth Government’s proposed media code that would require Google and others to pay local news networks for content that is republished.
The purpose of this article is not to express a view on what should or shouldn’t happen, or who is right and who is wrong, but merely to ask a very pertinent question for Australian business: Is it time to reduce dependency on Google?
If, for whatever reason now or in the future, Google suspended or terminated its operations in Australia, how would your business fare?
What percentage of your business is repeat business vis-à-vis new business?
If you get a lot of new business, what percentage of that business comes from Google?
And of that, what percentage is derived from organic search results, rather than Adwords (ie. Search Engine Marketing or SEM)?
If you do get a lot of repeat business, how easy is it for people to remember who you are and how to get in touch with you?
Good business leaders plan for redundancy
Relying on Google, Facebook, Amazon or any other provider too much will expose your business to a certain degree of risk. Such providers are in fact suppliers. Some such suppliers have the ability to significantly disrupt your business with the flick of a policy switch. Is it a good idea to rely on just one or two suppliers? Or is it smarter to plan for redundancy?
Take back control with the right domain name
If you have the right domain name, people will easily remember it and type it directly into the search bar. No Google required. No competitors listed alongside you. People go straight to your web site, bypassing Google altogether.
The right domain name in Australia is .com.au or .net.au for commercial entities. These extensions mean immediate trust and credibility in the Australian marketplace. Not even .com (the US extension) has these attributes as it is only appropriate for Australian business seeking to attract an international rather than Australian audience. Google itself knows this, which is why it uses Google.com.au in Australia, not Google.com.
The right domain name generally means no hyphens, misspellings or lexical aberrations. Accommodation-Northern-Beaches.com.au fails the ‘radio test’ (and makes word of mouth very difficult) as when read aloud the word ‘hyphen’ must be included. Minnix.com.au fails for similar reasons. ‘Is that a M or an N?’ ‘One N or two?’
Thirdly, the right domain name also means the right business name, or brand name. Calling your business Gamber simply because your kids names are Gavin and Amber and Gamber.com.au is available is a sure-fire way to be amongst the 60% of new businesses that fail within the first three years.
The next step
If your business has become over-reliant on Google, perhaps it is time to de-risk and diversify your channels. If you have neglected your website and relied too much on Adwords, now may be the time for an upgrade. A site with quality content will rank well with other search engines, like Bing for example. And if you don’t yet have the right domain name, now is the time to make it happen. This will allow you to reduce reliance on Google, Facebook, Amazon and other platforms.
McKinsey & Company provided this insight in 2015:
“As the largest platforms continue to solidify their positions as central gateways to customers, many companies are forced to sell their products or services on someone else’s platform. That calls for a careful strategy around pricing and value retention. Companies also have to ensure that their brand maintains its integrity and stands out from the crowd in an ecosystem not of their own design.”