One of the more interesting things to consider in light of the Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) announcement is who will be the winners, and who will be the losers. We do view Google as one of the winners, but this post will focus more on the winners and losers among those who implement CSEs.
As always, the ability to generate an audience is a key factor in success. So there will be an aspect of the rich getting richer here. Sites with large audiences will be better equipped to develop large audiences for their CSEs. But fret not small site owner, there is an opportunity for you too.
Users on the web are increasingly intolerant of selfish behavior. They greatly prefer to give things to people who give back (or who gave first). So people who implement CSEs that prmote their own site, and cut out all their competitors will be exposed over time.
Many site owners will be tempted to use this approach. But it is not the approach that provides users with the best search engine results. Users will figure that out, and stop using a CSE that is developed in this fashion.
The winners in the CSE game will ultimately be the ones who develop the highest quality results. That means including, and in fact, boosting the results of, some of their competitors. Yes, excluding “competitors” who run true spam sites will be OK – they are not helping users.
Developing a high quality CSE will require investment. While most businesses with a web presence study their competition at least somewhat, it’s a different thing to focus on tuning a search engine. Some very complicated markets will require a pretty substantial investment.
When disruptive events occur in a market, and we believe the advent of the CSEs is such an event, opportunities are created for those who see the long term landscape first. This happens over and over again in the industry.
After all, Google itself is an example of a company that emerged from nowhere by seeing the search landscape in a new way, and executing on it first. Well the search landscape has changed again.
Now I am not saying that implementing a CSE is going to make anyone a billion dollar company. But it is an opportunity to steal a march on your competition.