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  • Writer's pictureNorm McLaughlin

Goodbye Google Search?

Updated: Sep 10, 2023

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Can you imagine a world without Google search?

You may have heard about Google's threat to remove it's search function from Australia. I recently wrote about this for the Australian News Daily Bulletin. Read on for my thoughts.

As reported in the media last week, Google is considering switching off its search function for Australian users if a proposed media bargaining code becomes law here. Such an action would clearly have huge implications for Australian internet users, both business and residential.

The background to the current standoff between Google and the federal government is the government’s plans to introduce legislation requiring tech giants Google and Facebook to pay for news content provided by Australian media companies. Google’s Australian managing editor Mel Silva told a Senate hearing last week, “If the Code becomes law, Google would have no real choice but to stop providing Search in Australia.”

Whilst the threat of Australian internet users losing Google Search entirely is at the extreme end of the spectrum of possibilities, you would imagine there may be alternatives. For example, Google could choose to restrict certain sites, or categories. In particular they could restrict news sites, given the context of the current dispute. Or they could restrict search to paid advertising only. In other words, all search would become paid search.

The potential loss of Google Search may seem to many of us like the equivalent of losing a limb. However, we need to keep in mind that it wouldn’t mean the loss of all internet search. Google has become so synonymous with search on the internet that use of the word ‘Googling’ has become a routine expression in our everyday lives. This is not surprising given Google’s overwhelming share of the search market.

As reported by the BBC, Google has about 90-95% of the search engine market share in Australia, as is also the case in the rest of the world. However, Google is not the only search engine out there. In particular, Microsoft’s Bing search engine is the default on their Microsoft Edge browser which comes as standard with Windows 10. The loss of Google Search in Australia would clearly provide a great opportunity for Bing, which would undoubtedly take over Google’s mantle here. It would also provide the opportunity for greater competition from other search providers, such as Yahoo and DuckDuckGo, as well as other lesser known providers.

Microsoft’s offerings in internet search may not be as well-known or as popular as Google’s but they are no less effective. I’ve already mentioned Bing Search as an alternative to Google Search. I’ve also written recently about Microsoft Advertising and about Bing Places for Business. These are Microsoft’s alternatives to Google Ads and Google My Business respectively, providing similar functionality to Google’s offerings.

Read the rest at the Daily Bulletin.

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