A looong way back in time (in search, anyway) I wrote about Google buying Beat That Quote. At the time, the big splash in the pond was about the fact that Google rapidly banned them from the SERPs because of their dodgy link buying. Of course, the real story ran a little deeper than that: Google were buying the infrastructure necessary to run their own comparison engine.
Once you’ve decided to click that, you’re into a fully-fledged quote system, just like that offered by Gocompare, Money Supermarket etc.
Does this matter? Well yes. The screw down on non-brands gets ever harder. For ‘car insurance’ on a reasonable laptop monitor there is precisely one ‘free’ organic listing visible above the fold. Everything else on the screen is monetised by Google. I put ‘free’ in quote marks, because the amount of money that will have been spent on getting that ranking will have been huge – whether you believe in the power of brand signals or pureplay link buying that #1 represents a fortune in spend.
We know that Google are going to be moving into new car sales in the UK soon (presaged by their offering in the US) and the pattern is now clear:
- Google indentifies a vertical
- Google acquires an operator in the space
- Google re-tools the infrastructure
- Google screws down the SERPs in favour of brands
- Google inserts their own offering in an enhanced space
This is spreading from vertical to vertical. If it hasn’t hit you yet, then it’s only a matter of time before it does.