Google in 1998, showing the original logo
Image via Wikipedia

When discussing how to create and transact business online – the idea of reaching a new potential visitor and customer to your website, and building a relationship with them is an exciting one. And, a frustrating one.

True for all businesses – young or old.

WHERE does that new connection first happen? Is it a via downloadable app, an ad, iAd, via a social network or group, email, search engines, a WordPress theme? (and a multitude of other options)

There are many ways to lead the horse to water, so to speak.

But – can you make him drink?

Here’s what Google did, but more importantly what they must do (just like YOU).

When Google first was planned, built, and subsequently launched, the founders (Brin & Page) decided to make something different. For simplicity’s sake – call this their USP. (Unique Selling Point). Something that completely stood out, and away from all existing technologies, both from a technical infrastructure standpoint, as well as the user experience and later, monetization (ads).

One of their key assets and that was much talked about, was the home page. The main entry point for any interaction with the super-cool search engine to be. I do recall seeing it for the first time in 1999-2000 (thereabouts), and thought it was very simple – almost too simple. One of our software engineers at the time thought it was just “powerful”.

We know the rest of the story.

This is one of the huge welcoming signs for Go...
Image via Wikipedia

The following 10 years have been amazing. Google now indexes (stores) billions of pages, serves billions of searches every month, millions of happy users across the globe, and still – the very simple one-box input form. That is a helluva landing page – and standing strong still, but – not without some shaking in the owners pants.

The social network.

The rise of social media and the people networks have come into play. The increasing demands on human interaction online and the infrastructures that serve them is scaling up fast. Facebook is serving a massive, growing community that wants more. While search is still ‘user-intent’ driven, Facebook also is working on search, has a strong ad platform, and rolling out interface changes and apps – seemingly “all the time”.

Google’s promise.

Without getting too deep here, it’s obvious that Googleplex is aware of the changes. Both internally and externally. They have some of the smartest people on the planet. While some defect, and start other companies – they are going retain and recruit the best people and technologies to hit it hard into 2011. They have to, and are challenged by it.

What’s next?

These changes will come across multiple applications – and search is front and center. Google’s user experience is simple, but expertise and savvy users, along with companies like Facebook has set a new standard for how interaction works. Grandmothers and techno-challenged (sorry Grandma) people are getting around comfortably, and expect a richer user experience.

Google’s next big challenge is not increasing traffic and visibility. But, it’s building a much greater experience when the visitor does show up – and keeping them there. Google always has been a “stop-over” place. Find it, and click away.

So, Google must get the users involved at a new level. It’s going to be about experiencing this ‘new’ place. Create a user-centric destination, and with new home page to start it all off. Combine their massive data mining opportunities with community and personalization. Do it right where they already go –

Thanks for listening to my rant!


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Entrepreneur Magazine says Jon Rognerud is one of the most sought-after Digital Marketing Experts. His clients extend from high-end brands and middle-tier businesses in both B2B and B2C. His SEO website optimization book, "The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Website" from Entrepreneur Press is in bookstores now.