Google's Purchase of Frommer's is All About Mobile
Is Google now a competitor to publishers?
Well yes, by definition, now that it has bought Frommer's travel guide publishing from John Wiley and Sons.
This obviously makes Google a content publisher in its own right. And that creates industry waves with concerns about issues such as conflict of interest, anti-trust, and vertical integration. And rightly so: publishers that count on Google to deliver audience to their sites might justly question whether they will lose ranking in favor of Google-owned content. If this is the direction the search giant intends to take, content providers everywhere have reason to be concerned.
But from an SEO standpoint, the move by Google less a signal of its intent to dominate in the world of content, and more a response to the challenges of mobile search.
Consider this: Google tells us that 20% of their searches have local intent; that number soars to 40-50% when the search is conducted on a mobile device. And while Google dominates—you might say monopolizes—browser-based mobile search with an estimated 97% of the market, a comScore study from earlier this year indicates that almost half of mobile local search happens in apps, not in search engines at all. Add this to the fact that the volume of local mobile search is doubling each year, and you have a lot of numbers adding up to a search engine giant needing to adapt to changing realities or risk losing market dominance.
Enter Zagat and Frommer's. If the future of mobile search is tied to apps, reviews, location-based knowledge, and the recommendations of friends, then Google has responded. Last fall's purchase of Zagat led to the May rollout of Google+Local, which brings together peer reviews from Zagat, social media with Google+, and the location-based Google's Maps.
Frommer's ups the ante with professionally-authored content, and gives another indication of the direction in which Google is looking. But travel is the tip of the mobile iceberg. Whatever direction that mobile users are moving, there are few companies better positioned than Google to know about it, and its importance to search.
Linda Ruth, as president of PSCS Consulting (www.PSCSConsulting.com), offers communication companies worldwide the keys to magazine launches, search engine optimization and audience development online and at retail. She is a pioneer in the fields of Online Audience Optimization (OAO) and gamification for content publishers. Her books, "Internet Marketing for Magazine Publishers" ; "How to Market your Newsstand Magazine"; and "Secrets of SEO for Publishers" can be found on Amazon. Find her online at Google Plus, Magazine Dojo, LinkedIn, and Twitter @Linda_Ruth.