Google is undoubtedly the dominant Search Engine. Google had 67% of the search market in Dec 2013. It provides comprehensive coverage of the web with the stated aim of providing great relevancy of results. However, Google search results for the same search can be different for different users in different locations and depending whether a user is logged into their Google account at the time. Google is also a provider of unpaid results to some other search engines.
In 2011, 2012 and 2013, Google made major changes to the ranking “algorithm” that it uses with the aim of penalising “spam” and rewarding great content. These updates were called Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird. These updates have had serious impact on many spammy sites but have also caused “collateral damage” to some very good websites.
Google operates a paid placement advertising programme, ‘Google Adwords’. This cost-per-click programme places ads on Google as well as Google’s partners (called AdSense). In some Google searches the ads dominate the first page of results and it can be difficult to see which are the ads and which are the unpaid ‘organic’ results. 95% of Google’s revenue comes from advertising (Dec 2013).
In addition to search services, Google offers a whole raft of other free services such as Gmail, Analytics, Webmaster Tools, Google Maps, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Photos and more.
Google + is Google’s social media platform and this is being increasingly integrated with other services like Gmail and YouTube in order to encourage (or force) people to use it instead of Facebook and other social platforms. A Google + business page can impact positively on search rankings for websites.
In addition to affecting rankings, having users logged into a Google account allows Google to collect information about browsing patterns so that highly targeted Ads can be presented to that user. More targeted ads mean a better click through rate and therefore more revenue and a bigger profit for Google shareholders.