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Watch Out! Google Is Now a Publisher

Zagat LogoIf you did not hear the news, a few weeks ago Google purchased Zagat, one of the largest and most respected media companies devoted to restaurant reviews (see the company announcement here).  Most reviews of the buyout, like this one from the NY Times, were focused on how Zagat’s user-generated reviews fit quite nicely with Google’s focus on localized search, which now can go head-to-head against services like Yelp.

To me, it’s something a bit more.

To publishers and content marketers, the purchase means that Google is now positioning itself as a creator of content.  Dare I say, a publisher.

Long has Google preached the “do no evil” mantra…that the tools that Google creates are all about distributing content to help people solve problems. Do no evil or not, Google now both distributes and creates the content.  With the purchase of Zagat, Google will be distributing it’s own content among the other brands and media companies vying for attention and service offerings.

Google – The Publisher

So, what should you take away from this?  Here are my thoughts:

  • This is just the start for Google.  Watch for them to start buying up more niche publishers where it makes sense to them.  They won’t yet buy larger publishers because the government is watching them, but smaller, special-interest publishers like Zagat probably won’t throw any alarms to Washington.
  • Although Google’s mantra is to remain neutral, it seems only a matter of time that they’ll start to promote their content over other pieces of content.  For example, if you go to using Internet Explorer, there is now a big button on the upper right urging you to download Google Chrome.
  • Don’t rely on Google alone for your content.  At the Content Marketing Institute, the majority of our traffic comes from the thousands of referral sites that ARE NOT Google.  Putting all your content eggs in the Google basket is like putting your entire stock portfolio into one stock holding.
Full disclosure: I’m a Google shareholder.
What say you?