Google Threat to Pull Search Engine From Australia Could Kill Businesses

22 January, 2021

9 mins read

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Google has threatened to switch off their search engine to Australia if the Australian Government goes ahead with proposed media bargaining code law. The Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison has hit back today saying they will not respond to threats.

“Let me be clear, Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia. That’s done in our Parliament,” the Prime Minister said.

“It’s done by our government and that’s how things work here in Australia, and people who want to work with that, in Australia, you’re very welcome.”

Localsearch’s Director of Digital & Growth, Adam Boote, has said Google cutting off Australia would actually cause a bigger problem for the government. 

“Google is one of the biggest lead generators for businesses in the digital age,” Mr Boote said.

“Australia has more than 2.3 million businesses who have already been seeing it tough in the last few years. Google no longer being available to them to market will kill them.” 

What is the Australian Media Code proposing?

The Australian Government draft media code would require technology giants, like Google and Facebook, to negotiate payment between themselves and digital media companies for content. Australia’s Treasurer Josh Frydenburg says the codes are designed to enhance consumer protection and support a sustainable Australian media landscape, where digital platforms have been dominating.

“What we’ve sought to do is create a level playing field to ensure a fair go for Australian news media businesses and that when they generate original content, they are fairly paid for it,” Mr Frydenberg. 

“We want it to be in accordance with our law and we want it to be fair, and that is what has motivated us with this mandatory code.” 

While media outlets, like Nine, have reported they believe there would long-term benefits and welcome these proposals, the fall out could be detrimental to Australian businesses who would need to pay for the implementation.

What would happen if Google turned off their search engine to Australia.

Businesses would instantly lose one of their largest sources of leads and sales.

In December 2020, Google received 91.28% of online searches. The rest are divided between Bing, Yahoo!, Baidu, YANDEX and other unnamed search engines. 

While search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) can be done on other platforms, like Bing, Google is the primary focus of these activities. If Google turns off their search engine, businesses will be required to start from scratch with their marketing.

This is a big loss in a climate we currently face during a global pandemic. Search engines were one of the biggest ways businesses were able to survive and reach consumers.

For example, one of our own clients was able to shift their focus using Google Ads in as little as a day and make a $28 return on every $1 invested. They would not have been able to do this without Google. 

Even in an every day market, businesses will lose the exposure and leads they receive through organic and paid Google results. It would mean they would also lose the valuable business generated through Google My Business

Businesses would lose valuable marketing gains.

Organic Google searches are one of the only platforms where even the smallest business can compete with the big corporations. You don’t need money to compete if you know what you’re doing. If you are a newer business, this could be the make or break for your business.

Now, imagine you don’t have the money to invest in paid marketing just yet, so you’re relying on building your organic — and then the organic methods are taken away. Where are you left standing?

However, even those businesses who can afford to utilise search engine marketing will also suffer. When using paid search platforms, like Google Ads, the platform takes time to get to know your business, your consumers and the relationship between you. Over time, you’ll receive better results as the platform learns where to push your ads. If Google were to leave, you’ll have to start over.

Consumers will be divided in where to look for information.

“I need to find the name of that cheese I had that night.” “Google it!” “What actually happened in the election?” “Google it.”

Google has become synonymous with finding what you need. Even our phones and computers default to Google. Where will you find your information now?

While there are other search engines out there, the media code will impact other search engines too. These search engines will be paying media outlets for news, which could lead to top positioning being claimed by those who pay the most. So, the information you see may not be the most relevant, but simply the outlet with the most information to spend.

For all media or business enquiries regarding the above, please contact Adam Boote, Localsearch Director of Digital & Growth, is also available for statement regarding this matter.

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