What Does Google’s Structural Change to Alphabet Mean For Search and SEO?

Stephen McCance August 11, 2015

Google founder Larry Page made an announcement yesterday about the birth of holding company ‘Alphabet’. But what does this mean for Google? And, more importantly, what does it mean for SEO? Here we review the announcement and it’s implications.

Yesterday, an announcement was made by Google cofounder Larry Page about the restructuring of one of the largest and best recognised companies in the world. In the statement, Page announced that the global search engine would become a subsidiary of a newly formed company, which they have dubbed Alphabet. Whilst this is undoubtedly world news for such a household name, as search marketers, what we’re really concerned with, both for our clients, and ourselves is what this announcement means for us. Will it affect our day-to-day work? Could it impact client strategies? What implications are there for the future of SEO?

In short, we have concluded from Larry Page’s statement that the answer to these questions is…. well, no, no, and nothing! At least not for the moment.

Whilst Google is most commonly known as a search engine, the company has made no secret of the fact that the entrepreneurial spirit of founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin has also led them into other avenues of technological development. The aims of Google as a whole entity seem to have shifted from those it had at it’s inception, with announcements coming thick and fast over the past few years about new developments, services and products ranging from the Google Glass project to, most recently, autonomous cars that self-drive through the use of cameras and sensors. YouTube, Chrome, Google Broadband, Google Maps, Picasa, Blogger and Hangouts are all additional services that you’ve probably heard of, that are owned by Google as an entity – this is not to mention ‘Google X’ projects, Google Ventures, Google Capital (both investment channels) or Google Wing, many of which exist largely under the radar. A company that once aimed to make information more widely available and accessible to the masses is now aiming to change the world through technology, having largely achieved it’s initial objective to universal acclaim. What we are seeing with this announcement is Google officially becoming what it has already evolved into over time – a group of companies.

Google is now at a point where many of the additional services, products and wider objectives are ready to exist as their own entities independent of the original search engine offering. We believe that this move has come due to a need for increased visibility to Google’s investors and shareholders, who have occasionally seen cause to grumble about the availability of certain information pertaining to the new products and services that are constantly in development. By changing to the holding company Alphabet, they can give investors further information about individual parts of the holding company without having to release information on other aspects. They are also allowing themselves the option of selling off individual entities within the group should they so wish at a later date – something that would have been difficult, both legally and logistically, with everything contained under Google.

In terms of SEO, the move to Alphabet will present nothing in the way of change to processes or what Google expects within its best practice guidelines for search. Google the search engine will remain identical to its former self – retaining its name, URL and algorithms. The only change really comes in the form of the appointment of Sundar Pichai as Google’s new CEO. Pichai has been a pivotal part of the Google team for years and within the announcement it was revealed that he has been heading up products and engineering since October last year, supervised by Page. With his appointment as CEO, the search engine side of the company now has a dedicated resource moving the company forward. Whilst Page and Brin have had responsibility for Google as a whole, they, arguably, will have had little time to focus solely on it in light of having so many other areas of interest within the group. Having someone dedicated to it may have some effects in the mid to long term, as it may mean that new changes to algorithms and best practices are able to be rolled out quicker that they previously would have been. Such a high profile appointment could also see Pichai ramping up efforts to tighten search results in a bid to prove himself as up to ‘Page/Brin’ standard – they are, after all, big shoes to fill!

With the focus most recently being strongly on mobile search, we would predict that any upcoming changes could likely be within this sector of search – perhaps expanding on the mobile-friendly algorithm change that was rolled out back in April of this year. For the time being, however, we can’t see the change over to Alphabet having much of an affect on SEO and the search industry.

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