Happy Birthday, Google!

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20 Business Lessons We Learned from Google

Today is Google's 20th birthday, which seems both shocking and inspiring.

In celebration of 20 years of amazing, we put together a list of 20 lessons we learned from Google over the years.

You can always do better

Just because someone is already in the market doesn't mean they're doing the best.

When Google came onto the scene, searching the web was hard. Seriously, web experts wrote entire books devoted to expert usage of search engines like Altavista.

Google came onto the scene and did one thing well: gave results that actually matched what you searched for. On that simple basis, Google's empire was born.

You can always do more

Google is always doing something new. They're constantly innovating into new areas. Whether it's voice search, building smartphones, providing email, or any of Google's other ventures, they just don't stop doing more.

Don't stay in your lane

Google didn't stick with just search. When they started offering email, people actually thought it was a joke. But it wasn't. When they released Android, they were laughed at. But now they dominate the market.

So when you're told to stay in your lane, consider this: what if Google had stopped at search?

People don't always know what they need

...but they do know what they want.

Finding a need you don't know you need makes you want the need you didn't know you needed or wanted.

Or, to rephrase in a derivative and less crazy way:

Build it and they will come.

20 years ago, we didn't know we wanted video sharing or voice assistants. Now everyone is talking to their phones and spending hours on YouTube each week.

Think big

Google released Gmail with a gigabyte of storage, 100 times more than everyone else offering 10 megabytes.

They didn't just release a notepad, they released a full office suite capable of competing with Microsoft Office.

They didn't just release a web browser, they released the fastest (at the time), most complete web browser on the market in Google Chrome.

They're working on self-driving cars, robot assistants, delivery drones, and much, much more. They think big, and sometimes they make it big too.

Have a good time

Celebrate. Have an enjoyable work environment. Eat good food. Drink good coffee. Play some games every now and then.

This positive culture spreads throughout the company and is reflected in Google's products, video advertising, and more.

Don't sit still

Google constantly changes and improves the products they release, in some cases despite user resistance. They recently released an entirely new interface for Google Ads (the main back-end for PPC, search engine marketing, display ads, and YouTube ads.) Gmail's new interface followed shortly after. And the capabilities of the Google office suite have grown drastically since their release. So don't sit still - keep improving.

Less is more

The classic Google home page offered a stark contrast with their competitors at the time, such as Yahoo, Excite, and Altavista. While the others papered their home pages with news feeds, images, and other junk, Google included a lone logo and search box. It communicated one simple message: search and we shall find.

Comparison of Google and Altavista

But more is more, too

Google has an overwhelming offering of products. Google Drive, Google Office, Gmail, Android, Google Voice, Google Hangouts, Google this, Google that. If you can be everything to everyone and do it well, do it.

Synergize

It's not just a buzzword. Google makes synergy a way of life. They know that one part of their business can increase revenues in another part of its business. There is a wall between their search division and their ads division (they're probably even be in separate buildings, I don't know.) Their search product doesn't make them a cent, but Google knows that making it better improves the revenue of their ads product.

Don't kill the golden goose

That separation between search and ads is key to Google's success, but it's actually remarkable:

They don't let ads run rampant. Many search result pages don't even show ads at all. Google knows that if they ruin the experience of their search product, everyone will stop using it.

Not everything has to be profitable

Sometimes it's a good idea to try new things, even if they aren't profitable. They give the Android operating system away for free.

Let me say that again: they give it away for free! It cost them millions of dollars in development.

But they've more than made up for it by benefiting in other ways from the dominance of the Android platform.

But cut your losses

Google knows when to give up. Remember Google Wave? Probably not. They dropped it. Google Plus? It's almost like it never existed.

Be mindful of when it's time to cut bait on a product of service.

Embrace your competition (if it helps your customers)

Have you ever noticed the prominent Twitter feeds that display on search results for a person?

Those snippets are included because it helps you, not because it helps Google's bottom line. Twitter helped to nudge Google Plus out of the social media market, yet they include it.

Smash your competition (if you can)

Make competing with you impossible. Be so good that there's no reason to ever use a competitor.

Everyone is different

Not everyone uses every Google product, but nearly everyone uses at least one or two. By recognizing the differences in consumer habits, Google has produced an array of products so broad that it's hard for anyone not to be a Google user of some sort.

And because everyone is different, that means everyone has a unique viewpoint to offer. And with Google's line of products, everyone can be a publisher. From video to blogging to custom website designs, Google helps everyone share their lives with the world.

Intent matters

What is someone looking for? But also, why are they looking for it? These questions are important.

The ability to answer these questions helps you better serve your customers or your audience.

Give your team freedom...

...and get cool stuff. Many of Google's products began as side projects in their engineers' free time.

People are creative, and they like to solve problems. Giving them freedom to stray (productively) from their main work now can result in huge dividends later.

Don't be evil

The famous Google motto.

It illustrates the importance of having values. For consumers, for employees, and for management, the motto inspires a certain level of trust and guides action. If you have values, have convictions, difficult decisions can become easier by limiting the options available to you.

Just Google it

In 2018, everyone can find what they're looking for. There's little hidden knowledge in ivory towers. That means nothing is beyond us. We can each learn to do anything. We each have the opportunity--and the need--to keep improving, to keep learning.

And Google has been a big reason that's become possible.

Thank you, Google, for everything you've done to make the world better, faster, and smarter.

Without you, we wouldn't get to have nearly as much fun (or do any SEO / search engine optimization in Beaumont, TX.)

Happy birthday!


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