A decade ago when I worked for Penton Media, Google was a hot topic. To partner or not? Do we, as publishers, open up our web content to Google's spiders?

It seems a silly discussion today, but it was big business then. Publishers and editors were of the mind-set that Google was somehow stealing their content by indexing it and serving it up to Google's search engine.

As more publishers realized the number of relevant readers they were getting to their websites, Google turned from axis to ally.

So with publishers on board about the possibilities that Google could bring them (in both traffic and AdSense sales), it set the stage for Google's growth.

And Google grew.

In 2010, Google did almost $30 billion in revenue and $8.5 billion in profit. They have $34 billion in short-term investments and cash-on-hand.

And Google continues to be the place where people from all around the world find stuff. They are the problem solver. They link people to other people's content, spatter it with a bit of advertising and make a ton of money doing it.

Google Is Changing the Model

For all of its amazing innovations, such as Google Voice, Google Apps and even their Android platform, the large majority of Google's revenue still comes from AdSense. The product diversification has happened, but the revenue results are lagging. For those of you who understand the stock market, Google currently trades at a P/E Ratio of 14, a near historic low. This means that investors look at Google as more a value play and not a growth stock any longer.

So where does Google go from here?

Ah yes, to Content.

I need to find something. I go to Google. I do a few searches on Google. I click on a link. After that, for the moment, Google loses me as a revenue opportunity.

But what if?

I need to find something. I go to Google. I do a few searches on Google. I click on a link. That link is a piece of Google content (video, textual, audio, etc.). Google monetizes that content through more advertising and sponsorship.

Yes, this is the future. Heck, it's the present. The clear start of this was Google's purchase of restaurant-review media company Zagat a few months ago. No one made a peep. Everyone seemed happy.

And now, according to The Wall Street Journal, Google is putting up $100 million to create content for its YouTube franchise. Google is the publisher investing in content in order to monetize that content on the back end through sponsorship.

In a matter of just a few weeks (a $125 million investment in Zagat and a $100 million YouTube content investment), Google has become one of the largest publishers on the planet. And now there is no stopping them.

What Should You Expect from Google?

Regarding content, here are just a few possible events that shouldn't surprise you over the next few years:

  • Google will provide customized content for both brands and media companies.

  • Google will start purchasing the leading niche providers of content in multiple verticals.

  • Google will begin to hire journalists and content creators of all types to provide content for all Google platforms.

It makes too much sense. By doing this, Google can stay with the consumer throughout the purchase cycle.

What You Can Do!

I'm not saying that this is good or bad, I'm just making the point that this is happening … and that this will affect content creators (media-side and brand-side) in all industries and verticals. Google will be the largest content producer on the planet. We need to start preparing for this now.

Yes, even though Google is so important to most of our businesses, we need to find ways to diversify our traffic flow away from Google. We can do this by:

  • Harnessing a community of content creators and influencers with our web properties

    We've done this at the Content Marketing Institute and been able to reap a steady flow of more than 40% in referral traffic through more than 2,000 different websites over the past year.

  • Guest Blogging

    Spread your expertise by blogging on platforms where your customers are hanging out.

  • Commenting on Blogs

    Insightful comments are a great way to get the attention of both the blog author (influencer) and he or she's audience. Odds are, if the comments are consistently good, you'll get more traffic going to your site, building your subscription base.

Good luck!


Joe Pulizzi's new book, Managing Content Marketing: The Real-World Guide to Creating Passionate Subscribers to your Brand, is now available. Joe is founder of the Content Marketing Institute, which includes Chief Content Officer magazine and Content Marketing World, the largest content marketing event in the world, held Sept. 4-6, 2012. Contact Joe @juntajoe on Twitter.

Editor's Note: When I prepared for this special digital and Internet edition, I was ready to ask content marketing expert Joe Pulizzi to contribute an article. Joe is broad and strategic in his perspective, and I knew that his assessment of what we might expect down the road would be worthwhile. In this instance, he turned to Google, which was a perfect choice. Google needs no introduction about its influence to wholesalers and everyone else. Who doesn't use Google? Joe provides a glimpse of what we might expect from Google and with a little thoughtful pondering, how we might use it to our advantage.