Book Review

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Book reviewTitle: What Would Google Do?
Author: Jeff Jarvis
Pages: 272
ISBN 978-0-06-170971-5
Publisher: Collins Business

Reviewed by Soroya Brantley

 

There’s no denying that the increasing popularity of the Internet has changed the way businesses are run. However, no business has truly found its footing in the Internet age like Google. That is the premise behind Jeff Jarvis’ book, What Would Google Do? What has Google done? Why has that company been able to navigate the complexities of the Internet age so efficiently?

Google operates by the new rules of the new age, an important key to its success, Jarvis contends. Under these new rules, the customers are now in charge. Customers are now able to access and spread information in ways that were not possible before the Internet age. Want to know whether a product is being sold at a fair price or is of decent quality? Google it and you are guaranteed to find links to stores giving price quotes, as well as reviews from other consumers. And therein lies another powerful success tool of the Internet age – links. Jarvis uses his own experiences with blogging to illustrate the value of linking. Internet users who read his blog entries added links to their own blogs directing their readers to his. Jarvis returned the favor. Anyone who Googles and opens a blog can bounce from that blog to others by clicking on the links, thus creating a network. That, Jarvis argues, is a mighty powerful tool that can be utilized by businesses.

Of course, there can be no linking without something to link to, hence, the need for   businesses to establish a Web site. “Everybody needs Googlejuice,” Jarvis says. If your company Web site does not pop up in a Google search, you are missing valuable exposure to new customers. You also run the risk of losing customers as Internet traffic continues to increase and foot traffic to physical stores decreases. “If you are not searchable, you won’t be found,” Jarvis says.

What if Google ruled the world? Jarvis asks in a chapter devoted to that question. Here, he looks at various industries and theorizes what could happen if Google ran them, or they utilized Google’s principles. What would happen if Google ruled retail or advertising? These ideas don’t seem farfetched since most of us already use Google to find stores. How about money management, utilities, or even public welfare? Jarvis describes scenarios that encompass all of these industries and more.

To succeed in this age, businesses must operate outside the box. No longer will an advertisement in the newspaper suffice. Companies must acknowledge that customers can find multiple choices simply by typing a few words into a Google search. Businesses need to position themselves so that the new, savvy breed of customers will choose them. Be more transparent and listen to the customers. Remember that feedback is no longer written on a piece of paper that the rest of the public doesn’t see. Now a disgruntled customer may create an entire Web site around how bad a product is.

So What Would Google Do? Jarvis lists new imperatives that businesses should follow for their best chance of survival. Among them: Encourage, enable and protect innovation, and “simplify, simplify.” Most businesses would argue that they already do these things. However, this book emphasizes that these principles must now be followed with the Internet in mind. Better yet, use Google as a template for how to thrive in the Internet era.