Can Google continue being both content provider and search engine?
Larry Page launched a web crawler in 1996 to collect data about the number of links pointing to web pages. This project, initially part of a PhD dissertation for the then Stanford student grew with the addition and support of Sergei Brin. When the two registered the google.com domain in 1997 they were reluctant to even include ads on the fledgling site.
Google has grown mightily in the intervening years, and as a modern corporation has bought up other web sites to continue its growth. It bought Blogger (Pyra Labs) in 2003 followed by the purchase of YouTube in 2006. As it has continued to grow, Google has moved from just supplying links to content, to supplying the content itself.
Does Google now promote its own content over that of rival content providers?
Let’s not overlook the prize here. The prize, as it is for all media, is the advertising dollar. Google already gets a cut coming and going with both Ad-Sense and Ad-Words, two of its products that put web site traffic and advertising dollars together. As Google promotes its own pages in its search results, it captures more of the advertising dollar.
There may be a point at which Google so pollutes its search results with its own content that search customers turn away.