What Would Google Do? – Jeff Jarvis [Book Summary]

by Nick

“What Would Google Do?” explains simple principles of how the internet can help your business grow.

The Development of the Internet Has Made It Necessary to Serve Customers Well and Quickly.

The grossest mistake of the owners is to ignore their customers. In 2005, after buying a Dell laptop, a customer frustrated by poor service arranged a blog post for the company. Other dissatisfied customers quickly joined him and a blog post began to be issued by Google at the request of Dell.

Angry shoppers can do significant damage to the brand. Dell executives believed that their customers should only post comments on the company’s website and on their terms, but customers were already communicating with each other in other places. Later, the author turned to Dell with an open newsletter informing them that the loss of one client today can have a “domino effect” since this client is likely to tell friends about negative experiences with the company. And in the modern, internet-connected world, one client can have many friends.

This means that companies have nowhere else to hide: every mistake they make is instantly announced through the Internet. Made the customer wait too long? Wait for the appearance of public, angry tirades.

How to avoid this?

Jeff Jarvis recommends to be sure to provide excellent and fast service to your customers – this can prevent and eliminate potential damage. Talk with a dissatisfied customer and try to understand and correct your mistakes. If you solve the problem, he can tell everyone about the good service.

Read blogs where your customers discuss your products. So you will always be aware of what your customers think about the product without spending money on consumer market research.

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To Succeed in Today’s World, Companies Must Communicate and Acknowledge Their Mistakes.

Companies used to be very secretive about their products and their mistakes. Today, neither the company nor anyone else in the public spotlight can afford to lie.

Example. In 2004, journalist Dan Razer presented documents criticizing President George W. Bush’s military service. Bloggers suspected these documents were false, and one of them proved it. Rather than immediately admitting his mistake, Razer chose to ignore the flow of commentary that appeared over the eleven days and then left his politically motivated critics unsatisfied. This has aggravated the situation, as the current post-media generation has been brought up on honesty and directness and expects others to tell the truth.

If you manage a company, openly admit your mistakes – this will increase your credibility.

Example. Bloggers told Reuters that in 2006, one of their photographers forged a photo of Beirut during the Israeli bombing. In response, Reuters deleted the photo, fired the photographer and thanked the bloggers. This is the right approach to dealing with bugs.

You need to make sure that you only do things that you can publicly acknowledge. Google’s motto is “Don’t be evil.” This means that they provide unbiased search results and clearly indicate when they advertise. No matter what benefits you get from an “evil” error, the cost of fixing it will exceed the profit you make.

Remember – everything you say and do can be easily found on Google. In fact, you can think of Google as an angel sitting on your shoulder and reminding you how important it is to stay honest.

Make Your Website Informative and Searchable via Google

The vital necessity for any website is traffic, and the most important channel for the flow of visitors is Google. People ask Google questions and use it to find the way to the right websites.

How to generate traffic for your website?

Your site should be very informative, so it will attract people who have questions. You should try to answer every urgent question that you can imagine.

For example, people often look for:

  • product description and supporting information on manufacturers’ websites;
  • views and voting results on politicians websites;
  • food information on food company websites.

To find out as much as possible about the answers your website should provide, look at the history of the requests that bring people to you. They will show you what people are looking for.

Example. About.com, a content service with over a million useful, specialized, and ageless articles on a wide range of topics: from car repair to thyroid disease. About.com includes 700 freelance writer websites that are trained in composing headings, preambles, and keywords so that Google can easily find them. Writers also keep track of what search queries visitors use, so they can answer new questions in advance.

Make your site convenient for Google by increasing PageRank. It directs traffic, increases the number of clicks, links, and references, thereby promoting your PageRank higher and higher.

The presentation of information on your site should be simple and clear for both customers and Google counters. Forget about animations and sounds – they annoy most people, and Google doesn’t recognize most of them anyway.

Links Between Web Pages Have Changed the Structure of the Media

The Internet has made dramatic changes in the media space. The fact that the pages of various websites can be linked together has changed the functions of the media. Now they are more disposed towards cooperation, and information flows are moving in two directions.

Example. Impressions of Jeff Jarvis from the events of September 11: he was not far from the World Trade Center when the first plane crashed into the building and could talk with the survivors. He used his notes for the blog. Bloggers in Los Angeles read his work, wrote about it on their own blogs, and put a link to his page. He, in turn, answered them the same.

This is a new media structure: everyone can express their opinion, and the rest can listen to it and join the discussion. These types of distributed conversations that take place in different places at different times have become possible due to the “linking” of pages and information on the Internet.

The ability to link content on the Internet encourages specialization.

Example. In the era of print media, journalists had to include additional paragraphs in their articles in order to remind the reader of what happened before, but today they simply can link to previous articles. In addition, they no longer need specialized journalists on topics such as golf, as they can simply provide links to other sites for better and cheaper coverage of the material. These factors allow newspapers to focus on their specialization.

Such specialization leads to closer cooperation and improves quality – people can focus on what they do well, and let others “fill in the gaps” with what they are good at.

Focus on what you do best and provide links to everything else.

Example. For customers looking for product information, retailers should provide a link to the manufacturer, and manufacturers should provide links to forums and blogs where other customers are already discussing their products.

Building a Network or Joining It is a Good Business in the Age of the Internet

The rapid development of the Internet has allowed people and companies to collaborate and form networks. Experienced companies and individuals can take advantage of this. Creating such a network can be very profitable because each of its participants will make its own contribution to the network and increase its value. Joining such a network is also beneficial since each participant can benefit from such cooperation. The larger the network, the more valuable it is.

Example. The Glam network includes 600 independent websites dedicated to women’s fashion, health, celebrities, etc. Sites that join Glam gain authority – the network is very picky in choosing its members. This leads to increased traffic, as Web sites on the Glam network redirect users to other network resources, thereby multiplying the effect. Glam makes a profit by selling ads on these sites at inflated prices, as advertisers know that their ads will appear in a first-class environment.

Another successful way to build a business on the Internet is to organize a platform. A successful platform allows users to create their own products, enterprises, communities, and networks.

Example. Maps Google Maps. After launch, the service has become very convenient for users. Google allowed other sites to embed Google Maps on their pages and even create applications based on them. For example, one programmer developed a new application that combined Craigslist and Google Maps ads. Google did not sue him for using and modifying his product in an unauthorized manner but hired him.

Enterprises that freely use this platform began to invest a lot of money in it, which created difficulties for Microsoft or Yahoo. Google Maps has become the standard for mapping services and getting information about surrounding objects.

The Era of Large Companies is Over; It’s Time for Small Specialized Companies

It used to be that the pinnacle of success for any company was to sell its product on the mass market: to everyone, everywhere. These days, mass-market sales are no longer the goal. The abundance of various customer-oriented products on the Internet allows everyone to find what they want, instead of being content with a standard. There is no longer a mass market, but only an infinite number of small niche markets.

Focus your resources on serving your niche. Small enterprises usurp the leading positions of large companies. Large companies are still alive and well, media companies form huge conglomerates, and even Google itself is a behemoth among other companies. But small firms grow and develop.

Example. In 2007, small stores sold $ 60 billion worth of goods through eBay. Although it’s a penny compared to WalMart’s $ 345 billion turnovers, it outperformed Federated, America’s largest department store chain, with only $ 26 billion in revenue.

The emergence of blogs. By 2006, 57 million readers had reached blogs. Two years later, only 50 million people bought daily newspapers.

The reason for the growth of the small business is that today it is easier for him to succeed than large before. To do business, you no longer need a store, warehouse, staff, and advertising, you can find buyers on eBay, Amazon and Google. Without such costs, companies begin to quickly make a profit.

Successful Companies Focus on Trading Knowledge That Benefits Their Customers.

As companies learn more and more about their customers, the most experienced of them, such as Amazon and Google, intelligently use this data and try to minimize the complex and costly preparation of physical products and materials.

Example. Amazon does not sell goods – in fact, they sell knowledge. Amazon is consciously committed to working with as few physical products as possible. They do not have stores or sellers, they reduce their stocks to a minimum, receiving goods as orders are received from customers. They do not have their own delivery service, they prefer to use outsourcing, which receives good discounts due to the volume. All this creates the savings that they pass on to customers in order to stimulate even greater sales. With an extensive database, Amazon can predict what the customer will need in the future. In addition, they use millions of customer reviews to further refine their offerings.

Although Google provides a wide range of services, it also sells knowledge. It provides not only a search engine, but also e-mail, document management, map services, etc., but this is not the main source of income. The profit comes from targeted advertising, which is effective because Google knows more about us than any other organization. He achieved this by offering many services and collecting data from users of these services.

Each company should think carefully about what true value it provides to its customers. Most likely, these are not physical goods, but your knowledge about customers, their service and needs.

Many Successful Companies and Networks Provide Their Core Services for Free.

Nowadays this is a common occurrence. It is quite realistic to provide an actual product or service for free and make money through advertising.

Example. New York Times. In 2005, the newspaper established paid access to its website and archives for $ 50 per year. The result was depressing. In 2007, payment was canceled, and more visitors immediately began to flock to the site, increasing the number of links and clicks and improving the ranking of the site on Google. The newspaper was able to earn more money from advertising for such an extended audience.

Free and low-cost services are also widespread, as they are vital to network success. The fastest-growing network companies (Skype, eBay, Facebook, Amazon, Google) charge as little as possible. No one can compete with a free service.

Example. Craigslist only charges for posting job ads; everything else is free. This allowed Craigslist to become a favorite trading platform for most ads, and no competitor can bring down its price since this service is already free.


The development of the Internet has fundamentally changed the way we do business. Companies must adopt the new principle of openness and begin to use it in their interests, working with their customers and with each other. Small, flexible companies grow and evolve to serve a new, highly fragmented niche market.

Consider offering your company a product or service for free. What happens if you give away your main product for free? What will this mean for your customers?

How can you make money?

Use the collective mind. In today’s world, people on the Internet openly discuss their needs, desires, and impressions about products and services. This is a valuable source of information that every company should join. Start reading about what people related to your business say. Ask them about your product or let them test it. This is much better than engaging focus groups because people who are already discussing your products clearly have something to say.

Why You Should Read “What Would Google Do?”

  • To grow your business by leveraging the power of the internet
  • To drive untapped customers
  • To increase brand recognition

This book is available as:

AudiobookeBook | Print