What I would do…
First of all I would look at what I’ve got; I would see that I have a big machine that most of the modern world are using to find the things they want to buy and I would quickly realise that I can charge businesses to appear prominently in the results that my amazing machine is generating.
There is of course a slight moral problem here, in that I have built my reputation on the claim that I provide the most accurate results possible for my users. But I would probably brush over that and add a big lever on the outside of my machine. The more I pull it, the more money I make. The investors will especially love it; quarterly revenue targets will be a doddle.
The temptation will be to turn it up really high, and that would certainly please the investors even more. But I suspect the clever executives at Google would tell me that the speed at which our dominance would decline would be directly proportional to the costs we impose on our advertisers and inversely proportional quality of the results we provide.
Competing short and long-term pressures would be a source of angst but I would get over that by employing a dedicated team to write another algorithm that constantly calculates (in real-time) the optimum position for the lever in order to maximise overall return. I would connect my algorithms then get the team to work on the next return enhancing formula.
I understand that there are a lot of things called ‘SEO agencies’ that have been making money from helping some of their clients get to the top of my results by interpreting and exploiting our own algorithm. I would decide to try to clamp down on these guys by changing our algorithm so that it becomes harder for people who aren’t paying us money to be shown near the top. I’m sure it will work because we will be able to claim that we are only defending the rights of all our users. If we get it right the agencies to capitulate, convert and bring us even more gifts of even more money from more of their own clients. After all, if there is money to be made by exploiting ‘our’ algorithm its only fair that as much of it as possible is made by us.
I suspect the more progressive people in my business will be telling me by now that we must be quickly investing our potentially enormous profits to diversify into the multitude of potential platforms of the future. This will probably sound sensible as I will certainly want to be able to quickly migrate and adapt our machine to continue our dominance.
A minor irritation will be all those annoying countries that will be trying to charge us more tax, just because our machine is making more money from ‘their’ citizens. A bit cheeky of them I will think, after all, the transactions are happening in cyberspace and who says citizens should be treated like commodities of a modern governments anyway!
Still, as always there will be an optimum trade-off that can be calculated by one of our handy algorithms and we’ll do some of that diversification by investing some of those profits by employing a few of ‘their’ people to work for us…
That way they’ll be sure to give us a tax rate of next to nothing :)
FYI: I’m an admirer of Google and all it’s done and if I was Google I would have done the same ;)