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Google outage highlights its market dominance

Graeme Parton

For a few short minutes on the evening of Friday August 16, the world’s internet users got a little preview of what life would be like if Google didn’t exist – and it’s safe to say that many were horrified.

According to GoSquared, a web analytics company, international web traffic dropped by a staggering 40 per cent during the blackout, as users were denied access to all of Google’s online features.

On the night, the tech giant was forced to admit that everything from Google Search and YouTube to Google Drive and Gmail was unavailable, with some users having to wait five minutes before they could continue what they had been doing beforehand.

During the incident, the company posted a message published on users’ dashboards saying:

“We’re aware of a problem with Gmail affecting a significant subset of users. The affected users are able to access Gmail, but are seeing error messages and/or other unexpected behaviour.”

Google has so far refused to explain the issue, which is thought to have cost it as much as £330,000. While the failure may look bad on the firm, however, it certainly highlights the extent of the grip it has on the web.

Simon Tabor, a developer from GoSquared, said of the outage:

“As internet users, our reliance on being up is huge.

“It’s also of note that pageviews spiked shortly afterwards, as users managed to get to their destination.”

When devising SEO strategies, marketers would be wise to bear in mind the wide range of search engines available to users, with Yahoo and Bing also popular. It is, however, impossible to ignore Google’s dominance, and firms will certainly want to keep on top of the latest guidelines and advice snippets released by the Californian company’s head of webspam, Matt Cutts.

Graeme has experience creating content for online sources and for the radio, and at university he studied Multimedia Journalism.

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