It used to be. And I’d mock people by sending them to But now I ask friends on Facebook, which is now the ultimate search engine, powered by people. Contrast that with the ultimate people search engine, which Facebook once was a few years ago. Google was on the right track until recently in their attempt to personalize search results. But the core of their engine has always been based on links between websites– and websites are no longer the only thing around. Google can’t crawl the app ecosystem, known as the “dark web”, nor can they get past walled gardens that require sign-in. Notice that nearly all the sites you use, especially social networks, are HTTPS and require you to log-in to see anything? This is like a middle finger to Google. Consider that the most effective search results should be based on what you like and what your friends like. Now ask who has more data on you– Google or Facebook? The race, my comrade, to personalized search results (umm, I mean ads) is predicated on who has more data. And the other networks are not interested in sharing with Google– neither are guys like Amazon or Apple. They have their own search and app ecosystem. Heck, they both have their own ad networks. When I want to buy a product, I now go to Amazon and search there, instead of Google. If I’m in a Target store, I might pull out their app instead of searching Google– or check the price on Amazon to get a price match. The emperor is not dying. Wall Street has been moaning about how Google’s revenue growth has stagnated. That’s not a bad thing when you’ve got a near monopoly– but a monopoly in a shrinking industry. People are less likely to search nowadays, since they’re so occupied being fed– fed via a newsfeed. Remember the scenes in the movie Idiocracy where the citizens are obese, in those red mobility carts, slurping Big Gulps mounted to their carts? This is what the sheeple are doing with their always-on, wearable, implantable technology. Life is becoming a big video game— you can’t Control-Z out of it. The Google engineers have triple the IQ of the masses, so they are out of touch with the behavior of mere mortals. Hence, the failure of Google Glass, Google+, and other objects of nerd supremacy. How people find things. They’re not going to say “Ok, Google”, but probably aren’t going to ask Siri, either. They’re just going to ask Facebook or whatever happens to be open at the time. Eventually, the AdWords advertisers will realize that they’re giving too much attribution credit to brand terms. They’ll also see that the zero moment of truth (ZMOT) is actually not the search, but driven by something that spawned that initial search. And when advertisers start to pull those ad dollars, we witness a precarious game of Jenga. Tom Cruise can see future crimes. I predict that the smart companies are integrating marketing automation into their ad systems, starting with basic retargeting and tag management. If this is technical mumbo-jumbo, think of it like colleges recruiting kids in freshman and sophomore year, instead of waiting for seniors. You’ve got to cultivate and capture demand well before the final search for “cheap car insurance” ever occurs. You can think of smart AI like predicting thought crimes, so the police in Minority Report (but marketers, in this case), catch you early. If you’re a marketer or business owner, what do you think of this? Thrilled, scared, or indifferent perhaps? Garbage in, garbage out. If you’re not happy with the results of your people search engine (your social networks), consider the source. If you don’t like the taste of the vegetables in your garden, consider the seeds you’ve planted and how much care you’ve given it. The stuff you see in your social networks is from the very friends and brands that you’ve chosen to associate with. Even the ads are increasingly being tuned to your preferences. Marketers and entrepreneurs should see social networks less like a magic wand and more like a mirror. You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Your personal branding is the billboard atop your virtual storefront, letting people know who is welcome. There was once a traveler who left one village and entered the gates of another. Back in those days, cities had fortified walls, as the expanse between them was unsafe. The traveler asked the guard what sorts of folks would he find in this city– kind, mean, or otherwise? The guard answered, “Well, what sorts of people did you find in the city from hence you came?” Personal branding is how you drive like-minded people to your village. It’s not the latest marketing gimmick to drive sales, although it does do this impressively. It’s the foundation of your existence, the core reason why customers love you, and the fountain of marketing love that flows freely out of the hearts of your community members. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1M4v8qripo[/youtube] Robots are not allowed. Google doesn’t help you build this community. Some will argue that Google+ is not dead or that YouTube is a thriving social network. This search engine, just like other search engines, relies upon links between web pages, not on what humans are doing. In fact, the search engines can’t even see into the walled gardens– the city walls of apps, social networks, and places that robots are not allowed. The city gatekeepers are influencers like you. And your weapons are not chainmail, drawbridges, or buckets of scathing hot oil. Instead, you have marketing automation tools, social networks, and your loyal community. If you’re still relying upon trebuchets (catapults) like SEO for your marketing, it’s time to move forward a few centuries. Leave the embryonic warmth of the cave and venture into the harsh light of personal branding. Don’t hide behind your computer, tools, or an agency. You, yourself are the voice of your brand. Images: Author’s Own ______________________________________________________________________________ Tweak Your Biz is a thought leader global publication and online business community. Today, it is part of the Small Biz Trends stable of websites and receives over 300,000 unique views per month. Would you like to write for us? An outstanding title can increase tweets, Facebook Likes, and visitor traffic by 50% or more. Generate great titles for your articles and blog posts with the Tweak Your Biz Title Generator.