Google’s Marketing Challenge

Here in an interesting story about Google's simple homepage, and how it prevents them from drawing attention to their new offerings.

Change has been one of the only constants at Google (GOOG ). In five years, its payroll has rocketed from about 100 to over 4,200 staffers. Sales have jumped from $19 million to more than $3 billion. And its product offerings have mushroomed from simple Internet search to include dozens more, from e-mail to maps to instant messaging.

Despite this roiling change, Google's famously minimalist home page looks almost as it did when the upstart search company owned just 1% of the market. Consider this: Five years ago, Google's home page contained 50 words, 11 links, and zero ads. Today, it contains 49 words, 17 links, and zero ads.

NO-FRILLS. By contrast, the current home pages of key competitors Yahoo! (YHOO ) and Microsoft's (MSFT ) MSN show a flurry of activity, with animated ads and roughly 140 links apiece.

Google's no-frills, fast-loading site has been key to its growing popularity among Internet searchers, particularly as rivals vastly improve their own search technologies.

But it also poses a dilemma for Google: How can it draw attention to its many new products without cluttering the site and turning off its core constituency of searchers?

Do people use Google because of the simplicity of the homepage, or because they perceive it as the best search engine? How can Google launch and market new products without alienating users? A huge number of people use the Google homepage each day. That's a valuable asset they could use to get the word out, but will a cluttered homepage make it harder to differentiate them from Yahoo?