On the heels of the launch of its refreshingly honest “Explore Shakespeare with Google” micro-site, Google’s relaunch of its U.S. Government focused search efforts into a branded portal begs the question, “What is Google up to this time?”
According to Danny Sullivan, SearchEngineWatch, the “new” “Google U.S. Government Search” is actually a repackaging of a product several years old:
Google launched its search engine for US government information, informally known as Google Uncle Sam, many years ago. It's been running since at least 1999. But now the service has received an update giving it a personalized home page and formal branding as Google US Government Search.
Google’s press release touts its new, branded destination as “a new search product that will make it easier to find U.S. government information and keep up to date on government news.”
Half of the press release, however, also touts “Google's ability to serve federal government customers”:
Google U.S. Government Search is the newest Google search product for government agencies. Google's enterprise group already counts hundreds of government agencies as customers for Google enterprise search and geospatial products.
To expand Google's ability to serve federal government customers, Google also recently added Mike Bradshaw, as head of federal sales. Bradshaw, who has more than 20 years experience selling technology to federal agencies, will be located in Google's office in Herndon, Va., where he will focus on helping federal agencies benefit from Google enterprise products, such as the Google Search Appliance, Google Mini, Google Earth Enterprise and Google Maps for Enterprise.
Please go to http://www.google.com/enterprise/government/ for more information about Google's government search products or federal sales programs.
In addition to supporting its federal sales efforts, "Google U.S. Government Search" may be used by Google in its Washington D.C. lobbying efforts, according to Danny Sullivan:
The relaunch comes on the heels of Google political moves last week. Google tried a last-minute lobbying attempt for net neutrality by cofounder Sergey Brin and an effort to rally Google users to lobby for net neutrality plus harvest their names for future political pushes.
It's hard not to see the updated US government search service as a way to attract government workers and insiders to a place where Google can influence them. Google ultimately controls the personalized home page and can choose to insert material on it any time it wants. That's a powerful tool if many people involved with the government start tuning into the page.
Certainly giving the Washington Post an exclusive on breaking the news helps fuel the idea that Google's doing a push along these lines. The Post is the only media outlet to have been prebriefed on the release, that I can tell. That helps ensure the story gets good play, plus causes competing print media outlets to give the story a second day of coverage doing catch-up stories. Of course, the Post also gets prime space on the new site, as well. That probably won't please some competing political news publications.