Last week, Dmitry Gerasimenko, Founder and CEO of popular SEO agency toolset provider Ahrefs, announced on Twitter that his company is developing a “general purpose search engine to compete with Google.” The idea, in Gerasimenko’s own words, “sounds crazy.” But does it hint at things to come?

Today, pay-per-click advertising on Google is among the most effective and efficient forms of marketing available. Google’s robust and sophisticated set of advertising tools allows ad managers to tweak campaigns, target audiences, and ensure maximum ROI for clients.

But tech titans like Google and Facebook are facing unprecedented scrutiny due to their inability to protect user information. Companies that aimed to change the world for the better are now accused of harming it, which presents opportunities to upstart competitors. Ahrefs’ plan combines the privacy focus of DuckDuckGo with a democratic profit-sharing model that would see 90 per cent of advertising revenues go to publishers.

“Google is making $100B from its search service. Imagine they suddenly implement 90/10 profit share model sending $90B per year to publishers who create content,” Gerasimenko tweeted. “We are talking about hundreds of thousands of people who can making [a] living by organizing knowledge.”

Ahrefs’ plan is, frankly, unlikely to succeed. As Search Engine Land’s Barry Schwartz wrote on Wednesday, “we have seen search engine start up after search engine start up fail and go out of business.” But the company’s challenge to the Google-dominated status quo is a reminder to every SEO agency that the digital world is constantly changing. Google will almost certainly remain the world’s largest search engine and most effective online advertising platform in ten years’ time, but it won’t be for lack of effort from tech mavericks.

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