Google is like Xerox - a brand so recognizable it's become a verb. So when it dips its toes into the lead generation and rate aggregation waters occupied by firms such as LendingTree, the splash is likely to be major.

"[Google] controls so much of Web advertising, they can place themselves in almost any Web business," says Rob Enderle, an analyst for the Enderle Group. "And Google already has advertising relationships with lenders. LendingTree has good reason to be concerned."

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