The fourth time wasn't the charm for Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). The company failed to top Wall Street's profit targets for the first time as a public company. Earnings nearly quadrupled to $1.19 a share, but that was well within the ballpark of analyst projections. After spoiling investors with three quarters of market-thumping results, this quarter proved bland and predictable.

It doesn't matter that just three months ago, these same number-crunchers figured that Google would be good for just $0.93 a share. Back then, Google's shares were nervously cracking the $200 mark. A lot of air was starting to inflate expectations -- and the share price.

Google shareholders expected miracles because that was all that the company had shown them until last night. Because Google always kept mum on its forward guidance, it provided analysts with blank easels, then proceeded to draw circles around its profit targets with every passing quarter.

That's not to say that this quarter wasn't still a pretty artful showing. There was no slowing in the company's online advertising stronghold as revenues rose by 98% to hit $1.4 billion. Free cash flow grew sevenfold, clocking in at $467 million for the quarter.

It was clearly better than online advertising's other bellwether, Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO). Earlier this week, Yahoo! reported rather unimpressive results and grew its top line only half as well as Google.

Yahoo!'s soft quarter should have braced Google shareholders for something mortal, but the stock was still bid up to a record high yesterday. As the two lone standouts in contextual advertising now that smaller players like LookSmart (NASDAQ:LOOK) and Mamma (NASDAQ:MAMA) have faltered, Google and Yahoo! bear the burden of carrying the paid-search model toward greater visibility.

It makes too much sense to fail, since companies can draw targeted leads for just pennies apiece thanks to the efforts of companies like Google.

Read up on the Google revolution:

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz digs Google but he does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy .