There has recently been some buzz about what Google has in store next year. According to Bruce Clay, a well known search analyst, very soon you will see that “ranking is dead”. Ranking is the position a website holds on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) when you type in a search request in Google, or other search engines. Those web pages with higher rank typically get visited more – so ranking is pretty important to those who depend on web traffic for their business’ livelihood.
According to Mr. Clay and other industry insiders, search engines are going to personalize your search results. This could be based on your past search history, your geographic location and perhaps even clues to your initial intent. For instance, if you are a computer programmer and search for “java” you will get different search results than another person in the same room who is a coffee importer. This is the first of many changes we may see early in 2009.
Third party tracking cookies and Google’s ability to research IP addresses are all key factors in what is to come. From your IP address, Google can (and in test markets, already does) return relevant search results that are close to home. For example, say, you live in Dallas Texas, and you search for a Toyota for sale, you will likely see dealerships in and around the Dallas area coming up first on your search page. This has the potential to be very helpful to business and searchers alike.
Another big change coming down the pike will be in the way of Universal Search. The “robots” used to crawl the web are going to become more complex. The variables in this new complex algorithm will tell them how interesting your site is. In other words, do you have video on your site? The ones that do are going to soar in rankings and those who do not… well; the only way left is down.
Web Surfers: Some Benefits/Drawbacks of Personalized Search
For the internet surfer you should see a lot less spam and irrelevant search results. That is good news, no more having to rummage through page after page of useless search results to find the information you want.
The drawback may be that it will be harder to get information outside of your “historical” search. Like the above example, what will the computer programmer do if he really wants to search for java, as in coffee?
There are also the few people left who still do not have access to high-speed internet connections. If the main results are going to be video-intensive, that could pose serious problems for those with dial-up’s infamously slow load times.
Business Owners: Changes will require you to integrate media and fresh content into your web sites.
The good news for local businesses is they will no longer have to compete for search results on a global level. It will be nice for the small business owner who is selling handmade baskets in Montana because he or she will not have to compete with someone in India!
The downside is everyone will have to get on board with video optimization in addition to SEO. This could prove challenging but not impossible. Video marketing is already becoming more common place on the web. The best advice from professionals is to create great relevant content, integrate video and other “sticky” content, and the customers will come.
Overall, it appears that Google is trying to improve web surfing for everyone, the surfer, and the merchant. When it all comes together and spammers have a harder time high skewing our results, we all win.
About the Author:
Ken Ivey, aka “the Web Czar”, is a veteran technology addict, consultant, author, and President of MidTN Technology, a marketing and web design firm.