SEOs Should Focus On Where Google Is Heading

Nov 17th
posted in

Interesting little snippet from Mr Cutts:

"Matt recommends SEOs do not “chase the algorithm” and instead try to predict where Google will be going in the future". Matt was addressing PubCon.

Good advice, methinks.

Trying to predict where Google is going is something we do a lot of at SEOBook.com. Whilst no one has a crystal ball, it's good practice to keep one eye on the search horizon.

So, where do we think Google might be heading?

Google Will Continue To Dominate Search

Easy one, huh.

Their biggest competitors appear clueless when it comes to search. Bing may make some inroads. Maybe. It's hard to imagine anyone eating Google's lunch when it comes to search, for many years to come.

Is Facebook a threat? I doubt it. Search is difficult, and I can see no reason why Facebook - which has a media focus - could own the search channel any more than Yahoo could.

Search is, after all, an infrastructure problem. Google's infrastructure would be very difficult to replicate.

Google Won't Be Doing All That Much About Blackhat Sites

A search result set only really contains spam if the Google users think it contains spam i.e. they don't see the answer they were expecting.

The fact a website may fall outside Google's guidelines might get competing webmasters' knickers in a knot, but it probably doesn't matter that much to Google, or anyone else.

Even though Matt Cutts says Google will devote more resources to this, I suspect Google's efforts will largely remain focused on outright deception i.e. misrepresentation, hijacking and malware.

The Web Reflects Power Structures

We can forget the San Fran techno-hippy ethos of the web. It will not be a free-for-all democracy, if it ever was. History shows us that power tries to centralize control in order to maintain it.

Google may try to keep users on Google for longer. They do this by owning more and more verticals, and extracting data and reformatting it. When they send visitors away from Google, they'll try to do so more and more on their own terms. Watch very carefully what type of sites Google rewards, as opposed to what they may say they reward.

Expect less competition in the market as a result. Some people are already getting angry about it.

Be Where Your Users Are

Google follows users. So does Facebook. Anywhere your users are, you've got to be there, too. On Google Maps. On YouTube. Wherever and whenever. Think beyond your website. Think in terms of getting your data out there.

As Rich Skrenta pointed out in a recent interview:

Social media can drive tons of attention, awareness and traffic. But the search box is the best way to navigate to stuff you want. Now what will drive those results - if I type in "pizza", what should I get? The answer can be very different depending on whether the results are coming from the web, Yelp, or Facebook. So I guess my answer is that I still see search being the core way to navigate, but I think what gets searched is going to get a lot more structured and move away from simple keyword matches against unstructured web pages

A Shift To Localization

Microsoft Research found that people tend to organize their memories in geographic terms i.e. where they were when something happened.

If you want to know where Google is heading, then watch Marissa Mayer. Marissa has been responsible for much of what you see in Google in terms of how it is organized. Marissa has just moved to head of Geographic and Location Services.

Google Earth. Google Maps. Google Local. Google Street View. Mobile location data and targeting. Expect more data to be organized around locality.

Everything Changes, But Not That Fast

Aaron talked about TechCrunch's tendancy to over-hype new developments:

"...but this changes everything..."

SEO hasn't changed all that much in years. We still find an audience (keyword research), we publish content, we build links to the content, and then we repeat it all over again.

The changes come around the edges, especially for big companies like Google. There is a lot of risk to Google in making radical changes. Shareholders don't like it. Why risk breaking something that makes so much money, and is so popular?

The biggest changes in the way we do things on the web are probably going to come from the upstarts. They're probably hard at work in their garage right now.

Published: November 17, 2010

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Comments

November 17, 2010 - 3:21pm

I haven't commented much on this blog, but I wanted to take a moment and let you know that I greatly value your opinion PeterD and have read all your articles. Best wishes.

November 17, 2010 - 3:46pm

"Their biggest competitors appear clueless when it comes to search. Bing may make some inroads. Maybe. It's hard to imagine anyone eating Google's lunch when it comes to search, for many years to come.

Is Facebook a threat? I doubt it. Search is difficult, and I can see no reason why Facebook - which has a media focus - could own the search channel any more than Yahoo could."

Here's a crazy thought:

What if facebook blocks google bot from searching content on facebook?

It seems that facebook has become some kind of mini-web already. many companies seem to have started a second web presence on facebook despite already having their own/real website...people who have content but didnt have a website might add it to their facebook-page (I mean everyone has one, right now)...if the content that can be found on facebook continues to grow, facebook will need some decent search engine, as well.

and then "facebook-search" might be a similarly important search engine as is Google, when it comes to finding content on the www ... if they simply blocked google from accessing their facebook-content.

I'm not saying this is gonna happen 100%, or even 50% ;) (like I said just a wild thought), but what do you think about this? Wont facebook need a decent search engine algorithm for their content, as well?

PS: I feel the same way as jpandian about your posts! ;-)

November 18, 2010 - 9:31pm

Patrick,

I'm with you on this one. If anyone said 5 years ago that Facebook would beat Google in traffic on a given day, then we'd all laugh. Facebook is making better ads than Google, and is figuring out how to do everything better than other sites. I'd say it'll take a while but Facebook has a lot more up it's sleeve.

November 24, 2010 - 6:26am

Hey Patrick,

Regarding "What if facebook blocks google bot from searching content on facebook?"

It already does - anything you need to log in to see (the majority of content on Facebook) is not crawled/indexed by Google.

You make some great points and Facebook can/will definitely influence buyer behavior, but not at the expense of search (particularly google search).

Cheers,
Rob

November 18, 2010 - 10:05am

I am an seoer. You post helps me a lot. Thanks.

November 18, 2010 - 2:20pm

But it is easier to watch trends and predict outcomes.
1) Many people are frustrated with Google. EU officials, privacy groups, SEO's and small business people.
2) Many are openly discussing alternatives to Google.
3) Search marketing has become expensive and a moving target.
Out of this many will look for ways to market outside/instead of Google. Many will diversify their marketing methods.
Some may develop very good systems. Only time will tell. Navier proves Google is not unbeatable.
4) We are in a period of dramatic economic change. History shows that during and after such periods, marketing / customer behavior can change radically.
5) Google's systems and software are becoming far more complex. This could become a liability.
6) Google has grown in to a large multinational corporation. These are typically not very nimble.
Because of all of these, I am not optimistic Google will hold their extremely large market share throughout the world.

November 18, 2010 - 9:00pm

"Google Earth. Google Maps. Google Local. Google Street View. Mobile location data and targeting. Expect more data to be organized around locality.
Everything Changes, But Not That Fast

The biggest changes in the way we do things on the web are probably going to come from the upstarts. They're probably hard at work in their garage right now."

"Expect more data to be organized around locality."

I agree. Locality is a big up and comer. G Maps and mobile apps bare that out.

And another word phrase for Locality is Subject Specific. Access to subject specific information is an up and comer.

One of the main problems with search engines has always been the MASS of stuff you have to weed through to get to your answer.

Search engines need to tighten up their processes for returning results. And that is going to have to happen in the beginning of the search not after.

AS fa as I see it, the attention that is being given to locality is naturally going to evolve into subject, product, service, information specific searching right inside the search engine it's self.

What I mean to say is this. I think your going to see Google and all of the other majors turn to braking their engines up into many smaller engines to promote subject specific searching.

Eventually when you enter the engine to do a search you will chose the subject your after. Of course you will have to make your choice from the list they offer.

For example if you are looking for Chevy car parts you'll type that into the search box and you will land on a page that is devoted to Chevy cars. Not Chevy chase (which isn't even how you spell his name) or the movie Chevy love or the local chevy car part junk yard that offers everything under the sun in regards to junk. No You'll land on a page that is Chevy car specific.

And from their you will given given the choice to go deeper or as I like to call it tighten your search. You can ask for a 2001 Impala door parts. You don't have to ask for Chevy door parts because you're already in the Chevy sub-search engine category.

Now you land on a page where you can search for the specific part you want. And NOW! you can be sure that nothing from here on is going to be anything but Chevy car door absolutely, positively, without a doubt specific.

I've come a long way from the word locality but I did say evolve.

So enough said by me about one of the directions we can predict Google go.

JohnRobbins

November 19, 2010 - 4:31am

Cheers - good discussion.

November 20, 2010 - 9:18am

I really doubt if google has a major competitor. Obviously facebook is not a major competitor as well. Facebook caters people but doesn't mean the entire web so they are of different and far different. Even though Facebook has some issues with Google I really doubt that they can penetrate at least half of the total Google enthusiast that's a big no no on my point.

November 20, 2010 - 12:25pm

Facebook doesn't compete on search, but they do compete on advertising. With them generating something like 25% of US pageviews it really does give them a chance to test a variety of ad integration approaches...especially while they are not yet public.

November 25, 2010 - 8:38pm

Aaron, check this out. It's so cool. Basically it shows hard coding into the google algorithm.

benedelman dot org/hardcoding/

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