Will 2010 Be Search Engine Mayhem?

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OK, “mayhem” might be a bit strong. After all, I get a little bit of excitement growing deep inside when I think about what might be coming up for search (and the search engine results page) in 2010. Serious excitement, and I’m no fan of mayhem. I don’t think I’ve seen as many interesting and thought-provoking arguments put forth about the future of search over the last couple of months in any other semi-extended length of time since large numbers of people first dialed-up on creaky old modems way back in the dark ages.

We’re all agog about real-time search and the power of tweeting about events as they happen — and in the same breath we are concerned about our privacy. I don’t know how we’ll reconcile it all, but I do know that figuring that out is going to bring significant change to the way we approach the tasks of SEO and SEM.

Already we see signs of the SERP, as we knew it, disappearing forever.  News results grouped together in a box near the top of that same first page. Image results complete with thumbnails taking up a chunk of real estate on page one. Shopping results. The local 10 or 5 or 3 or whatever box sitting there in all its glory with a map to your local locksmiths (or someone’s locksmiths). The weather in the search box? And now Google has tweets showing in a scrolling box that you can even pause, right on the first page of the organic results.

What’s a poor search engine optimizer to do? How on earth are you going to make it to page one, never mind the top of the search results? I suppose you could pay someone to sit 24-7 and tweet 24-7 about your site and product and hope you make it to the scroll box area more times than not during the day, but does anyone really want to see those things whip by? What about relevance? How do you judge relevance when providing real-time search? Or quality?  Will the SERP as we know it even matter?

Earlier this month, Danny Sullivan had an excellent (as always) post on Search & Real Time Madness where he went through the crazy antics on one-upmanship that seem to be plaguing not just the search engines, but social media sites and other assorted properties. Some, including Rand Fishkin (in his 8 Predictions for SEO in 2010 post), feel it may fade away as the year progresses.

But I also wonder if this isn’t the time for someone to come out of the woodwork with something so totally different, so unlike all the wannabe-Googles and one-up-wonders, that it will change the game totally? After all, Google was not built in a day, and neither will a serious challenger be. Anything’s possible … especially at the start of a new year. The way we view search is changing, what we want from search results is changing, but the key end goal is the same as it always has been.

We’ll be changing it up some here at Search Marketing Standard in 2010. Lots of plans and ideas floating around and all happening in real time, but we won’t serve it up until it’s relevant and chockful of quality (which after all, is what we want in our internet too).  Happy New Year to you all!

About the Author

Frances Krug has worked in market research since graduating from UCLA with an MA and CPhil in Latin American history. As an editor and online content provider for the last 7 years, she currently is Associate Editor at iNET Interactive, where she also directs Search Marketing Standard's email marketing program.

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4 Comments

  1. This is a great article. I like your point about the News results, it is definately come apparent that Google is definately shifting in that direction. It should help weed out the spammers who build dozens of sites and let them sit and do nothing, so hopefully they will be pushed down the list, however it will be more difficult for small businesses with websites to update their own blogs more regularly and get their information out in more places.

  2. In some ways, I think 'real-time search' was only incorporated so that Google remains the "one-stop shop" for search. I may glance at the tweets in a SERP, but I'm much more likely to scroll down if I'm actually conducting research. Just like how paid search results are sometimes taken with a grain of salt, so too I think are real-time resuls: their benefit is timeliness, with the obvious trade-off of content vetting. .-= Andrea Hill´s last blog ..Use Gmail on a Mac? Get Notify. Now. =-.

  3. Denise

    While I admit that "what we want from search results is changing," I wonder if the reality is more that Google wants us to want something different from search. It's in Google's interest to increase the paid links, and the real-time search experiments help their ever-expanding brand. But I still want a SERP that gives me relevant results on research topics, showing me the source and a hint of what's to come if I click. I'm not sure that's where Google will ever be headed again, so it's time for a game-changer.