The future of SEO - Volume One

Written by Adam Stafford - 02 Feb 2009

We are forever trying to work out the next big thing that is going to either rock the boat or advance our offering in the world of SEO. When is the next big algorithm change going to be (is another Florida on the horizon)? What is the next big project being launched by Google? When will a page title and H1 tag become irrelevant?

I guess I have been thinking more about the future of SEO since writing the blog post on Page Rank - The Real Google Bomb?

So, what with the licence of Google's Page Rank being owned by Stanford Uni (that's exclusive use is due to expire in 2017)? What does Google have on the horizon for its next big algorithm advancement?

Well, i think part of this is already staring us in the face - just imagine the power contained in the data produced by Google Analytics. Just think of elements of this data being used as part of their algorithm; conversion, bounce, page views - all this data could influence the strongest algorithm in the world? No? Why should Google send traffic to a site with a poor conversion or a bad bounce rate when it can send it to a site that offers sticky content and obviously has something good to offer.

Further more, how is the web advancing. Remember the days of modems? The technology available 10 years ago has transformed dramatically. Do you think that if we had the same bandwidth opportunities 10 years ago as we do now that websites would look the same as they do today? Simple answer, no! Search engines were designed to work with text based websites because that was what was being developed. Now we can look at the opportunities that video has to offer.

Websites are stepping into a new generation. What could be the ultimate offering now that we have the technology to back it up? Video is going to be big... We need to look at utilising video and focusing on websites that are built for conversion and usability. Only those websites with up-to-date content should benefit from up-to-the minute newsworthy SERPs - why shouldn't anyone utilise a blog? Why should Google choose your website that hasn't been updated for 6 months when it could show another site that is active with new content that is being added to weekly or even daily.

Then things start to get really interesting. Search will become more personalised and won't just be about finding websites. We can now search for news and images - but what will we be searching for in the future. The idea is that everything will become searchable - look at photos; this medium can now be catalogued easily as meta data is automatically added to your digital photos - dates, type of camera, even the type of lense used. This then creates data that can be searched. What else could be searched that we don't have access to at the moment? What other  opportunities exist to put more data on the internet to allow it to be searched?

Imagine this - in 3 years time your credit card feeds back shaopping info to your Goolge account. Google launched a new service called ShoppingList ID in 2011. Each time you make a purchase Google records the data and puts it into your very own ShoppingList ID account. This shopping list can then begin to build up data about you; your shopping habits, your ability to buy expensive goods, your taste in particular brands. NOW look at the MASSIVE opportunities that this one application will create; next time you do a search for a generic phrase like 'holiday' Google knows to present you with the following info.

1. Google knows that you have expensive tastes through your buying pattern of choosing to buy luxury brands. So, Google is going to present you a website that is relevant to holidays - but it will personalise the search to ensure it sends you to a website that provides luxury holidays, perhaps' luxury all inclusive holidays to the caribbean'.

2. The search results will also look different. It will recommend associated products - let's look at one of Amazons biggest successes and use it in Goolges SERPs; the 'Look at what other people have brought' feature has been a huge succes for Amazon, recommending potential products of interest.  You are going to need to consider sunscreen - Google knows that you already shop regularly at Boots so it recommends that you look at sunscreen products from the Boots website.

3. You are looking to go on a luxury holiday to the Caribbean so lets ensure you get to see some relevant reviews to see as well. So it chooses to also show you some recent blog posts and videos from holiday review sites relevant to the Caribbean.

4. Google can also see that you don't have 'travel insurance' in your shopping archive - so, you get the picture...

ALL OF THIS WILL BE SPECIFICALLY PERSONALISED TO YOU! All of the above by just doing a generic search for the term 'holiday'.

The thing is, I believe the story of search has just begun. We are 3% there - the opportunities are endless. That's why i love this job and any other SEO must feel the same. Once you have learned all you can - there is something else new to consider! :) Keep an eye on this blog and i will be expanding on the points above in future volumes.

I would love to hear your comments on the Future of Search. Perhaps Page and Brin could give us a little advance warning. Please ;)

One thing I do know, we 'aint seen nothing yet. Google is in such a strong position. At the moment, my money is on them.