Last five or six years have witnessed the Internet based tools and technologies changing at an alarming pace. This has also transformed the way in which the web user searches and digs out information. These days, the information retrieval is so fast (Example: I Am Feeling Lucky makes way for multi-page SERPs browsing) and hence it requires a change in the way in which SEO Optimization is done as well.
Search User Access Points
The traditional way of searching directly from the search engine web site is still the most popular method but it has been complemented well by the new channels such as:
- Web browser Toolbars (e.g. Google Toolbar)
- Desktop Widgets
- Instant Messenger Clients
- Pervasive Devices (e.g. Smart Phones)
- Search Engine powered local site searches
The above search access channels along with the new usability aspects that control the search user behavior (in terms of ‘what he searches for’ and ‘what he does with the Search Engine Result Pages) is throwing a set of new challenges at the SEO gurus.
New Challenges and hence new SEO requirements
I Am Feeling Lucky attidude: Google did a good thing by introducing this feature because they were too quick to realize that the search users are loosing patience faster. Search users of today want results within four or five seconds which also means that nobody has time to go beyond the first (or in worst case the second) page of the search results. Hence, getting on to first page of the search results pages (and even first spot there in) is becoming even more important but not necessarily via the hottest key phrases.
Hot key-phrases may not remain hot any more: Another innovation that Google brought into search is the ‘Did you mean this?’ question in case of a potentially wrong input. This has resulted in decision making even before actual search is initiated. Even better is the new AJAX based autofill capabilities that is available with most of the search engines (e.g. Yahoo Search Assist) and toolbars these days. What this means is that hot keywords do not necessarily get searched for but whatever might attract the user in terms of the first 10 (or visible droplist items) suggestions or so get searched for more often. Challenges here are the focus on the long tail, importance of the alphabetical order and natural sequencing, focus on the first word of the keyphrase etc
Promotion and Demotion of SERPs items: Oh well, now this is the newest thing with the Google. The user now has the chance to promote his own search results making the promoted entries kind of their favorites so that subsequent similar searches list them on top. What does this signify? It only means that if the same client is searching for a particular keyphrase again, the SEO has no major role to play if already promoted entries exist. Though, this scenario is highly unlikely to have a huge impact it is definitely a trend. Who knows, probably Google is using this promotion preferences to rank search results better in the future.
Site Searches loosing importance: Google came up with the Google-enabled site search sometime back. Unfortunately, the importance of site searches is fast disappearing except for an old visitor vaguely remembering what he has seen at a particular site comes back and searches. Basically the paradigm is that you have a lot of information centrally available and hence a search hit doesn’t result in subsequent searches locally but the user goes back and searches again. However, this may be still a useful feature for huge knowledge reporitories (e.g. Online versions of Newspapers). Could internal linking – except for natural user accessibility reasons and not for searches – play a lesser role in page ranking?
Search Results Consolidation: Google’s Search Engine Marketing and integration of other services into search results means that now there’re more things to distract the search users. E.g. Sponsored links, Google App results, different forms of ads, Image Search results, Videos, Corporate information in case of a brand keyword search, stock quotes etc can together appear as the search result set. This would necessiate that SEO should be done towards optimizing all possible aspects of your brand (including images, videos, news, copyrighted brand subjects etc). This implies that on-page SEO has to be supplemented with image searchability, related tag optimizations, video marketing, stuffing similar keywords in related news & PRs (Press Releases), offline marketing campaigns etc. Just like Google, new innovative search engines such as LeapFish are evolving faster with consolidated search experience. Multi-facet SEO could be the next thing!
Natural Language queries: If there is a single thing, that can change the entire SEO paradigm and SEO related services around search engines drastically in the next few years, it is the natural language processing advancement – even via channels like voice on Mobile phones. If this happens at all, the importance of keywords might go away gradually.
Many of the things mentioned here are already happening though some of them are futuristic. I personally feel that Search Engine Optimization in some form or other will definitely exist. Because essentially we have to take the information seekers (e.g. search or voice users) to the right destination and tweaking those routes and destinations always have some scope.
Happy SEO and please do bookmark this post if found useful.