At the annual SEO geek-fest at Pubcon last week, there was a lot of buzz over predictions for 2009. Specifically, SEO guru Bruce Clay made some predictions about changes he expects to see from Google. Additionally Matt Cutts from Google went on camera and gave us his insights into what we might expect to see from Google.
Here are some of the highlights and my take on these predictions.
We don’t have to wait until 2009. Google launched GoogleWiki yesterday. You now have the ability to personalize your search results by editing out irrelevant search results, moving around your favorite rankings and even adding some. Google will remember this so your future search results will be more relevant. You can also comment on search results similar to commenting in a blog. You must be signed into your Google account. The idea is to get more personalized results when you search in Google. But, beware the rankings people see will no longer be exactly the same or predictable. Search engine rankings can vary from one person to another due to this personalization capability.
Google has enough history on your IP and search history that it will serve you relevant results based on your location and your search history. If you search for a bank and you’re located in Florida, you’ll get different results than the person searching for a bank who is located in Michigan.
Rich Media Content is King
Google’s Universal Search approach to presenting search results is evolving. If you provide your visitors a diversified mix of content including images, voice, video and interactive functions like RSS widgets Google will reward this mix of content. Universal search results present searchers with options to view results not limited to web pages including those shown below from SearchEngineLand.
Comparative Ranking Sources Expand & Blending No Longer Subtracts
When Universal Search launched, comparative ranking ran against these vertical or specialized search engines as well as web search:
Since around December, Google says two more vertical search engines have been added to the list:
What Does This Mean to Marketers?
Ah, this is the question of the day. First, it means that we need to be thinking about our content strategy. We need to plan to offer our audience a diversified mix of content. Text content alone will not cut it in the long run for competitive keywords. Content such as images, video, audio, widgets, PDFs, blogs, wikis, etc., offer visitors a richer experience than just plain text content. In essence Google wants to reward marketers who give their site visitors a rich media content experience.
What Does This Mean to SEO Services Firms like Find and Convert?
SEO services firms need to be marketers first and foremost and SEO geeks secondly. We need to focus on driving qualified sales traffic to your website and tracking conversions and the real business value of your overall SEO program. Rather than tracking search engine rankings, we need to track business results. Some of the metrics we’ve tracked in the past will need to change with more focus on business results.
This will force some SEO services firms to change their business model to deliver tangible value to their clients. I don’t expect this to be a major problem for most SEO firms except perhaps those whose background is very technical with limited marketing expertise.
I have a high opinion of the vast majority of my peers in the SEO industry. Whenever I attend an industry event such as Pubcon I am always impressed with the quality of people I meet. So, I am optimistic that SEO firms will generally continue to be valuable resources to their clients.
Are you ready for the evolution of SEO in 2009? It’s already started. So, the time to get ready is yesterday.