I am talking about something huge that will happen pretty soon, I assume in the next year or two: SEO becoming obsolete. Google has already talking about it for quite some time; it’s become reality in both their Labs and in actual SERP (search engine results pages).
In this new world, search results will be different for every individual. They will be personalized. It will be impossible to rank high for even one keyword for all searchers. The days of current common search results are numbered.
So why will there be no more SEO? And why is an SEO guy like me so excited about it? Here are four major factors of this new search age:
Behavioral Targeting: Results will be industry-specific and location-based. This will make it possible to bring completely different search results to individuals and make it impossible for current leaders to rank high for certain keywords in every place and for everyone. If you are in Los Angeles, you will see more local results, especially if you searched for services or products. If you are on a military base in Afghanistan, you will get results that include companies with the ability to ship to your specific location. For the IT industry, if someone searches for ”cookies” the results will talk about Internet cookies; for non-tech people it will show results on delicious, sweet treats. Right now, you get both kinds of cookie results no matter who you are.
You might also fill out a ”search profile.” If you let Google know more about you (and trust me when I say you will), even more specific ”you-targeted” results will be brought to your screen. Wouldn’t it be better to see something you were looking for? Do these functions help create more relevant results and create a better search experience? Absolutely, no doubt about that. But how? That brings me to the next factor”¦
Web History: What did you search before? Your web search history is known – those damn Internet cookies make it happen. Cookies are pieces of information that are placed in the temporary files on your computer, letting search engines like Google know a bit about you, and letting them remember you on your next visits. Google uses its tool called ”web history.” Depending on what you searched before, and what you clicked before, and what your search preferences are, you’ll get personalized results.
Intention Searches: Any search engine user is either a researcher or a shopper – that’s how Google sees it. It will ask, is this search query more for research or for shopping? What keywords did the searcher use? Did the person look for methods or for prices? Search results will depend on the answers to these and other questions. To simplify: For those who shop, products and services will be shown; those who research will be given resources, reviews, articles, and the like.
Unified Results: This is already seen quite often with Google. Among regular search results, we see additional categories in the SERP: News, videos, blogs, images, maps, books, etc. This means that, depending on the search volumes for other forms of data, results will be pulled out to the main SERP and thus will move down many sites competing for certain keywords, making the SEO competition closer to impossible.
For you and I, search engine results will be different. SEO experts wouldn’t be able to use their ranking portfolios anymore, since it wouldn’t be possible to confirm those. But all this will improve the web search experience for everyone – and that is why I am so excited about it. It will balance the competition, and it will give the smaller guys a chance to start getting more targeted traffic – traffic that had just been gobbled by the big sites.
The new search age will not kill SEO; it will just make it harder for SEO pros to prove their abilities. That doesn’t mean that old good testimonials, reviews, and ratings wouldn’t count anymore – they will just gain more value. The new age will make it harder for SEO non-experts to achieve results; for experienced folks, I think it will be easier. There wouldn’t be a simple way to track and test your work, but it would be clearer to know what you must do to rank higher. We all would be able to achieve much better results in terms of high-quality traffic and conversions to our websites.
Here is a little tip that will make a big difference for the upcoming new search age: Know your target audience and you won’t fail!
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