There has been much speculation about how personal and local search, which I term “Specialized Search,” will affect search marketing strategies in the future. Although it feels recent, the discussion of more specialized search systems really started to heat up back in 2004, when Google’s Sergey Brin made comments concerning Google’s foray into Specialized Search technologies. Bill Slawski, our industry’s legal expert, has done a masterful job of following the patents issued to the search engines for various new personalized search techniques, and he asks insightful questions on how these patented technologies might affect search in the future. Bill helps me think, which isn’t easy. Bill’s SEO by the Sea blog has a has a full category on the personalization of search. It is worthy of your time if you want to better understand the great strides search engines are making to innovate to further customize the search experience for every individual client.
Additionally, Michael’s post of yesterday entitled: Local Search is Changed Forever – Now Google Knows Where You Are also discusses the amazing trends in local search. None of us should be surprised that the search engines are going to try to improve the search experience for their clients, it is basic economic principles at work here. We have to remember that Google and Yahoo! are competitors, I would say fierce competitors, and if these companies do not evolve, and implement new & better search strategies, then they run the risk of losing market share, and eventually becoming irrelevant over time. I don’t think either company will allow themselves to become the next Excite.com in the world of search.
There are many who believe Google and to a lessor extent Yahoo! are out to kidnap our personal preferences, and somehow use this “personal” data for some unsightly purpose in the future. Yes, even in search we have our own group of conspiracy theorists. I have read blogs recently of some who feel tricked that Google has been modifying their search results, based on their personal search histories and their locations, without their permission. While I am not one that wants to lose any personal freedoms, if while I’m using Google’s service, Google saves my search history to improve my search experience in the future, it seems like a pretty good business decision in my mind. Nothing overly Orwellian about it, just a vendor trying to better help a client, and fight off competition. If I am more satisfied with my search results, then the chances of me moving to another search engine is greatly reduced. That is pretty much what all of us business people are attempting to accomplish, develop a loyal customer base, and do all we can to prevent them from going elsewhere. If we aren’t moving forward in the marketplace, we are being left behind.
So as search results become more based on individuals, what effect will that have on SEO, and SEO strategies? It is an interesting question. If each of us are getting manipulated/personalized results based on our personal search history, then how can the SEOs “prove” their worth to their clients? I mean if we can’t see our sites rocketing up the SERPs, and show our friends, how will we know what we have paid out has been it? Or how will be know our personal SEO efforts are effective? While the benefits of SEO work may not be as obvious and homogeneous on the SERPs, we can be hopeful the resulting traffic driven to our sites will become more qualified, and our conversion rates will hopefully climb a bit. We have heard many times, we should rather have 10 people visit with 5 people purchasing, then 1000 visiting with only 1 purchase (assuming we aren’t a big Adsense site).
I believe specialized search will also increase the importance and necessity for more online competitive analysis strategies. Michael and I have been discussing other competitive analysis tools to add to SoloSEOs current tool set to further improve our clients abilities to understand what the competition is up to, especially when compared side-by-side to their own site’s performance. Then clients will be able to use the trends these metrics provide to accurately measure how effective their SEO strategies are within their competitive marketplace. Competitive analysis will provide more of the confirmation we need on our SEO strategies, especially as SERPs continue to morph to meet the personalized needs of search clients. It will be exciting. I will be interested to see if specialized search might possibly give those who didn’t get out online as quickly as they had wished, an increased ability capture new specialized clients by focusing on long-tail keyword phrases relevant to their specific market.
It is going to be fun to watch and be apart of all the fast approaching changes, and it will be fascinating to see which of us figures out how to capitalize on the new opportunities of Specialized Search.
We are looking forward to meeting many of you at PubCon in a few days, I did enjoy it last year. Please travel safe and enjoy. As an alum of UNLV, I know from personal experience, Vegas can be great, and Vegas can be absolute crap. I hope the former Vegas for all of you. If you to make is to PubCon, please come up and say “hi,” we are going to be handing out some SoloSEO SWAG, which is pretty cool. Quantities are limited. I may resemble one, but I am not a pack mule. 🙂 )