This is the second post in the ‘decade in search’ series. We’ll probbaly see a whole host of predictions being made for 2010, but before making ours we thought we’d the take time to review the major events that have shaped the search industry over the last 10 years.
2001 was a hugely successful year for Google, despite the dot-com bust of the time. Eric Schmidt was appointed as the chairman in March, the man who would later announce for the very first time that Google was profitable. In the cautious world following the dot-com bust, Wall Street analysts valued the company at $250 million. In other search news:
- A watchdog group filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission arguing that eight major search engines, including Altavista, Direct Hit, Lycos and Microsoft, violated the truth-in-advertising rules by not having clear disclosure that some of the listings were paid for.
- Google pushes to improve its service by indexing and returning PDFs, the first search engine to do so.
- Altavista mentioned that it had patented the ability to crawl and index the web. It’s CEO of the parent company, David Wetherell said “We believe that virtually everyone out there who indexes the Web is in violation of at least several of those key patents”. The statement was not received well.
- Lycos cuts down on staff after seeing a significant revenue drop, as well as losing some of its top management team.
- Timothy Koogle steps aside as the Chief Executive of Yahoo, which leads to falling shares for the largest Internet company that made its money through advertising.
- Yahoo partners with Overture to display paid for listings next to its natural listings.
Google have been very busy innovating because as from yesterday a selective number of users can now view “latest results” which is the incorporation of the most up to date relevant results in to the search results, all of this being done in real time. This will slowly be rolled out to all English speaking users. The most anticipated feature which we have all been waiting for is the inclusion of twitter results in Google. The new development will also see results being pulled in from news sources, blogs, and social media such as YouTube and Flickr. Here are the results when you do a search for Christmas Shopping
So far I have seen to see “latest results” for generic search queries (typically one, two words), what is even more interesting is the fact that Google will serve latest results even when Google is pulling in news results too. This means that you can see even more up to date developments on a current news story. The beauty of this is that users will be able to see latest results for stories that are not even “hot topics”, so users will be able to read real time results for TV programs, sport events, or even computer games. A search for “Modern Warfare 2” will show you tweets of everyone loving this game.
Google is really trying to stay one step ahead of the competition. I wonder what they will do next? Here is a short clip of Google showing off what the new latest results could show.
There has been many updates happening over the past few days in Google, a lot of which you can read about in our most recent posts.
Just now I have just noticed a further update to the SERPs:
You can see on the second listing of this SERP that Google has specified that this site is tailored to the United States – this search was done through Google UK. This must be tied into how a site is geo-targeted via its Google Webmaster tools account, but it could also take into account other factors to determine geo-relevancy such as the regional terminology used on the site and how link equity is split between different regions.
This update to a SERP listing still seems to be very much in the test phase and has not been fully rolled out across all searches.
When Google does roll this out what we would expect to see it a reduced click-through rate for non-local listing – however that is assuming searchers will notice this addition before clicking through.
This is the first post in the ‘decade in search’ series. We’ll probbaly see a whole host of predictions being made for 2010, but before making ours we thought we’d the take time to review the major events that have shaped the search industry over the last 10 years.
Back in the year 2000 I was coming to the end of my end of college and planning my gap year, although I had used search engines during my A Levels I had absolutely no idea of the search engine optimisation industry out there. I wouldn’t have much of a clue about Search Engine Optimisation for another 6 years.
What happened in search in 2000 and how did it help shape the industry?
- Matt Cutts joined Google in January as a Software Engineer, since then (some might say despite being head of the webspam team) he’s become a popular figure in the SEO community, acting as a spokesperson for Google offering insights into Google and related SEO issues.
- New Search Engine Teoma was launched. Teoma used a link popularity algorithm which was more focused on the benefit from contextual links than Google’s PageRank, now referred to as ExpertRank, Teoma still powers Ask.com today.
- Back in 2000 high quality directories where actually used for searching for websites, Google joined AltaVista, AOL, HotBot, Lycos, and others in integrating Open Directory Project data into search results and using the data for its own directory. Unlike other directories that sorted alphabetically the Google Directory integrated its search technology for ranking of the sites, firstly applying “Importance Ranking” the PageRank algorithm before looking at the sites content using “advanced technology that powers its regular web search to search”.
- In June Google became Yahoo’s default search engine provider taking over from Inktomi, – seems things haven’t changed too much for Yahoo. The deal gave Google’s Search Engine massive exposure through Yahoo, which at the time was described in a Google Press Release as the most popular navigational guide to the Web. Yahoo would later revert back to Inktomi, buying the company as Google became a major threat to Yahoo’s business.
- That same day in June Google announced it had the world’s biggest index, the new index comprised of more than 1 billion URLs (the current index size is said to be about 1 trillion). This gave the crawler based engine a massive advantage over other human categorised engines as its technology kept results relevant and the crawler-based results far more comprehensive.
- Google Launches the Google Toolbar complete with visible PageRank, allowing people to “Automatically determine web page importance for every page browsed, with Google’s award-winning PageRank(TM) technology” and webmasters to obsess about PageRank for years to come. It could be argued that by displaying PageRank data Google may have inadvertently help launch paid links that still blight its search results to this day.
- 2000 was the year that Google became a successful search engine and it hasn’t looked back. Both popular with the average joe and webmasters alike for its clean, banner ad free look, relevant results and huge index, many of the reasons it’s still a success today.
As part of Google’s aim is to provide more relevant and useful results, on Friday Google announced on their blog that they are now personalising results based upon 180 days of a users search activity. This has been the case for some time for Google users signed into their accounts, who have ‘Web History’ enabled, but this has now been rolled out to user’s results whether a user is signed in or not and has not specifically opted out of ‘Personalized Results’.
Using a cookie placed on users’ machines to track their search behavior Google uses web history to artificially inflate a sites ranking depending on a users previous preference to use that site in previous searches. You can opt out of personalised results, but it is unlikely the majority of users will.
Although this change will go relatively unnoticed to the average Google user, this has an impact on SEO. Traditional ‘ranking reports’ will be less representative of what users will see in the SERPs and the importance of regular, new, interesting and relevant onsite content and distribution of this online will be more key to help increase a sites ranking.
Ranking reports ensuring that there is no previous web history on the machine to skew results will show a snapshot of the SERPs at a basic level of a where sites rank in relation to one another prior to a user having any web history.
Providing more content on a site and attracting visitors to it regularly could help the site to rank higher in a Google users personalised SERP. If for example a hotel company provides regular and interesting content which a user regularly visits, when the user comes to search for ‘hotels’, they are more than likely to see the site they regularly visit for information ranking higher than it naturally ranks in a SERP where there is no previous web history of having visited that site.
Personalised search results is another one of Google’s ways to provide relevant content to the user and is in addition to other recent changes made by Google to improve relevancy in their results, such as Social Search, Twitter inclusion and the use of search query patterns & click through data to order results.
With the recent introduction to Google’s Social Search, brands will need to consider how they will get themselves into people’s social searches in good time before the Google social search becomes more mainstream.
Social search results are just another area of Google’s real estate to aim to be visible in for brands in addition to the standard results.
Google have already mentioned the social sites and resources they will use to identify who is within users social circle, so these exact places are where brands need to be. These include:
- Gmail Contacts
- Google Reader
Being present in these online social arenas is not purely enough, but brands also need to be active here, using them as an everyday platform to promote their products and sharing their knowledge and expertise in their specialised areas.
The use of Google Analytics is currently subject to a heated debate in Germany, dealing with web analytics and data protection. On Friday, November 27th the “Düsseldorfer Kreis”, a panel of the German supreme supervisory authorities for data protection, said that the collection of IP addresses violates current law. In particular, the creation of user profiles is caught in the line of fire. What will this mean for digital marketing?
For the storage of personal data there are strict requirements in Germany. They may be collected only with the consent of the user. For Internet Service Providers it’s possible to identify a user on the basis of the IP address. Advertisers who use web analytics software possibly store IP addresses; however, as long as the user is not logged in to in to a web service, it is not possible to retrieve any information about the person behind the IP address.
Special attention is currently devoted to Google Analytics. The German data protection commissioners worry that Google uses web analytics data to create user profiles. In the terms of service (TOS) (1) Google assured they won’t link the IP address to other Google data, but they also retain the right to change the TOS at any time. Millions of websites are affected. According to a recent article of Zeit online(2) more than 13 percent of all German websites use Google Analytics.
The controversial question still is: Are IP addresses personal data? Now the German courts have to decide. The legal situation is still unclear.
For digital marketing agencies like iCrossing, web analytics are very important. We use tools like Google Analytics to measure visits, page views, bounce rates and other performance indicators. The behaviour of an individual user is not relevant for us, so we have no interest in storing the user’s personal data.
I personally consider IP addresses no personal data. An IP address can change at any time, it can be shared and you never really know who the person behind the screen is.
Nevertheless: If the Germans courts decide that IP addresses are personal data this would be a slap in the face for the whole online industry.
It’s possible that the internet is going to keep me and many others in a permanent state of mental adolescence.
2009′s been a bad year for it – first there was Spotify, which instantly transformed my music listening and sharing habits. Then there was Twitter, which woke up after a year snoozing and ate my blog.
And now my world’s been realigned again: this time by Posterous.
I was alerted to it by Antony’s recent presentation, which gave it a special mention among things to watch out for in 2010. Since then I’ve gone slightly nuts for it.
Others have done the hard work of describing what Posterous does: in short, it’s a tool that makes it absurdly easy to publish text/audio/images/video and push it to wherever else you’d like it go.
This is a really useful infographic (found via Fast Company blog) mapping the social networking, free marketing ecosystem. Designed by Chris Watson at Visualization Magazine it shows 30 different web 2.0 services offering free sites, feeds or embeds.
It fits nicely into the networked architecture approach, the idea that your brand lives in many more places than simply the domain that you own. There’s now a whole wealth of free content management systems, social networks, bookmarking tools that you can use to promote a brand, product or service. This is something that I believe all companies should map as part of their distributed content strategy.
The map shows places that you can create content, along with icons as to how you can publish (RSS, Print) and the connecting lines show where you could potentially re-publish that content again.
The map also illustrates which of these services provides stats so that you can measure more than your own on-site analytics. Stats from the other 3rd party sites can potentially give clearer insight into the ‘network value’ of your content. For instance; Youtube shows how many times your video has been embedded and shared else-where, other than just views of the video on-site.
People absorb content on the web in more ways than ever, there’s an opportunity for brands/people to produce ultra- shareable content very cost effectively. The more ways the merrier I think, but keep in mind that its probably better to do fewer well than do lots badly. To simply use many of these platforms as a broadcast medium would not be wise, the true value lies in the engagement and feedback that you can potentially receive from each of the individual audiences around the network.
Image Credit: Flickr User visual think map (If, like me, your a fan of infographs there’s lots there! )
There have been significant developments with Google, Bing and of course Twitter of late that has lead to some questions being delivered to us here at iCrossing. I thought it would be good to share some of these questions with the Connect readers and even try answering some of them…
What significant implications will this have for brands? How will this change their search marketing strategies?
The Twitter channel is another exciting space for people to have conversations and share their experiences with brands and products. As Twitter has grown in terms of usage we have seen users adopt applications such as TweetDeck to enable them to search, group and monitor Twitter activity more affectively where Twitter.com hasn’t so far (though Twitter Lists has now been released).
Bing and Twitter service is yet another platform to allow brands to operate within. With this service however it’s not just about serving the user the most recent tweets about a particular topic but also top links shared about a topic within the Twitter community.
What this means is that Brand will need to have a Twitter voice and search marketing strategies will need to continue to understand what language their customers are using The main variable that will change is the time factor. This will relate to execution of strategy, looking at trending topics and the brands that will win will be the one that knows their market best and what’s coming tomorrow.
What sectors will benefit the most from Google Social?
Google Social Google states that its new service called “‘Google Social Search” helps you find more relevant public content from your broader social circle”. This search can be described as a form of trusted search much like how Google may view authority sites or immediately give trust to ac.uk and gov.uk sites due to their domain extension. This is a separate service to what Bing is doing with Twitter. Bing is using real time searching and using Twitter as it data source. A search for Brighton only shows tweets within the last 8 minutes:
- Connect – iCrossing U.K.
- Conecta2 – iCrossing LATAM & Spain
- Greatfinds – iCrossing U.S.
- Talblick – iCrossing Germany
- The Content Lab
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Other Blogs We Recommend
- Core Audience
- Forrester Blogs
- Google Plus Blog
- iMedia Connection
- Media Monkey
- Mobile, Social, Ambient by Rachel Pasqua
- Online Marketing Blog by Tristán Elósegui
- Search Engine Land
- The Content Lab
- The Facebook Blog
- The Official Google Blog
- Twitter Blog
- Wired Sussex
- WSJ Digits