In a recent video on the Google Webmaster Central Channel, Matt Cutts was asked:
What do you predict will be the big changes to “search” as we know it today over the next 3 years? What are some of today’s trends that you believe will shape the future of Google search?
Matt’s response is fascinating. We read between the lines a little to help identify several new areas of SEO you should work to improve in 2010.
New Kinds of Data
First, Matt mentions that Google is always on the lookout for new kinds of data to search, such as email, patents, books and calendars. They’re all significantly different data types, but they all need to have the capability to be searched.
Insight: Look for Google to introduce new and further enhanced search methods to crawl multiple data types.
Greater Use of Semantics and Statistical Processes
Matt notes that many users think if they search for “a, b and c” that a search engine simply returns variations of that query, without realizing the complicated nature of Google’s algorithm. He explains that Google is constantly striving to improve its understanding of words, documents and queries. Using semantics and statistical processes in the algorithm will help Google return better results, and enable them to tackle harder problems.
Insight: Searching, navigation and the link flow of a user will start to have a bigger influence on their algorithm. Also, further influence will be given to META data and machine readable code, like microformats, in Web accessible content.
Extracting Good Data from the Web
Google may not have been the first search engine to embark on the quest to extract good (or better) data, but Google Squared certainly tips their hand.
Google Squared allows a user to enter a search query and manipulate the results.
Combine Google Squared with the introduction of customizable search features and you put the user in control of the end result.
Insight: I can’t help but think this somehow relates to personalization and localization. Information Retrieval is going to play a key role for Internet Marketers, helping them to understand a) what type of query it is (navigational, transactional, informational) b) where the user is searching from (localization) and c) the user intent (what they will do with the information).
Mobile Will be a Big Trend
In an article on our Internet Marketing blog a few weeks ago – How to Make Your Website Accessible to Mobile Devices – we discussed different methods of optimizing your website for the Mobile Web. Apparently we’re not the only ones predicting a big future for mobile accessibility.
Matt points out their are triple or quadruple the number of mobile devices compared to desktop computers. As more and more users migrate to mobile platforms, they’re going to expect the same functionality they get from desktop browser-based searches. And the result may not only be better mobile search, it may be the integration of SMS, which should dramatically change the playing field.
Insight: Preparing and optimizing your website to be more accessible to mobile devices will prepare you for the new mobile audience. If Google deems the Mobile Web a future trend, you need to pay attention.
Even though Matt didn’t mention it in the video, the site performance tool introduced yesterday to Webmaster Tools is also an indication of Google’s intent. If that’s not enough to persuade you to speed up your site for Google, remember that he did mention site speed as a ranking factor in 2010 during his panel at PubCon Las Vegas.
Insight: If you love standards, accessibility, speed and microformats, 2010 will be your year. Integrate them into a website and that’s at least one ranking factor you can count on.