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Jody Nimetz on the Future of Search
Thursday, May 10, 2007

Word on the street is that there is a little blogging contest going on about the future of search. At first I wasn’t going to participate, but then I had a change of heart. So I thought of what I could write about and came up with the ideas for the ABC’s of the Future of Search.

So just when you thought that search was crossing the chasm it takes a left turn and whoomp here we are. So here are the
ABC's on where I see the future of Search going.

A - ASK becomes the leader in personalization of online search and the first to provide unique results pages for each and every user. While fending off potential mergers with Microsoft, ASK develops a new set of algorithms and creates the largest social community on the Web.

B - Blog Posting becomes a key factor of ranking algorithms and more integrated with personalized search results that are seen by individual users. Blog posting becomes a necessity of big business as a means of reputation management acting as a feedback mechanism for their clients, prospects and competitors.

C - Consumer Driven Search where the consumer decides and dictates which results are relevant forcing irrelevant results into search purgatory. Consumers are able to create their own results page based on the sites, images, audio and video that they want to appear.

D - Desktop Search is built in to all computers regardless of preferred "search engine"

E - External Linking Inventories are no longer as major of a factor in the ranking of webpages as consumers of search strive for the most relevant result regardless of how many "backlinks" a site has. Search engine marketers switch focus from link building to creation of useful content that naturally attracts "industry links". Industry links become important as all webpages are given a numerical PageRank-like value as a result of a user's past search history.

F - Firefox Browser replaces Internet Explorer as the World's # 1 Browser and becomes an integral part of many users starting point for going online and conducting a search. The Firefox browser now has a personalized "trigger" feature that notifies users of queries that serve up results that may not be part of the semantic map that the searcher may have had based on previous browsing experience.

G - Google (GOOG) continues to grow as a leading media outlet and provider of the world's information breaking down global walls with a worldwide strategy that includes personalization of results via a variety of options including search history, geo-locale, and behavioral targeting. Google becomes second to ASK in terms of providing relevant results for the user experience. To avoid charges of being a monopoly, Google works closer with Yahoo, ASK and other search vehicles to provide the world's knowledge to those who seek it.

H - Hadron is a new social network collectively created by Google, Yahoo and ASK that is part of a group of related search vehicles that provides an environment for strong interaction between community members.

I - Indexing of content becomes more efficient as duplicate webpages and similar content are simply removed from the index of search vehicles. Search engines "archive" old index results that users can access at their leisure. For example a user of ASK can visit the ASK archive and select a year (ie 2004) where when they do a query for a phrase, a traditional universal SERP is returned with the actual results for that query during that specified time (2004).

J - Joost becomes the number one source of online TV and radio programming and forces satellite TV providers to provide free online programming. Google who owns Joost then become a major player in network TV and radio continuing to provide content and programming based on consumer demand.

K - Keyword Search remains important, 'nuff said.

L - Local Search explodes and advertisers place more focus on local search as users of search prefer local personalized results over the main search index when they are ready to make a purchase decision.

M - Microsoft (MSFT) struggle to keep up with Google with their futile attempts as opposed to being innovative and developing search technologies with the user in mind. After failing to partner with ASK and Yahoo, Microsoft is left as a standalone and force Bill Gates out of retirement in 2015 to revive the once mighty organization. Windows Live Search is re-branded a number of times with little success as Microsoft simply does not succeed in search.

N - Non-believers of search come to realize that traditional media is doomed to diminishing returns and play "catch up" to the early adopters of search marketing. Ad agencies scramble to acquire search engine marketing firms and the pioneers of search marketers with veteran experience become highly sought after earning salaries equivalent to those of professional athletes and Hollywood actors.

O - Organic Search switches from tactics to user experience with search engine marketers focusing on their client's consumer and with the end in mine to improve the online presence of their clients. Organic search marketing continues to develop into a specialized branch of marketing.

P - Personalization becomes the norm with search. Each and every user experience is somewhat unique and cannot be easily duplicated. Universal search results are a thing of the past except with Microsoft as they still haven't figured it out yet.

Q - Query History becomes even more important as iGoogle, iASK and iYahoo all become standard search vehicles used by the masses.

R - Ranking, Relevancy and Results now focus on the user as opposed to the complex algorithms of the past. The consumers of search drive which results are returned and ranked based on relevancy to their search query. While the algorithms are still required the engines that use them improve them to deliver relevant results. Irrelevant results are "voted" out by the users of search.

S - Search Engines become "Search Vehicles" where users enjoy a total experience and are presented with multiple avenues for acquiring the information they seek. They are presented with options based on their query where the user drives the search vehicle to find the information that they are looking for regardless of the number of links to a site, the age of a site and other traditional ranking factors.

Search becomes more important than ever as the Internet becomes the most widely used media resource with access to:

* Almost all TV programs from all over the world. Downloading TV programs becomes as mainstream as downloading music is now.
* Almost all movies as you are now able to download any movie you want (including new releases in real time) to your living room for viewing
* Thousands of newspapers from around the globe
* Millions of radio programs and podcasts
* All music released since 1950 (including songs, albums and lyrics). Due to copyright issues the source providing the music (ie. the search engines) set up a method for compensating the artist directly, record companies are a thing of the past
* Source of numerous books and magazines. Due to copyright issues the source (ie. the search engines) providing the material set up a method for compensating the publisher/owner directly

T - Targeting of user search behavior becomes more necessary as consumers continue to drive the marketing process. The consumer continues to dictate what information is presented to them and when. Consumers become tired of receiving advertisements on their phones, through their email, traditional media and as a result begin boycotting advertisers who "over-push" their products or services. There is a slight resurgence with the "mom & pop" mentality as these organizations provide a more personable experience and direct marketing approach (as initiated by the consumer)

U - Usability and understanding that the consumer is driving the marketing process becomes reality and forces large scale changes in marketing and in search. Unique search results pages for users of search continue to be all the rage and focus on the user experience is the driving factor for all online marketing campaigns.

V - Viral Search becomes the new Google and is a consumer driven service that allows users to communicate their needs via an online environment consisting of blogs, websites, online video, widgets and forums. Viral becomes so popular that they purchase Windows Live (MSN) from Microsoft and turn the also-ran search engine into the most popular consumer driven "search-vehicle" on the web. Think of it as advertising by the consumer for the consumer.

W - Web Consortium implements regulation on all online advertising. Establishes a United Nations-like presence to address online issues and concerns.

X - XML continues to deliver structured content over the Web and remains a key component of how efficient content is delivered over the Web through the various search vehicles.

Y – Yahoo (YHOO), like Google, focused on personalization and with their massive amount of user data addressed the needs of users who were willing to sign up for a Yahoo account over the years. Yahoo as a search vehicle started to learn from their user's search behavior, identifying themes, topics and web site neighborhoods/communities of particular interest. Relevant pages were given a boost for each and every user as they experienced unique search engine results. Yahoo becomes the first search engine to share actual search volume numbers with the masses as traditional SEO tactics become less effective with personalization. Rumors of Microsoft and Yahoo merging subside as Yahoo outline an effective business plan/strategy in 2008 based on the use of information gathered from Yahoo's two bookmarking services iYahoo (formerly MyWeb) and del.icio.us.

Yahoo continues to be the leader in housing user-generated content and again becomes the most visited property on the Web. As a result Yahoo reaps the reward of increased advertising revenue through their now successful Yahoo Panama Platform. With this additional revenue, Yahoo acquires Apple in a surprising move that is estimated to be worth 80 billion dollars.

Z - Zeitgeist - the philosophy of Search 1.0 from 1994-2007 becomes an integral part of marketing history and becomes part of the curriculum of business marketing classes.

and what's this a second listing for the letter "Z"? Yup

Z Index of Search - search results that remain constant. Meaning that regardless of the query performed, the search results presented will be constant based on traditional search algorithms. Users will have the choice of personalized results or selecting the Z-Index of results which are basically a universal results page similar to what we see now. The Z-Index of Search is the opposite of personalized search.

Is search marketing dying? Nope quite the contrary as "search marketing" is just finding its legs. You see we as people have been searching since the beginning of time. We have searched for food, for water, for shelter, for fire. Others have searched for companionship, searched for acceptance, searched for truth and justice. People will always search. They search for knowledge, for long lost family members, for history, for treasures, for answers. People search for the statistics, for upcoming events, for entertainment, for research. People search for Britney Spears, for apple pie, for travel arrangements, for world news, for cheaper gas prices, for real estate, for renovation ideas. People search for the next big thing, for a pair of cross trainer running shoes, for hockey tickets, for schools, for product reviews, for their future. You see people search for information. Marketing (in whatever form it may take) to those who search for information will always be there.

People will always be seeking knowledge. Long after Google is dead and gone, people will still be searching for information.

If there is no future in search then there is no future at all.

Labels: ,

posted by Jody @ Thursday, May 10, 2007  
  • At 3:59 PM, Blogger Rob said…

    C'mon Jody I would have thought you'd be a little more creative.

    I mean, I like the abc's but you're talking about stuff that others have already talked about. Why not get creative and think about search marketing out 5 or 6 years not 2 or 3.

    FYI. I agree, search marketing is far from dying, but search engine marketing is.

  • At 1:34 PM, Blogger Jody said…

    Interesting comment considering you're the first and only one (from the numerous amounts of feedback that I have received) that thinks the post was not "creative". Which is why your comment will be the only one that I will post.

    The title of the post is the "future of search" as opposed to the "future of search marketing" per se. While I have touched on various aspects of search engine marketing the underlying them was "search" itself.

    It will be consumers who drive search.... it will be consumers who drive marketing. Marketing as we know it is heading for a massive transformation. In my opinion, "search engine marketing" has been "dead" for some time, online marketing and strategic planning is just starting to blossom. The days of SEM tactics are numbered. High level strategic solutions is where it's at and where we are heading. Consumer driven marketing and consumer driven search will change how the game is played.

    In 5-6 years search marketing will be driven by the consumer.

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