Recently Enquiro President, Gord Hotchkiss, wrote about the changing landscape of SEM in his third installment of "SEM's Seven Year Itch".
He is exactly right when he states "... we're rapidly approaching the day when being number one ceases to have any meaning." This is the old school approach to search engine marketing and SEO. Whether you are a black-hat or white-hat SEO, things are about to get a lot different and possibly more difficult for you. This "old-school" view of trying to get to number one in the rankings is in fact tied to the concept of a universal results page as Gord has mentioned in his piece.
Power to the People
According to the major search engines, one of their main goals is to provide relevant results and give the people what they want when they perform a search query. Well in order to give the people what they want, you have to listen to the people. You cannot give the people what they want by having a universal results page. Let's think about this for a second. When someone is interested in classical music for example and performs a search for "classical music" how can every person be looking for the same thing when they conduct this search? The fact is that they are not. Some may be looking for a musical score others may be looking for a history about Ludwig van Beethoven, yet others may be looking for information on the cello. Everyone has a unique method of searching for and acquiring information. Ever heard of semantic mapping? Basically semantic mapping is where you have a compilation of a cluster of words or phrases with focus on a main concept in the center. With regards to search semantics, there is an overlying concept behind the words the person chose in their query as there is additional words that were apart of their thought process leading up to their query. How can a search engine provide a single universal results page in hopes of providing the user with the results they were looking for? The answer is that they simply cannot.
Enter the world of personalized search. An early pioneer of this would have to be ASK Jeeves now ASK. ASK has always tried to give the user a better search experience by trying to estimate what the users are looking for. When you conduct a query ASK uses it's community-based data to predict what a user is looking for by offering you options to narrow your search or expand your search with related phrases (remember semantic mapping?). The team at ASK are a step ahead in this respect. Their search technology works to provide the most relevant results for their users. Plain and simple, they want to provide the best results no matter how the user arrived at their final query. Trying to provide the most relevant result by anticipating what the user is looking for is a great step in improving the personalized search experience for users.
Next week, I'll discuss more about the personalization of the search experience and how the landscape of Search Engines Results Page may change.
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