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Will Google Search Still be Relevant in 5 Years?

2013 April 1
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by Kathy Alice
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GoogleAs a SEO consultant you develop certain filters, some might even say blinders. You look at websites differently than other people. Some aspects of a website you ignore, but others, like the user experience and the content you pay close attention to. A good example of this is site search, the search functionality you find on many sites.

WordPress SEO search page on webenso.comA routine technical SEO recommendation is to noindex any search pages that are crawlable on a site.

If you are not sure what I mean by search pages: go to the search box on this site, webenso.com and type in “wordpress seo” you’ll get a page that looks like the below and has a URL that has a
?s=wordpress+seo query string in it.

Either you don’t want Google to find those URLs or the pages should have the meta robots tag on it set to noindex.

But I’m not here to dive into the details of noindex and technical SEO. My point is that as a SEO you disregard the search pages once addressed and forget about them. This is what I mean by blinders. We SEOs are so focused on Google search, with an occasional journey into Bing search, that we don’t always see the potential that the other search engines have to disrupt the search industry.

For example: You Tube. You Tube is the second largest search engine on the internet. And yes it is also owned by Google but the question of this article is whether Google Search will be relevant in 5 years, not whether Google the company will be. I have no doubt that Google will be a strong player on the internet for many years to come. You Tube has created its own ecosystem, sucking us all in with adorable cat videos.

Then we have the new player on the scheme, Facebook Graph. The jury is still out how much of a force it will be, but someone will get social search right. In the next 5 years.

The number of destination sites with sophisticated search mechanisms are growing. Think booking.com, think Amazon. When you search for printer ink, do you Google it or do you search on Amazon? When Amazon keeps coming up in Google search results for some types of queries, do you change your behavior because it might save time and hassle to just directly search on Amazon? And the key question that keeps Google up at night: Do you trust the Amazon search results more?

The 10 Day RESET Diet Book - available on Amazon

The 10 Day RESET Diet book – available on Amazon

I recently published a Kindle book on healthy weight loss: The 10 Day Reset Diet. , I found that SEO principles apply to publishing a book on Amazon. This shouldn’t have surprised me as it makes sense, but it did. The process is similar to optimizing a page on the web. You want to:

  1. First figure what category your book belongs to.
  2. Assess the competition to see if you have a shot at the top placement for that search term in the Kindle store.
  3. Craft a keyword rich book title (just like the title tag on a web page)
  4. And intelligently pick your keywords and categories.

To my delight my book is currently in the third position for the “healthy weight loss” search in the Amazon Kindle store. Now we will see if that translates to sales – I may have not aimed high enough, but with Amazon (unlike Google) as your sales improves you can move up the category hierarchy and “rank” for more generic searches which have a higher volume.

This is such a simple concept, if people buy your book and add reviews, then your book’s performance will improve as a result. Compare that to the hundreds of signals that Google looks at to determine how to rank your site for a given query. I shouldn’t complain too much though, the complexity of it is how I make my living …

My boyfriend doesn’t search on his iPhone, he asks Siri questions instead. Sometimes he doesn’t like the results, but that doesn’t change his behavior so that he taps out a query. He and Siri have a relationship. And it will get better.

It used to be that Google search was the only game in town. But I see the search space getting increasingly fragmented – more and more – we will rely on trusted destination sites for certain queries. What do you think?

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Kathy Alice

Kathy Alice Brown is a technologist, author, blogger and SEO consultant with a background in web operations and engineering.In her spare time she loves to get outside.
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