In seven years, Internet search has gone from relying on information from more than 26 search engines to information provided mostly by two. What happened?
Search Engine Acquisitions
Well, or one thing, acquisitions. Some of the most famous acquisitions happened suddenly and rather unexpectedly. The most important one of all may have been Yahoo acquiring Inktomi. That acquisition resulted in the Web’s most popular directory actually becoming a search engine. It allowed Yahoo to enter the competitive race for top search engine status. Unfortunately for them, they lost.
Search Engine Algorithms
Other acquisitions were almost as important, but another factor that influenced the way the playing field has winnowed down is the relevance of each search engine’s algorithms. Some of them just couldn’t keep up with Google. Once inbound links became importance, on page elements like meta tags became less important. The search engines that relied mostly, or entirely, on those on page elements found it difficult to duplicate the inbound link algorithm that Google brought to the table. Those search engines lost relevance.
Another thing that happened was paid links. Since links increase in importance, that created a market for paid links. The search engines that could capitalize on the demand for paid links grew because they could make money on that demand – and lots of money. Google and Yahoo managed to succeed there, and MSN to some degree. Search engines that couldn’t compete in the pay-per-click or paid advertising market lost even more relevance.
What’s In Store For The Future Of Search?
This last point has some people speculating that organic listings will lose relevance altogether. I’m not willing to go that far. But I do believe there could be an increase in relevance for paid links in the future. The big question will be how that will affect SEO. In another five years, what will the playing field of search look like? I have an idea. More speculation:
- A new form of search engine will develop that lists only advertisers who have paid for listings; rather than act as a directory, these search engines will crawl the web pages only of those websites whose owners pay to be crawled. Their rank will be determined by the openly disclosed parameters established in that search engine’s algorithms.
- Search will be more social. You may be thinking, “No kidding,” but I’m obligated to say it. It’s already happening. A recent study showed that more than 70% of college-age Web surfers use social networking sites. Social bookmarking is also becoming more popular, primarily because users have more control over the content they find – unlike the experience they have at Google, Yahoo, and MSN.
- I also believe video will play a bigger part in search in the near future, though I’m not quite sure how. But I do believe video will be used more and more by more and more websites. The search engines that adapt to the new uses of multimedia and are able to index them successfully so that searchers will be able to find what they need will win out. Google will likely be a major player in that area if they can get a handle on the YouTube problem. There will also likely be a video search engine arise from out of nowhere that will specialize in that market. It could very well be a social video search engine, incorporating the YouTube idea with the search algorithm concept. It will earn its revenue from pay-per-action type advertising using the video model.
Any feedback on this? I’d be interested in hearing your opinions.