Bill Slawski provides some interesting insight into a Yahoo! patent regarding taxonomies of information for the purpose of answering search queries directly. This begs the question, How would that change SEO? Bill asks the question this way
If you’re a site owner, would it bother you that a search engine might mine your web site to display answers and potentially keep visitors from coming directly to your web site for those answers?
The best search engine optimization people, marketers and webmasters are capable of great flexibility. Whenever a new search engine tactic appears or the search engines change their algorithms in a noticeable way, those webmasters who are observant adapt their content development tactics in response to take advantage of the changes. The result usually is a few webmasters gaining an early advantage with others following and a great Internet-wide conversation coming after. Before you know it, there’s a best practices discussion going on around those changes. What would happen if search engines routinely answered searcher queries directly? Would SEOs and webmasters design their web pages and write their content in such a way that they might gain the advantage in having their site provide that answer? I think so. But how would that play out?
In the Babe Ruth example that Bill Slawski provides, the answer to the search query at both Google and Yahoo! is linked to the web page from which that answer is extracted. But why that specific web page? Bill alludes to a few attributes of a web page that might be selected:
- Source could be “editor” selected, presuming a human bias
- Large traffic volumes
- User trust and confidence in a web page
- Search engine confidence in a web page
Of course, these are just a few examples. The real issue is how would you write your content so that your web page might be selected as a trusted source for answering a search query directly? And, secondly, would you benefit from that?
I think the answer to the second question is clearly you would benefit. You’d have the No. 1 position, the pole position of search results. But would that result be clicked upon by searchers now that they have their answer?
These are all very good questions. I’d like to hear if you have any answers. What is your take on it?