Are Search Engines Losing The Plot – And Killing Off SEO

Love it or hate it, honest SEO has always tried to achieve one aim, get to the top of a search engine for a particular keyword. Whether they like to admit it or not, search engines gained from the diligent work of SEO professionals. In fact, searchers gained as well since they could quickly find the information they were after.

It seems with the multi algorithms, the smart technology and host of different approaches to search, users are becoming more frustrated by the lack of results, rather than the improvement in results.

The frustration arises when the search engine tries to second guess you and delivers results based on what it thinks you are looking for. You could type into your search box – red widget with blue stripes – the results show red widgets at number one; striped widgets at number two; a widget video at number three; and so on. Finally on page four you find an entry for red widgets with blue stripes, and wonder why it didn’t show up at number one.

What is even stranger is that if you had typed that search phrase with inverted commas, the entry would have appeared at number one. That increases the mystery – if I enter a phrase then that is what I am looking – why do the search results go astray. It’s a question that needs answering by the search engines.

As we move forward into 2009, there are changes appearing in the search results. You may have noticed Google’s SearchWiki. It’s a nice idea and it’s here to stay. However, from the many conversations I have had with users, most don’t see the point. As one person pointed out to me:

“I enter a search, there are the results. I click on one of the entries and arrive on that page. From there I continue surfing. I am not going to bother going back to the search results to vote up or down any of the results.”

I have to agree. How can I ‘promote’, ‘remove’ or ‘comment’ if I haven’t yet visited the site. To do so would mean hitting the back button which I am sure the site owner would appreciate? Nice idea from Google, perhaps a little before it’s time. Having said that, rumour suggests Google may use the data produced in these searches as part of it’s ranking algorithms. It seems a little unreliable to me.

SEO will get tougher in 2009 – not because of the competition. It will be because search engines need working on if we are to produce results for our keywords. They are changing all the time, almost daily, so our SEO work needs to progress at the same rate. Chances are, search engines will make themselves irrelevant, particularly if social media continues to improve. Until then, we have to try and second guess them so that our pages can remain as close to the top of the SERPs as possible.

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