Search 3.0, Search 4.0 & Beyond - Search Engine Land editor-in-chief Danny Sullivan has been covering the search space for 12 years. In this keynote address, he explains how search has recently left behind the Search 1.0 and Search 2.0-eras to reach Search 3.0 today: blended search. He also covers the growth of Search 4.0: personalized and social search, with some further looks at what's to come. Speaker: Danny Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief, Search Engine Land
Hi guys! I'm sitting in the front row at SMX West. I'm wearing a shirt that says "I'm blogging this." Say hello. Please. My BFF already said hello to me several times and now I want to meet you. Thanks!
Danny introduces the conference and tells us there are unique SMX pins for every confernece! Yay, schwag! (If I don't go to an SMX conference, you need to hook me up. Remember that for SMX social media, guys!)
Now we're talking about search like we're supposed to.
Last year search made a huge generational leap and not many people are understanding the scope of it.
Search 1.0: first generation web search. We spider page and look at the location and frequency of search terms on the page to see which terms are most relevant. You might keyword stuff to optimize the page for search 1.0. Search engines were easy to game at that time.
Along came Google. They started utilizing off-the-page factors. Clickthroughs were measured. A major off-the-page factor that was considered was linkage: "democratic nature of the web." (aka PageRank - through PR is how important a link is, independent of content).
You can't really trick search 2.0 or so they thought. But eventually people gamed it - the "miserable failure" George Bush Googlebomb is a clear example. People manipulated the links for their gain.
Where do we go from here? Two key advances Danny expected to happen from talking wth search folks have now happened: Search 3.0: blended results Search 4.0: personalized and social results
Let's talk about blended results. The answer to everything is not a webpage. Search engines will begin to hit specialty databases in the right occasion, pushing the right tab behind the scenes (pictures, buying, news headlines). Invisible tabs was the term Danny used.
What if there are more specialized databases? You can't shove them to the front page. So now we have blended search: Google Universal Search, Ask 3D, Yahoo Answers, Live Search Scope
Blended search is now the generic term to mean vertical results get blended.
Search 3.0 is Danny's term - he wants to wake marketers up. "You know what, forget PageRank. You need to be looking in a lot of these veritcal areas because those areas are growing."
Why is it called vertical search? Vertical search slices downward (news, weather, images, etc.)
Google Universal Search: May 2007. They automatically query databases, book information, blogs, shopping, etc - with more sources to come. The idea is that the relevancy of each vertical's results measured against others, Google says. If this video search result is the third most relevant result, then it gets thrown into the regular SERPs.
If you search for San Jose hotels, you'll see 10 results of hotels. If you search for "diet coke," there may be a news result on the front page. It's an opportunity for you to qualify as a news source if you believe that your web page is a news source. Search for Facebook and find a YouTube video. Search for a product and find Google Products listings. The possibilities for blended search are really endless.
Ask 3D has a 3 pane design. The third pane morphs and combines all vertical stuff in the page - images, news material, etc.
Microsoft Live also integrates some vertical search. Search for Britney Spears and you will see images. She was also #1 in their celebrity search engine.
Over at Yahoo, they have been pushing shortcuts: events, music, movies, etc. Today, they came out with Yahoo Search Monkey - every publisher can blend information of their own into their listings. As a publisher, if you find out something compelling, you can make use of this program so that everyone sees it.
That's the overview - verticals are new and more prominent doorways to search results. Web search is not going away but it will be more of a "backup." Exact metaphors and presentations are still being developed. Vertical has less competition and itself tends to be more "old school" Search 1.0 ranking factors.
Search 4.0 integrates personalization and social search. It reshapes results based on what you personally visit, what others you know do, and what people in aggregate do or visit. Google is pretty much the only engine doing this right now.
Google Personalized Search looks at your web history and gives sites a ranking boost by what you visit. If you visit a site a lot, it will be ranked higher. Some other pages will be pushed down.
One of the key things about it is that it changes the playing field as a search marketing perspective.
Personalization Factors: iGOogle Personalized Home Page content, Google Bookmarks, Search History (clicks), Web history (visits). Google will use these to personalize your search experience.
The beginnings of social search: Eurekster experimented with friend clicks reshaping results in 2004. Yahoo My Web promised to let us tag and use a network to reshape results. Neither of these took off.
Danny wrote an article entitled "The Promise & Retality of Mixing the Social Graph with Search Engines." It's not new. Eurekster said that "swickis" are much better - people choose the sites that should be in a vertical search engine. Yahoo dropped off. People don't really tag on web search. They might use it for delicious but not for search itself.
What about Facebook and the social graph? The social graph is potentially useful. You watch what others are searching on. You monitor clicks in a more "trusted" environmnet and reshape results based on what your friends seem to like.
..but who are your friends?
There are concerns about fake friends and privacy - do you have to filter to "true" friends? Do you then still need to consider what you'll share? Do Facebook and others instead work on an aggregate level?
If you are trying to succeed in 4.0, you might have to put buttons on your website to give in and hope that people use it. People bookmark great content, so write it. Compelling content rewards you.
For other search engines: watch and see. Watch social news sites like Digg and social bookmarking sites like delicious and social networking sites like Facebook.
What about the regular comment: "I don't want to be a social media marketer! Damn kids! It's not SEO!" We cover it because it has power to be out there. Link building was an independent activity ca. 1995. You build links because links got you traffic and you do SEO because SEO got you traffic. When Google started making a lot more out of links, you realize it's a lot more crucial. Likewise, social media is going to stay and you need to know people who can help you.
SMM+SEO = Wonder Twins * It builds links back to your content and brings visibility. * It lets you leverage an authority site which is useful for reputation purposes or to get out faster than a "regular" site can. Your brand new website might need some trust but if you make use of sites like Digg, you can get your content out a lot quicker. * Del.icio.us might influence results - Yahoo is trying this out. It stands out and people are likely going to understand social bookmarking in due time. It's something you need to know. * Google Reader might do the same thing - how many people are subscribed to that RSS feed? * Social media prepares you for more to come.
Search 5.0 - what's next? Danny says he might "start to lose it here." Human editors might be in search 5.0. Search 5.0 is search 1.0. Mahalo sometimes feels cluttered but it's nice to see the attempt. Wikia remains to be seen. These are both brand new and are things to watch.
When there were fires in Southern California, Mahalo was really on top of it versus other search engines. The downside is that it's overwhelming for human editors.
Hakia is another search engine that uses categorization based on headlines and not by human editors. You may not need editors in the future - but the overwhelming factor might remain.
Danny said he wanted to do another keynote to discuss some recent developments (but he has no other keynote, so he's talking about them here):
Microhoo: no one knows what will happen or what each company should do. Danny sees this from a search perspective, but others see it from a software perspective, and so on. "Scale" argument hasn't convinced him. "Employees" argument hasn't convinced him either. Traffic remains the most compelling argument and indeed it might be the best way for Microsoft to move ahead. Personally, Danny says that he's liked the three big different players and hipes that a Yahoo brand does make it.
Video cometh: "Video killed the search star?" Search is kind of boring in a lot of ways. You do a lot of hard work and make pennies on the dollar that you're spending. Money is expected in cool video. But pushing video ads isn;t necessarily search. AdSense isn't search nor is it with video. Video for AdWords does look to be search related, though, and perhaps it will bring new money into paid search campaigns giving them an easier-to-understand coolness factor.
Recession Worries: Will it hurt search? Nobody really knows. Search thrived during a recession (dot com crash). Buying may dip, but it's not going to stop. Search may be more essential than other types of ads. Danny's wish list - Google and others sphould break out actual search from other types of ads. Danny's article on this: "Search Stocks & is Search Recession Proof?"
Search marketing reputation issues: "Many business owners have been fooled by the allure of search engine optimization -- and I'm one of them [but it doesn't work for me]" ~media "I actually despise being labeled as an SEO" ~shoemoney AMEX has words of warning - "don't waste money on so-called SEO specialists" - American Express's Open Guide, January 2008. Danny wrote an article about this recently - "A Bad Month for the SEO Reputation" Can reputation improve? In the past, we've been called as bad or worse. Each time, some see reputation issues as a crisis or problem that must be solved. Yet SEO continues to crow and be in demand. It sucks, it isn't fair, but maybe some standards can help ease the emotional burden. Seeking solutions: * the biggest issue isn't white hat/black hat, but ripoff artists that both hat colors dislike. * Centralized complaints area; agree to be listed, good or bad, with right to respond? * Better PR for SEO, more case studies on how it helps? * Is it time for Search Marketing Standards? - I, Tamar, will be covering this panel later today.
Oh, and Craig Newmark likes us.