March 7, 2010

Thoughts on SEO Future and how to rank on a realtime web

I got asked on Twitter about what this article from Read Write web would affect search engine optimization in the future. I haven’t written anything on SEO for a while so I thought I might take the opportunity to write a bit more extensively on what I believe to be the most important aspects to take into account for the coming year.

1. ATOM PuSH not really the issue here

The article talks about ATOM PuSH functionality that would help you as a publisher to get your content indexed faster in Google. This will not in itself change the way you rank in the search engine. You still have to have crawlable content, it still needs recommendations through links and it still needs to be well written.

What it really changes is the fetching method. Up until now, Google have been fetching content with regards to relevancy. The article however, says they are to start fetching content based on how new it is. I don’t know if this will effect the search result pages in any significant way, but one could possibly assume that Google will rank popular content, ie. content that is subscribed to by a lot of other people, as something that should rank higher than other content which is not.

2. Change over Time

In the beginning of SEO it was all about volume. Nowadays volume is only one property to which Google evaluates your content. The property I believe will grow in importance the most over the next couple of years is that of change over time. Change over time is the only way at which you can look at a piece of content and determine its relevancy on a real time web. It is the only way of finding spam and it is the only way of determining which content is the most relevant “right now”.

Actually. What we have to look at is the second derivative of motion. Is the sum of something accelerating or is it decelerating.

Think of two pieces of content. One which has a lot of links, and one with lesser links. Think of the one with lesser links getting one link the first day, two links the second day, three links the third day whilst the one with more links is getting one link each day. Let’s say the content with the lesser links was newer than the one with more links. Which would you think was more relevant? The one accelerating with one link per day, or the one receiving one link per day? Tough question right?

Let’s say we add Twitter to this. The publisher of the content has 1500 followers and the content got retweeted 50 times on the day of release. The older content didin’t get retweeted at all as it was produced when there was no Twitter. The relevancy factor or news value of the story then becomes 50/1500 (my own kpi :)). With regards to all other content out there. I am getting sidetracked. But what I am getting at is that I believe Google will look more and more on change over time as it sort of shows how relevant a piece of content is at this place in time.

Thus Google will index a content higher in the serp if it comes from a resource that usually get shared. They will do this over a time period to see if this content also was as good as the old stuff. If it doesn’t receive the same change in time links as other content in the vertical or serp, it will decrease in value over time and fall in the serps. This is somewhat a contradiction to the “authority” paradigm that is being talked about in SEO circles.

In the future, authority will only give you an edge, as it will put you there on the first page to get “tested”. Yet if your content does not pick up speed, it will decrease in value over time. Regardless if your site in volume is much stronger than other websites.

3. Localization

There is a localization revolution going on in the serps right now. Search for “lawyers in washington” and you’ll see what I mean. If you have a physical presence and an address listed in Google, you will have a much better visibility than those who don’t.

Add to that the GEO-tagging possibility in the Meta of your web pages and you’ll be able to have an edge over anyone with a less local touch to their business.

The address helps people find stuff in a certain place, the GEO tag helps them retrieve stuff that is more relevant to them given their geographical presence.

Naturally, localization of the serps have everything to do with Google wanting to become as dominant offline as they have become online. I am looking forward to seeing the results of this. 🙂

4. Socialization

This is a change I don’t necessarily like or enjoy that much. In the future my search results will become dependent upon my interactions with others. This might play well if it plays within a certain time frame, but if they do as they have done with the personalized search I am not that enthusiastic.

I would like Google to look at sequence within a session rather than look at what I have searched for or talked to my friends about “throughout all of time”.

Socialization should be a factor as we do trust stuff from people we know more about than those which we know nothing about. Hence the assumption would be that we would find content more relevant if it came from those we have a relation to. However, I don’t believe that this is entirely the case. It might just be so that our serps will get overhauled with stuff we don’t want to see, just as blog posts have killed information searches to a large extent.

Concluding thoughts

Well, I am unsure if my brain has woken up enough to make any sense, but here you go. These are four of the most important aspects I see becoming more and more relevant when thinking of search engine optimizing your webpages.

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1 Comment
  • James Royal-Lawson, March 7, 2010 Reply

    With regard to Twitter & retweets - something that's bound to be a factor (as it's similar to how Google ranks inbound links) is the authority (and relevance) of those retweeting your content (and not just the number of retweeets).

    Suddenly we get into another set of derivatives - will retweets of other people's content also become a factor in determining your "authority", or just the relevance of the content?

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