When people talk about the future of search, they often include factors such as mobile, social, real-time, and other buzz-type words. But it is not very often that they offer an explanation as to how these elements will impact search moving forward. However, in this interview with WebProNews, search veteran Bruce Clay tells that side of the story.
In the early days, Clay says SEO was easy. He goes on to say that it was somewhat defined even 5 years ago, but social, mobile, and local are not defined at all. Now, SEO is more difficult and targeted and will get even harder over time. He calls the top 3 search results the new first page.
“You can’t be good at SEO, you have to be great,” says Clay.
In the next 18 months, he believes the hottest topics in SEO circles will be local, social media, conversions, and somewhat surprisingly, only some discussion about mobile. The reason for this lack of mobile discussion is because people do not like the mobile browser.
Clay thinks the mobile device will become an operating system with the ability to connect apps directly to the Web, which would eliminate the need for a browser. Although he believes a “find” app will be dominant over a search app, he doesn’t believe that mobile will replace search.
In regards to Google’s recent MayDay update, Clay says he saw nothing but good results for sites that optimized for the long tail. While sites that had casual long tail results lost some traffic, he pointed out that it didn’t impact their conversions.
Google Caffeine is another update that has been receiving a lot of attention of late and Clay had a lot to share about it as well. Last year, Google said that it was rolling Caffeine out to one data center and would slowly roll it out to the others. After having a conversation with Google’s Matt Cutts, Clay believes Caffeine is completely rolled out now but just not in 100 percent of the queries.
He goes on to say that advantages of Caffeine are the near real-time page index updates and increased spam filters. In addition, he says there are several behind-the-scenes factors that make it even more interesting. Although Google has not officially announced it, users can now buy Unicode characters in urls and the search engine supports it.
He also brings up a point about how Google recently said that it has 200 variables in the algorithm. As a result, search results were slower and behavioral search was penalized. Moving forward, Clay believes that multiple disjointed queries will determine search results but says it can’t be done without a faster index.
One of the big details that Google has emphasized about Caffeine is its faster index. According to Clay, if behavioral search works, PPC ads will be better and more targeted, which means that ROI will increase. As the ROI increases, the bid will also increase, which would ultimately generate more revenue for Google. All that said, the searchers would win as well since they would be getting better results.
Clay has given us a lot to think about. How do you feel about his projections?