2010 Online Predictions – Part 1: Search Engines

Google GovernmentI love looking forward to the upcoming year, and trying to guess what this New Year may bring. For this reason I have decided to write a few “fun” posts on 2010 predictions in two areas: search engines, and social media.

Already there have been strong and well-researched predictions from industry leaders like Rand Fishkin. You’ll notice though, that I may have some differing opinions, which is proof that it is hard to guess what will happen.

Now I can’t say that these will all happen in 2010, but great groundwork will be placed for the end results. I also can’t say that these predictions are entirely the belief of SEO.com as an organization, or the people that work for SEO.com.

I can say that these predictions are well researched, fully speculated and completely FUN. And if you look hard enough between the lines, you might find some gems in preparing for the upcoming year in your online marketing strategy.

THE WORLD OF SEARCH ENGINES

What We Know-

•    Bing is looking to take over Yahoo! Search, making this a 2-search engine world (US Market, or larger?).
•    Mobile search will grow exponentially and may become bigger than desktop search.
•    Google has China in their sites, and Baidu is the target.
•    Personal search tied into real-time search will show Google’s dominance in every aspect of our lives.

What We Suspect-

•    Bing will go big or go home. Meaning either Yahoo people will love or hate Bing. With articles like this, showing that Bing is gaining new traffic, I suspect Bing will go big with Yahoo! users.
•    Players who understand how their market uses the Internet will be providing mobile sites, optimized for (hold your breath) Google Mobile Search.
•    The best way to kill Baidu is to buy Baidu, but can it be done?
•    Big Brother is coming …

How Will it Happen?

Bing’s goal is to bring serious competition to the search-engine table. The only issue is Bing is trying to run the table with money: buyout Yahoo Search and news outlets, run intensive ads on TV. When all is said and done, Bing may spend more trying to buy their way into search than they actually did on developing their engine (slight exaggeration may be implied but $100 million is their rumored TV budget alone).

As stated before, I suspect that with the success Bing is having with new visitors, we’ll see some safe gains in the Bing corner. But I have a hard time believing Bing will provide Google with serious competition. Google has plans of its own.

Those plans include a growing list of future Google products and a growing list of companies it plans to purchase. (Example: Yelp is in Google’s sights, to improve local search options, but Yelp seems to be playing “hard to get.” This is how Google plays the game.)

In addition, Bing isn’t Google’s only concern. China is the largest developing market for Web use, and Google wants to be on top. In order to get there, Google will need to figure out how to handle Baidu. Even though in 2005, Robin Li, CEO of Baidu, refused to comment about rumors that Google was in negotiations to buy Baidu — leaving the world to speculate — Baidu has grown too large, and owns too much of the market to make that remotely possible.

However, Google stands at a crossroads in China. Should it continue on its current strategy, which has worked globally so far, but not with the Chinese, or does Google mold itself to fit the culture like Baidu has? In either case, I don’t think the search algorithm will change for the people of China. Ultimately, finding SEO success in China through Google should happen the same way you find success in the rest of the Google world.

Personalized Search (PS) and Real Time Search (RTS) are starting to bust their way onto the search engine scene. Neither one has struck a chord with the majority of users. I honestly don’t know of anyone out of the SEO/SEM world that has noticed the additions (even as I write this it seems that Google is reconsidering how to implement RTS). For this reason many people are beginning to write RTS off as a failure, and are predicting them to disappear in 2010. But even if Twitter doesn’t improve RTS, the caffeine update from Google proves that RTS is important. And whether we like it or not, I believe Google will place a lot of importance in developing this technology further.

In addition to PS and RTS, I believe you’ll also see more emphasis in mobile search as speculations say it could out-do computer-based search in the years to come. Overall, I believe mobile search will develop to be a major new search engine within itself. Because of the innovations from mobile devices like iPhone, and Google Android, I think you will begin to see a search engine designed specifically for mobile websites (sites that have been redone for easy viewing on those devices). The main factor that will propel mobile search as a big market is an increase in local/localized search as well (acquiring Yelp is starting to make more sense here) so that people can quickly find the store, the product, or the services they need while out and about in their daily lives.

TIME TO PANDER TO YOUR FEARS

Consider all the information we are willingly giving to Google: our email, all of our contacts, our calendar, health information, financial information and anything else found on Google Docs. Not only is this information handed to Google, but Google collects huge amount of data on our habits (that is why it is called Personalized Search). And not just what we do on Google, but what we do on websites we visit before and after using Google. Ultimately, Google is given a lot of power. Some say too much power. With all of this information being collected and analyzed, Google will begin laying the ground work for the most secretive, powerful, and threatening product ever conceived by Eric Schmidt himself. Some call it “Big Brother,” but its official title will be “Google Government …”

This post was fun. Look for my predictions tomorrow on social media, where we’ll discuss the future of the biggest social media platform Facebook, and its plans with Twitter.

All of these predictions came with much help and discussion with my friends here at SEO.com. A big thanks to Dan Bischoff, Nelson James, Ash Buckles, Tamra Hamblin, and as always Mike Benson.

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