Another Search Engine Strategies conference, another conversation about the future of search. It's a regular topic, but one that never loses relevance, as the search landscape continues to change dramatically, even between conferences. Look at all Google has done this year, for example. Not only did we get the left panel navigation, but Instant search. Those are probably the biggest changes to the interface, but there are plenty of other things going on. This week, they just started adding location information to the left panel, for example.
Google makes changes constantly all year round, and that's just Google. Yahoo and Bing obviously have a lot going on as well. Bing has a new partnership with Facebook for putting Facebook data in search results. Then there's the whole Yahoo/Bing search and advertising deal, with Yahoo returning Bing results underneath its own user interface.
Search simply does not stop changing. With mobile and social media heavily in the equation, and TV and tablets about to enter the fray at an increasingly rapid pace, there will continue to be plenty to speculate upon when it comes to where search is headed.
Here are a few takeaways from that discussion:
1. Keyword research may be narrowed down by all three search engines.
2. Autocomplete needs to branch out.
3. There will be deeper analytics.
4. Building content will continue to be very important
5. There will be increased filtering of search results by users.
6. SEO is going the way of a targeted market.
7. Complexity of keywords is changing because of the algorithms
8. SEO is going to be "a piece of optimization pie."
9. There will be increased focus on local.
10. Even as mobile continues to grow, there will always be search.
11. Social will continue to play an important role. Likes will become as important as links.
If you ask me, it's going to be (and really already is) about being visible in as many places as possible - on as many screens as possible. It's about being visible in search engines, but it's also about being visible in communities (social networks, blogs, forums, etc.), sub search engines (like Google Images, Blog Search, Videos, YouTube, etc.), mobile apps, web apps, TV apps, and anywhere else that consumers turn their attention - particularly the kind of attention that comes with problems for which your content has the answer - for which your business has the answer.
The future is going to require a lot of testing.
Testing on different browsers, different phones, different tablets, different connected TV experiences, different apps, and different combinations of each of these. It's also going to be about speed. Not only is Google placing more and more emphasis on this, but people will just simply leave if they can't get your site to load in a timely fashion. It may be fine on the desktop, but have you checked it from different mobile devices/browsers? How's it look from there?
Then you have voice search, which is quickly becoming a much more common method. Google will continue to perfect visual search (Google Goggles as well). Things are going to get really interesting.
The future of search is much like search's present - just on steroids. Faster, more powerful, on a lot more interfaces, and a lot more people using them.
What does the future of search look like to you? Comment here.