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One of the things I absolutely love about digital marketing is the ever-changing face of things. Being kept on my toes and having to do a complete 180 at least once a month is a challenge I enjoy and thrive on.

One area which has piqued my interest recently is how technology is progressing at a rate that is going to completely annihilate everything we think we know about search over the next few years. We’re going to be fed into a new world of search with tech loaded clothing, tablets and Google following us everywhere we go! Continue Reading

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Britain’s last minute change, what you need to know and the Beeb’s ideal solution

Whether you’re a casual blogger, an online retailer or an SEO expert you won’t have failed to notice the sudden appearance of cookie related messages across many of the UK’s biggest websites. But what do they mean, what do you have to worry about and where do you even start? That’s what this post is all about – the cookie law. So let’s get on with it. Continue Reading

Rankings Comic

Many SEO companies out there will promise you the earth: number 1 spot on Google, top 10 rankings for all your keywords and enough resulting wealth to buy your own earth. But they’re missing the point – Google rankings aren’t everything. Why? Because Google only care about providing the most relevant search results for users.

Let’s say you’re a pizza restaurant ranking number 1 for pizza. That’s great – the company you’ve paid have done their job. But it doesn’t really matter – even if you’re getting hundreds more visits because of that ranking – because if most of those users clicking onto your site are actually looking for pizza takeaway, then all you’ll have achieved is a high bounce rate.

So what should you be looking for when making SEO relevant? Continue Reading

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Just in case you blinked and missed something, watch out for Google switching it up again!

Its an exciting time in search as you are never 100% sure how the search results will be presented and what new surprises might be in there.

The introduction of the Knowledge Graph is an extension of Google’s efforts to provide the best search experience and pre-empt the result you want.

Yup, its mind reading spookiness! Well not quite but it could seem like that when you start getting answers to questions you didn’t even ask yet. Continue Reading

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Google have always rolled out regular algorithm updates from tiny little ones you’d never notice to big meaty ones that shake things up big time. In recent months the pace of change and rate of updates has been a game changer with updates so varied and frequent they seem to be tripping over each other at times. But what does this actually mean in real terms? Continue Reading

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We have talked about Rich Snippets on the Strategy blog once before – but what we didn’t tell you is how to do it. Schema.org is the answer to that question.

Currently, there are many ways of creating websites and implementing your content within them. But not all of the current ways are easily read by the search engines. This is where schema comes in. Schema tags are all about helping users find the right websites. And if your site has these schema tags, it makes it easier for the search engines to know why yours is that right website. Continue Reading

First Computer Mouse

Contrary to some people’s belief that we would all be controlling computers purely with our minds by 2012, the way we interact with our computers has not changed all that much since the inception of the mouse. Online we click away, sometimes thousands of times a day, to the point that it becomes second nature. In fact, buttons have become an integral part of how we interact online. Continue Reading

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Rich snippets attribute extra information to a search result to provide the searcher with a further insight into what the link may contain.

This could be information about the track listing on an album, for instance, or the star rating of your favourite restaurant. The good news, and there only really is good news, is that they give the searcher a more informed choice before they have clicked a link. Continue Reading

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Around the middle of Janurary, Google rolled out “Search Plus Your World” (hereon called SPYW), which means that logged-in users will get their organic search results augmented with socially shared content and markup, ostensibly from Google+. Danny Sullivan already wrote up two pieces about that (“Google’s Results Get More Personal”:http://searchengineland.com/googles-results-get-more-personal-with-search-plus-your-world-107285 & “Real-Life Examples of How Search Plus Pushes Google+ Over Relevancy”:http://searchengineland.com/examples-google-search-plus-drive-facebook-twitter-crazy-107554), which cover the changes brilliantly, so I suggest reading those, before carrying on. Continue Reading

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“My, but we’ve come a long way”, we’ll say on the day when Google’s list of links finally disappears. And that day will come sooner than many think.

Over the past eight or so years that I’ve been working in the search industry, I’ve seen a lot of changes. Google News & Froogle (what was to become the Shopping search interface) had only recently launched, Google’s entire index was less than 6 billion pages, there was no Gmail, no mobile search, YouTube, Facebook, Bing was MSN Search and powered by Looksmart & Inktomi, Yahoo! was powered by Google’s technology…

More interesting though has been the lack of innovation in result UI. Oh sure, we’ve got much richer results now than we’ve ever had before, and the underlying technology is far in advance of what it was then, but in terms of how we actually deliver results, I’m not so sure.

A Future Interface

Let me clarify. Based on some recent comments by people at both Google and Microsoft, with regards to answering search queries, the interfaces of the future clearly aren’t going to look like they are now. Instead, they’re going to focus far more on actually answering the users question. We’ve seen the start of this with Google’s recipe search, and Bing’s travel search products.

However, these are just the beginnings of a greater shift in how we interact with the great database that is the Internet. For a more complete understanding, we rather strangly, have to turn to the world of TV game shows.

Search? It’s Elementary My Dear Watson

Earlier this year, Watson, a supercomputer built by IBM, trounced the two greatest human Jeopardy! players at their own game. Much like a modern web search engine, Watson runs thousands of algorithms symulatniously to actually calculate the correct answer to a question. Now, this is fine for where there is an actual answer (questions like ‘what is the’, ‘in what year did’, ‘where can you’ etc), but for ones where a user decision is required, we need to look beyond this.

At this point, we get in to the idea of a twin-structured search engine. In the first part, it’d simply attempt to answer a question presented to it. We can already see this done, if you ask an engine what the time is in a certain place, what a cinema is showing today, or if you want an answer to a calculation. It’s simply an extension (albeit a huge one) of technology that’s already in place.

In this particular area, SEO as we know it will die. Google will simply parse the question and deliver the answer. No links involved.

The second area though, where the user needs to decide based on information, is quite different. This is where the semantic web truly comes in to its own.

Second Site

The semantic web is a fairly old idea, the crux of which is that one day, all the data on the web will be understandable by machines. To kick-start this, Google, Bing and Yahoo! recently announced the launch of schema.org, a protocol similar to XML sitemaps (but with far broader scope) in that it aims to get the entire web marked up in a way that will facilitate this.

In this new web, a search engine would be able to grab any piece of data from any website, understand it, and then use it to produce better answers for the user. So if I were to type in ‘best small family car’, my results page would show me various small family cars, ratings by various associations, new & used prices, ancilliary information (videos, image galleries etc), and links to places to go to buy one.

This offers an exciting possibility for consumers – instant, well presented information on any topic, with the option to go out and view the original source information, with greater expansion on the subject if required. Think of it like an uber-Wikipedia. For a live example of something like this working, take a look at this results page for ‘yoga poses’ in Bing.

Welcome to the Jungle

Now, for the record, I don’t know what Microsoft or Google’s intentions are. But it’s increasingly clear that if they wanted, this is a direction that they could move in. With their increasingly titanic data stores, they’re in an amazing position to completely transform how we interact with the world’s information. For now though, webmasters need to consider three things:

  • Marking up your data probably won’t help your rankings in any particular area at the moment
  • Not marking up your data almost certainly will stop you ranking in different forms of search interface in the future
  • The websites that act now will, as always, be better placed when change comes along

So do you need to worry about getting your data marked up today? No, but have it in the back of your mind, and make sure you do it sooner rather than later.

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