Everyone wants their website to be towards the top of those ten blue links listed when a searcher types in their query string and then the search engines return their magical list of links. It use to be that those 10 links were all to websites. Over the years, we've seen all of the major search engines change their algorithms and adapt to the changes in technology as well as the creation of new types of content.
Google's been changing the playing field. Perhaps, the better analogy is that Google is actually defining the game, they are setting the rules, they are deciding which teams play in the league, how points are scored and who gets sent to the penalty box or ejected from the game. Although everyone would like to say Google did this overnight, with the release of a simple press release announcing Universal Search, I'd counter that Google's been working up to this for quite a long time now.
Now, don't be sending me death threats, honestly - that's not cool. Folks, those 10 blue links that we use to strive to be one of, are changing, morphing and to some degree disappearing.
Sure right now, Yahoo and MSN might still have them, but I'm betting within a year's time you'll see those two engines striving to deliver relevant content.
Think back to when Google started to incorporate "one boxes". At first we just saw one boxes for products in Froogle (now Google Product Search). Then maps started to appear, then movie listings, sitelinks and so forth. For the past 2 years, it's hardly ever been just 10 blue links when it comes to Google.
Now look at Google's mantra - and I don't mean "don't be evil." I'm speaking about "organizing the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful". If you think the world's information is strictly websites and pages, you need to step out of 1999, rub your eyes a little and then type in www.youtube.com, www.digg.com, www.stumbleupon.com, www.topix.com and then when you get through with all of those, head over to www.funnyordie.com.
A lot of the world's information is not text on a screen. Content is just not limited to H1 tags, page title tags, anchor text in links. Content can be trailers for movies, podcasts, pictures, how to videos, logs of instant messages (think Twitter). Dictionary.com defines content as (emphasis is mine): "something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing, or any of various arts". No where is it defined that content is strictly limited to characters on a web page.
Remember the rallying cry of most SEO's? "Content is king!" It couldn't be more true, Universal Search put even more emphasis on it. Some in our industry have tunnel vision, I'd reckon to wager, those are the folks who sent Mike Grehan those death threats. If you have tunnel vision and see SEO as merely optimizing web pages, I'd like to recommend you check out monster.com for a new profession.
SEO = Search Engine Optimization
SEM = Search Engine Marketing
Does it say anywhere in those three words that SEO or SEM is strictly web page optimization? Title tag optimization? Link optimization? Ad creative optimization?
Lastly, I'd like to leave you with a few thoughts to ponder:
- "Do any of the search engines define that their listings are strictly web pages?"
- "Will Google have to redefine it's definition of PageRank(TM) Technology - since it does specify PageRank(TM) ranks web pages"
- "How soon will it be till Yahoo! and MSN will follow Google's footsteps?"