Having been an SEO for almost 10 years I have seen a lot of changes in this industry. Most notably the Panda and Penguin updates to Google’s search algorithm which were both game changers. Both for the better in my opinion. Yes there have been more updates but this post isn’t intended to serve as a chronological list but rather a general sense of change.
The History: What Search Engines Were
When the internet exploded in the early 90’s websites were set up a lot differently than they are today. Many didn’t have standard navigation making it difficult to browse a site. A lot of sites only had a hit counter as a way of determine their success.
Search engines operated in a similar manner to how they do today although, now they have evolved quite a bit to where the results are near perfect, depending on the intent. Previous search engines and optimization methods often returned results that had little to do with the query. Culprits here were poor optimization techniques that took advantage of search engines which eventually forced them to progress.
Examples of this are link farms & wheels, text that matched the background color of the website and stuffing the meta keywords tag.
The Present: Where Search Engines are now
In their current state search engines, or Google, provide instantaneous results that make predictions while you’re typing (Google Instant), answer you as you’re asking a question and link to other results
How old is Keanu Reeves as predicted when typing into Google. This is called Google Instant, a product of semantic search.
They can also do calculations directly from the search bar:
Looking for a mortgage calculator? They have that too:
And yes, all of these results are available on mobile devices as well.
Where Search Engines are now: The Mobile Push
Before the mobilegeddon update that occurred April 12th earlier this year, Google had long been touting their mobile-first war cry. This was aimed to get businesses to focus on making their content deliverable on mobile devices.
Since searches behavior is now carried out across multiple devise, and mobile searches have surpassed desktop searches, it was time for another change.
SEO requires more work than in did when I first started and I need to reiteritate that this is a good thing. This puts the focus on quality and eliminates, or attempts to greatly reduce, a lot of the garbage out there.
Like a broken escalator, it requires more effort, but it still works!
The Future: How Will Search Engines Evolve?
Purely speculative at this point but I image that a lot more public spaces will have free or available Wi-Fi. This will mean that even more devise, wearables and whatnot, will be connected to the internet. With more connected devices there is more potential for advertising and marketing.
Search will take on more of a predictive role rather than its current iteration where it waits for a command (query)
Search will most likely be based on a series of alerts and reminders we have set up and compared to our search history and proximity to specific retailers. This will be scarily close to AI (artificial intelligence).
It’s hard to say for certain how search will evolve but there will definitely be more factors involved than 200 (but really 10,000).