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The Future of Organic SEO

by David Williams - January 14, 2009


There are those in the SEO industry that would say, "Organic SEO and Ranking are Doomed." I would argue that just the opposite is true and I would state my case by saying this, "The truth is Organic SEO will require better Planning and Deployment to achieve Improved Ranking in the major Search Engines."


I would hasten to add that Personal Search - Behavioral Studies via Search History and other "Hot Topics" today - these shouldn't be "NEW - NEWS" to anyone who has been surfing & search for any amount of time. While there are many mixed (and sometimes confusing) messages traversing the web as a response to both; changes in search engine algorithms & structures as well as changes in the way people search alike. This isn't so much headline material in 2009; as it is, perhaps, a good opportunity for all of us to re-examine the path we have been on right along for the last few years.


Let's examine some changes in Google and other search engines in the last 3 years


This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of changes - merely a brief timeline of events to help web site owners, web designers & developers and Organic SEOs see the bigger picture and make the necessary adjustments for the future of web design and Organic SEO efforts.


Personal Search, Behavioral Search and Intent Based Search


June 2005 - Google gets Personal


Google launches "Web History" allowing users to personalize their Google search experience in a platform that monitors what people select from search results. The intent is to shape future queries based on their past choices. This next generation of personal search was unveiled after My Search History was launched in April of 2005. Users have to log in to Google to see their search history.


February 2007 - Google Takes Personal Search to New Heights


Google intensifies its personal search capabilities in an effort to improve user experience and perhaps collect more search query history data. As "Googlers" sign up for Google's growing list of services they will have to read the fine print carefully if they do not wish to be an unwilling participant in having their search history data stored. When signing up for a Google Service the radio button option to enable search history is checked by default. This will be a matter of great concern to those who fear for their privacy on the internet. And their concerns are justified given the AOL search history leak of 2006.


If you signed up for a service, and missed the radio button, you will likely notice the following at the top of your search engine results page.



Don't panic, keep in mind, you can login and disable search history any time you'd like.


May 2007 - Google Unveils Universal Search


Google launched the most revolutionary update to its search engine results pages ever, introducing a new "Universal Search" platform that will mix listings from its news, video, images, local maps and book indexes along with the traditional web pages in its index.


Udi Manber - "Google has continued to concentrate on improving the quality of search," said Udi Manber, vice president of engineering at Google. "The level and speed of search innovation at Google has increased. Most of this innovation addresses basic ranking algorithms and is often not obvious to users. Users just see more accurate results, more often, in more languages, which is our primary goal."


September 2007 - Google demystifies the Intent of Search History


In an article dated 09/24/07 titled Search privacy and Personalized Search by Jane Horvath on Google's blog Google had this to say about their intentions in data collection.


"If you watched the first privacy video, you learned about some of the information we collect (IP addresses, cookies, and search queries) and how we use this information to improve your search experience as well as prevent against fraud and other abuses. "

It would seem that Google is trying to help people understand their use of collected data and to reassure "Googlers" that their privacy is still of utmost concern. Remember, whether you choose to participate or not; one of Google's founding principles is, "Do No Evil."


May 2008 - Google Unveils Geographic Search


Google opened outside access to its Geo Search API (application programming interface), allowing third party websites that used Google Maps in their web pages to be able to find geographic features that are in Google's database. These features were previously visible only through Google's own "Google Maps" site.


Basically, a site that used Google Maps to highlight it's own location will now display other points of interest on the same map such as; other businesses, lodging, parks and recreation, etc.


August 2008 - Microsoft seeks to identify Searcher Behavior and Intent


Microsoft announces ideas to improve Live Search at the Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose, CA (August 10-14, 2008). Microsoft hopes that focusing on user behavior and search intent will help Live Search deliver more personalized results in their search results.


By learning what a specific user's search behavior and intent is over a period of time; Live Search would be able to tune its results to better serve that specific user's personal needs.


This would explain Microsoft's acquisition of PowerSet ( a "natural language" search company) in July of 2008. Understanding a searcher's intent by analyzing their search queries Microsoft hopes to personalize that searchers experience in their SERPs. Obviously, the goal is to enrich the user experience and gain a competitive edge over Google - who leads the industry in searches.


November 2008 - Google adds Promote and Remove Buttons to Organic Listings

Google is experimenting with new features in your search engine results. They have added "Promote" and "Remove" buttons to their SERPs that will allow searchers the opportunity to:

increase the rank of a site using Google's Promote button,

remove a site using Google's Remove button

and even a link near the bottom of the page where you can suggest a preferred site that will appear in your future searches with this symbol

According to Google Labs, this feature may not even last - hence the word experiment.


Users can return to original (unedited) results any time they choose. Additionally, users will have to login to their individual accounts for the changes to be visible in the SE results using the same keywords.


You can read the details and learn more here; Google's Promote and Remove Button Experiment


January 2009 - What does it mean for the Future of Organic SEO?


It means that website owners, web site designers, copy writers and Organic SEO professionals with have to be on top of their game. Again, this is not "NEW" news. Even a reader with little or no knowledge of Design and Organic SEO can read the snippets above and understand that search engines and searchers alike are ever-changing. And to keep up with those changes is an ongoing effort for everyone involved.


Web Design and Organic (Natural) SEO professionals should always:



Be on top of their game


Be aware of changes in Search Engines


Be aware of changes in Search Behaviors


Be Strategically Adaptable to meet these changes


Be Eager and Able to Re-Write Your Design & SEO Play Book mid-game


Here are some tips to help you Succeed in 2009


Facts: Individual searchers will see different search engine results for the same keyword and/or longtail keywords based on their prior search queries and pattern of search behaviors. Using that search history, search engines will modify search results showing partiality (favoritism) toward your perceived intent.


Additionally, search engines will use your IP address to gain insight into your perceived market and adjust your personal results accordingly - especially for shoppers (versus researchers). An example might be searching for "used cars" without a geographic identifier. A user in Dallas will likely see different results than a user in Buffalo via geo-targeting.


Tips: Whether you are a website owner, a designer, copy writer or SEO;



Create the best possible pages for your visitors 1st and then for the search engines.


Visitor Centered Content will decrease your Bounce Rate and Increase Return Visitors and Conversions. If you don't earn the 'head nod effect' what's the point in having the page?


Likable content is Linkable content - establish yourself as both reliable and reputable to gain inbound links.


Be Universally available - Deploy tuned media (Video, audio, etc.) elements to engage both your visitors and the search engines alike.


Be Fresh to Enmesh - Stagnant pages are the bane of of a websites existence. Keep your pages and content up to date to capture visitors attention and earn their trust.


Be Locally available - If you haven't already established yourself in search engine local searches (like Google Maps) Do It Now.


Use the "Metric" System - Use available web metrics to analyze your success and areas that need improvement. Watch Traffic and Page Loads, look at time on site and Bounce Rates, follow visitors paths to see if visitors are following the sales funnel you created in your link architecture.


The bottom line is that Google, and the other major search engines, are always trying to improve their users' experience by returning the best possible results for their searchers. Do everything in your power to be the best site in your searchers eyes and you will reap the benefits of all of your hard work.


All the best,
Dave Williams


Be sure to check out previous issues of SmallBizNews for other Internet Marketing ideas as well. We invite your ideas, comments and suggestions.




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