The Future of SEO: Not Provided

The Future of SEO is Not Provided

So, let’s see if I have mapped out this ecosystem correctly.

1. People come to Google.com to do searches, because they perceive that Google’s search results are the best.

2. SEM marketers bid on impressions of certain words and phrases relating to their product, and the winners’ ads show up at the top of the page before the natural (unpaid) results. Some more paid ads appear on the right-hand side of the page.

3. Part of each paid ad’s success in the auction for impressions has to do with how well the content on the landing page for the ad’s link corresponds to the terms the person was searching for.

4. The unbiased “natural” search results appearing after the paid ads also have a kind of competition going on behind them. A search algorithm has to decide which order to present them in, and does so based on a large number of factors.

5. Firms in the SEO space have built a business out of using an understanding of natural search result ranking algorithms to help redesign sites to be as discoverable as possible through natural search.

SEO is based, in large measure, on data about who arrives on which pages after searching for various terms – this group could be analyzed, segmented and treated differently based on what they expressed an interest in via search. Remove the information about which terms an individual is searching for, and you are now stuck analyzing natural traffic as a giant undifferentiated blob of traffic.

Google just rendered this data invisible for natural search clicks. Who does that benefit?

1. Google likes SEM, because that is where their paychecks come from.

2. SEM and SEO are interrelated. If your site is employing good SEO practices, your SEM is more efficient. That means you make more money and probably allocate more over time to SEM. This is good for Google, but in an indirect way.

3. SEO is harder without granular keyword data that can be used to tailor site content to user needs (or advertiser goals). This is not good for SEO providers.

4. If sites in general begin to be less searchable as a result of Google’s cessation of critical SEO data, then users’ experience of search could possibly decline. I guess that depends on whether you believe the activities are, taken in the aggregate, improving search results or degrading them. SEO improves the search experience to the extent that it tries to discern the searcher’s intent and deliver what they are looking for. SEO degrades the search experience if it is trying to trick a user into visiting a page that is not what they are searching for.
– Apparently Google either believes:
a. SEO hurts the experience more than it improves it, or
b. Some degradation in the user experience is OK in the service of making more money while being able to claim a privacy/security benefit.

In any case, the deed is done.
Perhaps the folks at Google is looking to take the business of SEO for themselves? I mean no one knows the rules better than the people who make up the rules, right?

Get Adobe Flash player