The Future of Search and SEO
By Arthur Browning
As the Search Engines have evolved in their methods of determining which websites should appear at the top of the search so have their algorithms.
When links were important we responded with link farms and reciprocal links - anything a spider could read. When incoming one-way links were important, we invented directories and paid links.
When the popularity and rank of links were important we invented keyword-rich maze-libraries that spiders could savor and visitors could almost-find what they needed in an almost-concise format.
When we added social bookmarking and the voting of readers for relevancy we got net-gangs doing gang-voting for their favorites.
Human reviewers may be looking at the results of spider-baited rankings but there are often very large lapses of quality in many top 40 results, especially for conciseness, originality, and quality of the material that is being ranked.
What can the search engines do about these problems? They can try several things: 1) Assay an entire website for conciseness as it relates to various keyword searches - as they already do for the wording in the URL of the web page title. 2) Improve checking the website for original content. 3) Make sure the content is meaningful - not just an original arrangement of keywords. 4) Improve the detection of fraudulent clicks and time spent on internal links of a web page. 5) Use surveillance for gang-type voting and ranking issues. 6) Improve human review - especially for the top 10 and top 40 websites in the search results.
How can these six improvements be accomplished? Only the future will tell us. But I will offer some suggestions for now, and then we can see what really happens in the next year or two.
1) Conciseness - Part of the algorithm and human review should weigh the size of the website as a negative. How many different articles are found? How large are the articles? How many redundant clicks by visitors on various links are tallied? How far apart in the texts are the key words?
2) Originality - This is easier to check than meaningfulness. Spiders can read duplicated and near duplicated characters, phrases, even paragraph structure and lists - and there may be a need for duplication in some texts - especially for analytical and comparative materials.
3) Meaning - This should be looked at as a level of meaning. Is the meaning just a repetition of keywords, a rearrangement, a synonym, a simplistic definition, a basic treatise, or a deep and discerning analysis.
4) Clicks - Improve monitoring and surveillance of clicks, their origins, the associations of their occurrence in time and focus from different visitors. Is the time spent visiting or revisiting a particular page an asset or liability for visitors to a website?
5) Voting - Monitor all voting or ranking by visitors for gang-relatedness.
6) Human Review - Use specialty-trained reviewers to really look over the results of the top 10 and top 40 - especially for Meaning of the website's content.
The World Wide Web search engines process many more entries than your telephone directory - the number of entries is itself a problem for most searches. So, the search engines should allow the visitor to refine their search by offering a number of search parameters.
These parameters (similar to Ebay's advanced search) should include: language, location, level of knowledge needed, size of text article, total size of website, number and percent of positive votes by certified/relatively trustworthy participants, cost/value if product/service, proportion of ads/commerce related material it contains - just for starters.
These advanced search parameters should also include all the things that the Big 3 and other search engines don't think we need to know.
Does decision-making about each of the various parameters sound burdensome or time-consuming? It wouldn't be if your search preferences were remembered by the engine or as prompted by your computer memory. And you could change the parameters as you wish.
The search engines will have to make real change along these guidelines or be relegated to the inept, slow, and/or commercially motivated.
About the Author
Arthur Browning began his career teaching technical writing in a small midwestern university for 15 years. He later edited and published a national professional journal for some ten years. He is now an investor. His interests include art collecting, web marketing, writing.
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