Just as users’ habits and content change rapidly and continuously on the Internet, all measures in the SEO field have to be reviewed and adapted thoroughly in the future.

Admittedly, the classical concept of SEO and its relevance have already moved mainstream in the minds of marketing professionals. And that’s how it has to be, as whoever operates a website has to know how to make a site easily detectable in the net space out there in order to remain successful.

This includes on- and off-page optimization, which means the structured and with regards to content, optimized Web design, as well as the clever placement and linking of the own Website to other platforms.

The problem is that those measures are well known and are now being used by almost everybody. Thus, it is increasingly more difficult to distance yourself from competitors and the only chance that’s left is specialization.

Search engines are getting personal

The ability to retrieve personalized information from the Internet is offered by the still relatively new Google tool "SearchWiki" (see article SearchWiki: Google’s Personalized Search). Searching the Internet for certain products or services will provide in the future, user-tailored offers at request. The idea here is a customized presentation of results.

SearchWiki remembers the preferences of the user and combines this knowledge with the results of the discovered relevant information offers. All hits in their sequence can be moved, deleted, added or commented on. This service is currently only retrievable on the English page at google.com and is still in the testing phase. But it is probably only a matter of time before this new Google invention blazes a trail totally. Since Google is memorizing the preferences of the searcher, with any new query more individualized results can be displayed. For example, with the search term "car", if the user clicks increasingly on offerings of car dealers with luxury models in his direct surrounding, he will receive during his next search, a large selection of appropriate luxury car dealers.

But it does not always have to be Google. Who is looking for information on a very specific topic in the network will appreciate and use specialty search engines. When it comes to the online search of individuals, Yahoo! People Search is for instance a good address. New professional challenges can be found at monster.com, quick help on Internet law provides linksandlaw.com, videos can be found on trueveo.com, specific blogs on technorati.com, and pictures on picsearch.com. Or are you perhaps looking for a hotel for you next business trip? Then trustyou.com is for sure an excellent web address that can help you find a suitable hotel that considers all your designated criteria. Even very complex queries in complete sentences are no longer a problem thanks to semantically oriented search engines, as powerset.com demonstrates.

Search engines and their results are becoming more personal and individual. The consequence is a higher probability that niche offerings will slip higher in ranking in the future. This requires of course an adequate care of own keywords as well as a well-designed website. But if these criteria are fulfilled, larger providers will get the short end of the stick. Each searcher is able to create its individualized and self-rated ranking. The long tail of the Internet is gaining the upper hand here.
Big Websites and suppliers with a comprehensive range of goods or services must be careful in conducting an even more dedicated page optimization in the future. Smaller offers get the chance to draw attention to themselves and gain a higher significance with the user. The first new challenge for search engine optimization means individualization.

Ranking is losing importance

Everyone knows that the higher a website ranking in a search engine, the sooner they are found, and the more enormous its popularity. This requires a coordinated insertion of keywords, as well as the aforementioned classic SEO measures. But in the future it is no longer really important, whether a website is on rank 7 or positioned on place 108, as the personalized search arranges for a contamination of the rankings. Furthermore, it is less interesting how often a page is clicked due to its rating, but rather what has effectively been achieved with it. Therefore, companies will increasingly focus on a high conversion rate, because a strong lead generation does not necessarily lead to sales activities yet. This means that it is no longer sufficient to present a website in a top ranking as high as possible. Instead particular attention has to be paid to the very own offer that has to be presented both in the results list, as well as on the own website in a sales-oriented way. So, the second new challenge for search engine optimization is sales.

Search goes mobile and local

The rise of interest in the mobile Internet in the coming year will have for sure an impact on search engine optimization as well, as the users of mobile devices push for being able to retrieve general information about the weather, news, or sports on the go. Even shopping by mobile phone will no longer be a rarity and the providers have already noticed that the demand for products and services increases via the mobile year after year. Therefore many Website operators have already optimized their online store for display on mobile devices. Mail order companies for instance start to promote their products with a kind of smallest catalogue in the world for mobile shopping services. The mobile phone display replaces train, bus or concert tickets and in selected supermarkets, customers can purchase goods with their mobile phones by simply scanning the barcode in and paying for it (see article Asian e-marketing issue – mobile marketing). This means for search engine optimization in particular far-sightedness, as mobile users are already starting to look for and filter out the best offers especially in their immediate surroundings by making use of their mobile browsers. Still, a lot of Websites are not yet geared to mobile search, thus offers have to get either redesigned for the mobile display, or a technology is used that translates the website content to mobile.

In general, the user isn’t keen on passing on too many clicks to get results. He wants to see the best offer displayed in a clearly arranged, compact and fast manner. So businesses will have to rethink their online presence and adapt it to the individual requirements of the potential customer. Thus, the third challenge for search engine optimization is mobility.

Anything new, old and the miracle of optimization

All in all, marketing professionals and online experts should continue to provide conservatively maintained content. Because the more meticulous the presentation of the website is maintained, the higher the probability that it stays permanently in a high ranking, that offers are found rapidly and that it weathers the pace of technological change permanently. Individualization, mobility and sales are not magic words. However, these terms should now start finding their way more often into the everyday language of a search engine optimizer.

By Daniela La Marca