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2011 Predictions Expanded: RIP Google and SEO

Google and SEO as we know them will cease to exist over the course of 2011. The past year saw some dramatic changes to the way Google operates and presents search results to their users, and those changes have had an equally dramatic effect on the process of search engine optimization (SEO). How can website content be optimized for a search engine that appears to have lost control of its own algorithm?

Facebook Takes the Virtual Cake in 2010

Consider for a moment that Facebook was the most visited site in 2010, and accounted for the top two most searched terms (Facebook and Facebook login respectively). And this has all occurred before the social networking site has even begun to seriously cash in on the “Like.” To regain some ground, Google is going to have to make some radical changes, which will undoubtedly have a tremendous impact on SEO.

Before we’re committed, some clarification: we’re not saying 2012 will begin without Google. Despite all the hype surrounding Facebook, we’d have to be certifiable to predict the flat-out disappearance of the search engine juggernaut. However, something is afoot with Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs); without successful intervention, Google is sure to surrender more ground.

The Search Quality Pendulum Swings Both Ways

The argument for the decline in Google’s search quality is garnering more attention and moving beyond mere speculation. In an article entitled “Three’s a Trend: The Decline of Google Search Quality,” technology, social media, and blogging pioneer Anil Dash brings up an interesting point: while the Google of late has been more concerned with how the web can better serve its own needs, the average user’s tolerance for Google’s indifference to their needs is waning. How will Google react to the demand for a better user experience?

Pay to Play on Google

The days of advertisements disguised as poorly written content are numbered. In 2011, Rosemont Media CEO Keith Humes predicts Google will adopt a pay-for-play system, where all keywords will become virtual currency. If their algorithm is unable to control the quality of their search results, Google’s only choice would be to assume control of the information by validating the source and ensuring all content is relevant and useful.

Google’s Three-Pronged Attack: Places, Adwords, and Googlepon

What does this mean for SERPs? As Google moves to an increasingly local search platform, they will continue to blend SERPs to create a mash-up of Google Places, Adwords, and Googlepon, their own version of Groupon. By utilizing their ability to distribute targeted information to a large online audience within a given location, you will likely begin to see a yellow pages version of your local coupon clipper magazine delivered directly to your inbox or search results based entirely on paid advertisements.

Social Search Targets Google’s Bread and Butter

Googlepon will be the search giant’s answer to the Facebook addiction, the obsession, and more importantly, the looming social media search option that has planted Google firmly in Facebook’s crosshairs. Whether that incorporates some form of Google’s own social networking community, or simply the continued pursuit of the perfect search result remains to be seen.

Google Should Know Mom Always Knows Best

However Google decides to combat the impending success of social search, they will have to compete with the qualified, trusted feedback provided by friends and family in our social networks. As Yahoo and Bing begin to incorporate reviews and “likes” for products and services relevant to search results, Google may simply have to follow the pack on this one.

The End of Flash and More 2011 Predictions

Check out the Rosemont Review throughout this week for our continued series on 2011 Predictions, including the end of flash, the laptop, and the TV, all thanks to the mobile revolution.

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