The Future of Search: How Local and Social Media Will Change Everything

June 23, 2012 by  Filed under: SEO 

The internet has come a long way since Google was founded fourteen years ago. Back then the internet was little more than a toy. Many people considered it another passing fad of the 1990’s like Zuba pants and fanny packs. Boy, were they wrong. Today the internet has become as much a part of our lives as anything else and most of us couldn’t imagine life without it.

As much as the internet has changed over the last fourteen years, searching on it has changed just as much. When Google and Yahoo! first started in the search engine business it was less a science and more a shot in the dark. You would conduct a search and hope that you found what you were looking for. Today you expect to find what you are looking for on the first try. That’s how good search engines have gotten in delivering the most relevant results.

How much better can search engines get in delivering us the most accurate and relevant results and what does the future of search hold?

Local, Local, Local!

Google in particular has put an emphasis on local results. Their goal is to deliver you the most relevant results based on your geographical location. Because you can tell Google exactly where you are at the time you are conducting your search, as well as the fact that they can do a pretty good job of pin-pointing your location on their own based on your IP address, searching for something like “pizza” has become as easy as, well, pie… pizza pie that is. When you search for “pizza” the results you see on the first page are almost exclusively local restaurants. You no longer have to include your city or town in the search query to receive local results. Google is able to do this not only because they have the most intricate and sophisticated search algorithm, but because their “Places” portal allows companies to tell them exactly where they are located, what services they provide, their hours of operation, the areas in which they serve and much more. Google has gotten almost every business in the world to give them the information they need to deliver the most relevant results of their own free will. Not only does this make Google’s job easier, but it also makes the internet that much more useful for both businesses and their potential customers.

In the future we can assume that local results will become more relevant and accurate as well as essential in our day-to-day lives. Google’s decision to put an increased emphasis on local results has changed the way an SEO company optimizes for their customers. It has also put greater weight on business reviews. The Google Places listings do not operate on the same search algorithm as the organic search results do. There is more weight placed on the internet chatter regarding businesses. The more reviews and mentions of a certain businesses across the net the more likely their local listing will show up on the first page of results. This fact has forced SEO companies to change their strategies over the last four or five years. As “local” becomes even more relevant we are sure to see even more changes in how businesses market themselves on the internet and how SEO is conducted.


Google+ is a social network developed by Google to compete with the likes of Facebook and Twitter. While it is still early, there are signs that Google+ is showing an ability to compete with the other major social networks. If they are able to succeed in the realm of social media it will have a tremendous impact on the future of search.

Google delivers you results based on many factors including your location as well as your search and browsing history. With the advent of Google+ it will become possible for them to deliver you results as personalized as the advertisements that Facebook delivers to their users.

Facebook is able to show you such personalized advertisements because you willingly give them more information than you would ever give your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, you name it. This gives them a huge advantage and makes them an extremely valuable outlet for businesses looking to advertise their products or services. Google has seen the advantage that Facebook has gained from being able to extract this information and wants to take advantage of it themselves.

If Google is successful in getting people to give them the same kind and amount of information that Facebook does then it is very likely that in the future everyone will receive their own personalized search results based on the information they so freely gave away. This has tremendous implications not only for search, but also for privacy concerns. Facebook has already come under fire for giving away too much of their users personal information and Google has also been criticized for lacking adequate concern for their users privacy. With the advent of Google+ those concerns will only continue to grow regardless of how much it may help improve search results and in turn the lives of its users.

The impact on SEO is also great. If everyone is being delivered personalized results how does one optimize a site for the masses? More concerning is how does an SEO company show tangible results in the form of reporting if everyone is seeing different search results? These are questions that will have to be tackled by SEO specialists and experts alike in the near future.

Social Media

The creation of social media has arguably changed our lives more than even search engines have. Looking into the future we can envision a time where social media has a direct impact on the search results you see every day. We can envision this time in the future not just because we are omniscient, but also because Google has told us so.

The idea that social media is eventually going to be the most important factor in which results are shown to you during a search is truly intriguing.

For years Google has delivered results based on Page Rank. Page Rank, simply defined, is a ranking given to a particular webpage based on the number of quality links leading to it. In other words, the most important factor in how well a webpage was ranked was based on the number and quality of back links that a particular page had. Very soon that will all change.

It is the goal of Google and the other search engines to deliver the most relevant search results possible. Because so many people have found a way to manipulate the search algorithms that are based heavily on back links, Google has decided on another way to give people what they feel are the most relevant results. By using social media mentions, or “buzz,” Google believes that it will be able to give people results that are extremely relevant and the most useful. The way Google see it, if people are talking about a business or website in a positive way across all social media sites then that said business or website must be useful and contain valuable information, and therefore they are going to have it show up higher in the results because of that.

Keep in mind that social media does not only consist of sites like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. Social media is all media that allows the public to participate in or create the content themselves. Sites like Squidoo, and Linkedin as well as sites like Yelp and Angie’s list have a social media component and reviews and mentions on those sites will help with rankings as well.

We all know that social media is important for businesses and individuals alike for so many reasons, but in the near future it will become even more pertinent for businesses and individuals to participate in social media. We can envision a time in the near future where there isn’t a person on earth with an internet connection that doesn’t belong to one social media site or another.

In conclusion

The future of search looks to be an exciting one. Keep in mind that the future is always changing and what may be foreseen today may not come to pass and what is not foreseen right now may have a larger impact than anything we have mentioned here today. The above examples are just a few of the expected and exciting changes we expect to see take place very soon.

Joe Piracci is an internet marketing expert with over 7 years of experience with SEO, SEM, SMM and E-commerce management. If you are in the need of any of the above services please contact Joe’s company, Predominant Domains, an SEM Company.

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