Google is making headlines again, as they begin to reveal information about the next generation of their search engine. Google is trying to stay on top of the search market, which includes competitors Bing, Yahoo, Apple (now with Siri), and certain aspects of Facebook. In coming weeks, you should begin to see snippets of change in the way search results are provided. Google will start favoring sites that have more relevant content vs. sites that are simply overly optimized. While you don't want to wait to start optimizing your site to Google's new standards, top execs at Google say (source: The Wall Street Journal ) that it will actually be a couple of years for its changes to be fully in place.
What will the new search engine look like?
Google's plan is to provide increasingly relevant search results. For example, if you do a search for a set of home audio speakers, you want relevant places (both locally and online) that provide you with a place to purchase your speakers. Google will weed out those sites that lack relevant information or are simply links to other sites. They will begin doing this by implementing technology called "semantic search." Semantic search will draw results from a database that Google has been building, which is filled with "hundreds of millions" of entities, people, places, and things. The search will also draw associations between certain words that are typed into their search box. Google will also be providing more direct answers to search queries, which will appear at the top of the page, instead of simply providing those links as it has done historically.
Does this mean all of my previous optimization efforts are void?
Your work of strategically placing keywords on your website will not fall by the wayside - rather Google will look for both keywords AND entities when it looks for search results. However, there will probably be a shift in the way content is entered onto websites so as to provide relevant "semantic search" information. Although Google has yet to confirm this, there is knowledgeable speculation that "marking up" content will help pages rank higher in the new search engine.
What is marking up? Simply put. this means adding Html tags to website coding which "explains" to the search engine, what is being discussed in your content. Visit here (http://schema.org/docs/gs.html#microdata_how) to learn a bit more.
The good news is that the more relevant & up-to-date content you include on your site, the less you need to worry about Google's ranking changes. Google will always value solid content in its results. But for websites that are link-farms or overstuffed with keywords and nonsense content - Google aims to keep those sites from appearing anywhere near the top of search results. Google recognizes that most users do not find relevant informatin on these pages.
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Further Resources (and Sources):
If you would rather watch, than read about the new changes, then visit this link for an informative video about Google's search changes.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Web Site Development, SEO, SEM