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Google sees the Future of Ogranic Search

In talk at Le Web conference in Paris, Google executive Marissa Mayer gave some answers about the way Google sees the future of organic search. But does their logic extend to other areas of organic search and what are the implications for SEO?

Google recently launched SearchWiki , its customizable search function. Since then there has been plenty of speculation that Google have long term plans to use this information to influence organic results. Google previously admitted to Search Engine Land that they were “not closing any doors” to the idea of using this information and Marissa Mayer made mention of this again at Le Web yesterday.

According to TechCrunch, who covered the Google executive’s talk, Mayer spoke about using SearchWiki data to at least make obvious changes, the example given being that if “thousands of people” were to remove the page from their personal results, Google would be likely to make a change.

The point she was making seems to be that Google feel personalisation is part of the future for search in general and that that is why they have introduced SearchWiki but, if they have all this wonderful data about what people like, why not use it to produce better results?

That seems a reasonable suggestion but how could they actually use this data? Google have been in the search game, fighting spammers for too long to jump in head first and make SearchWiki data a major part of their search algorithms so don’t expect to see that any time soon. The system would be too easily “gamed” by black hat SEOs in a similar way to the way social media sites such as Digg are abused now. It’s far more likely that it would be subtly added in as a minor ranking factor or used to flag sites up to human quality evaluators. With testing over time it may be then become a larger ranking factor, or not.

Google have given the impression here that they are using all the information at their disposal to improve the quality of their organic search results which is understandable. So what are the implications? Google has always maintained that it does not use information from Google Analytics as a factor in organic search results but it’s easy to see how the wealth of data collected from sites could be used effectively in this way.

Not every site uses Google analytics so perhaps that wouldn’t be fair or perfect anyway but Google has huge amounts of information on which pages are clicked in their results. They know how soon users return to search again or click another link from the same results. This can be used to calculate a bounce rate i.e. number of users who click that link then only look at one page before moving away from the site. It also gives a good idea of how long people spend on that page. Removing a page that had thousands of clicks, a 99% bounce rate and time on page of under 3 seconds might be a better signal to lower a pages ranking than relying on people’s opinions on SearchWiki.

Google is, for good reasons, secretive about the factors it uses to rank sites for organic search. There is a possibility that bounce rates etc. are being used already to rank sites. We wouldn’t expect Google to tell anyone and it can be very difficult to test for minor ranking factors when there are so many others involved.

For any site, factors like bounce rates and time spent on the page are important to the overall health of the site and should really go hand in hand with good SEO practice. Improving site content and many other white hat SEO factors will automatically improve a site in these areas and this should be the aim of any site with long term goals. Perhaps using bounce rates and other analytics factors wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all. If they’re not being used already.

posted by Justin Jung, SEO Expert

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