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21 The Search it is a Changin

coffeeCurrently, it seems like there is a lot going on in the world of search that is pretty exciting for the typical user. Today I would like to point out a few changes I’ve noticed and what they might mean for your SEM and SEO efforts.

Visual Search – images seem to be getting more and more important in the search world. I don’t know if it’s a function of the fact that no one likes to read of if images are being used digitally (say as phone wallpaper) much as they were in print fashion years ago. It’s always been a good idea to optimize your images online, say with a file name and alt attribute that describe the content, but with Google’s changes to their image search engine it’s probably more useful than ever. Also, check out how Bing is displaying images with it’s Visual Search feature – this is a Bing search for Pulitzer winning fiction

A Feisty Competitor – And speaking of Bing, depending upon the research you choose Bing and proposed combination of Bing results for Yahoo search could start to put a dent in the once thought impossible Google search share. Bing users are finding the comparison shopping and travel, including airfare prediction feature very attractive. It’s certainly time to plug in and make sure your sitemap and other functions are playing well with Bing

Would you like a biscotti with that? – Lastly, Google is poised to release an update to its search algorithm so substantial they are making the rounds promoting it and allowing developers to play with it to experiment with results. The update is dubbed caffeine. The big promise is better results, faster results and real time results. The search engine optimization community always get very nervous during these updates but many signs point to the fact that if you produce lots of high quality content you’ll be fine. Although, take note (and I’ve been suggesting this for some time), social media content seems to becoming even more important for ranking purposes. I do also think that page load will get more emphasis so I would run your pages through the YSlow tool to get suggestions on speeding up page loads. You can play with search results in caffeine right now and see how your site will fare in a split screen mode of Google vs Google Caffeine Rank Tool. Google’s search voice Matt Cutts also shares views on Caffeine

8 Don't Just Do Search Better, Do It Differently

bingMicrosoft’s relaunched search tool, named Bing, came live this week and I think there’s a lot to like about it. The primary focus it seems is to reposition how we use and interact with search results rather than simply try to do a better Google. But, in doing so, perhaps it will create a better experience too.

While you can do regular old search on Bing, it is billed as a “decision engine” and presents and organizes results best when you are trying to find something like health answers, travel or shopping deals, local info or comparing items. With Bing, it appears that Microsoft is attempting to allow surfers to find and compare items or services they are shopping for and then integrate the actual purchase into the engine with Bing cashback. (Some items that you buy while searching on Bing reward you with cashback)

Travel is another important focus on Bing. You can bring together airline and hotel searches with price comparison and ratings and reviews. The look and feel of the travel portal is much more like that of an online travel agency than a search engine. You can even get the latest travel deals by following @fareologist on twitter.

Local search seems to get the short end of the stick. You can perform a local search and get results for local business much like you could via MSNLive Search. But, you must click on the local results tab to drill down and sort and filter your search by things like ratings. I was hoping this functionality would be more front and center.

    Some random features you might like:

  • Really like the page snapshot – just hover near the description of a search result and get a peek at the content
  • Video and image search engines seem to locate well and have nice search and filter tools
  • Related searches show up in the left sidebar and can help you refine your search
  • When you search for an individual you get all kinds of related searches such as quotes and interviews by that person

It’s worth checking out and I plan to work the travel site pretty hard to see what it turns up.

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