Search, both organic and paid, continue to evolve and mature. No longer is it a matter of tweaking meta tags to get top listings. In many cases it can take months or years to achieve top positions in competitive keyphrase markets. However, there are some future considerations one must be aware of with search so that they can take advantage of them. This article outlines some of the future innovations I see coming.
Some of those innovations are right around the corner. In fact some sites are doing them now very well. Iím referring to feeds.
Feeds are ways of syndicating your content to the world. Rather than a visitor having to find your site through a search engine, you can syndicate your content through a feed search engine and have it served to searchers that way.
In fact, the site you are reading this article on has a feed. That way, rather than coming to this site on a daily basis to see whatís new, you can subscribe to the siteís feed and find out without even coming to the site.
There are many feed readers out there. My personal favorite is called Sage Ė itís a FireFox browser extension that lets me download and scan my favorite feeds and only read the posts I find interesting.
I find feed reading is an exceptional time saver because I can visit dozens of sites via their feeds, and scan them all in about 1/10 of the time it would have taken me to go to the site and browse the new links.
Of course that means I have more time to subscribe to even more feeds. So using those feed engines I mentioned above, I can find more feeds on the topics I am interested in.
Some of the more popular feed engines include Technorati, Bloglines and Feedster to name just a few. There are in truth about 2 dozen such feed engines.
The way feeds work is that when you update your site with new content, you let the engine know that thereís been an update to your site via a ping. You ping their site, and they register the IP and domain name of the ping and come get the new post. Itís a very efficient system as they donít need crawlers out there actively crawling the web like Yahoo! Google or MSN. They only crawl the sites from which they receive a ping.
And like anything on the web there is an emerging money making opportunity with feeds.
As you may have already guessed, a person doesnít have to come to a site if they donít want to. Therefore, if you rely on visits to make money, you could essentially be losing money because of your feed.
But, there are ways to recoup some of that cost. By inserting advertising on you feed you can still attempt to recover some of that potential lost income.
Now donít forget, if someone has subscribed to your feed it is because they are interested in what you talk about on your site. Therefore the hard part Ė convincing them that your site is an authority Ė is pretty much done.
So if you place the ads within your feed as they relate to your product or service, you could increase your sales potential.
Of course the major engines also realize the earning potential of feeds, so they too are developing feed based advertising. I recently received an email from Google AdSense asking me if Iíd like to apply for their new program Ė AdSense for Feeds. Of course I did. AdSense is a great way for my site to make money and all I have to do is insert some code into my feed.
And, as I touched on briefly above, by having a feed, you are helping build your credibility in the industry as well as your brand. As people revisit your feed posts, they become more comfortable with your business. They may even begin to refer others to your feed because of the quality of information found there.
This all goes towards reinforcing your brand in their eyes. Even if you canít compete organically, or canít afford an expensive PPC campaign, you are still high ranking in their eyes. They may even bypass a search engine altogether and go to your site to purchase without doing the typical comparison shopping they are used to simply because they trust you through your feed. Iíd say thatís a pretty powerful tool.
Now feeds are just beginning to gain momentum with more traditional online advertisers. Sure feeds have been around a while, but many companies still donít utilize them. But they are beginning to see the benefits of them now. I think over the next year you will see an explosion in feeds, and the advertising opportunities associated with them.
Letís explore a little further out, time wise, to get some ideas as to what I see in the future.
Not too far down the road from now Ė say 2-4 years out Ė all our portable devices will be location aware. That is they will know, via GPS and other ways, where they physically are. This holds huge potential for advertisers.
But before I get into the advertising potential, letís look at the potential for the owner of that device.
With a location aware device, no longer will you have to build complex search queries on that little keypad to find something close to you Ė the cell phone or PDA or other hand held device will already know the location. If itís lunch time and you want pizza, then all you will have to do is enter ďpizzaĒ and the device will know to order them how you prefer Ė by geography, by price, or by rating. It can then show you, via the screen, where each is in relation to you, as well as provide detailed instructions on how to get there.
But wait, lets take this a step further. As we become more reliant on our portable devices they will begin to take some of the mundane tasks on. Your spouse can send you a shopping list of items to pick up after work, and your device will remind you. And as you pass the grocery store it will remind you again. It could even have the ability to go out and do price comparisons of the list with local stores to find out which would give you the best deal, and then map your route to that store, taking into account real time traffic reports, to find you the quickest route there and home.
Once at the store, the device will download a store map and plot the location of each item on the shopping list, planning the quickest route through the store to get everything on the list, and then find the cashier with the shortest line up. It could even have the ability to take you to the checkout with no cashier Ė it could communicate with the register Ė letting it know what you purchased, and it could even authorize the bank withdrawal. You donít have to do anything except ensure you have the device with you.
Hereís another scenario: Letís say that every Wednesday night you go out for dinner. The device could be surfing the web in your location, finding the restaurants, reading their reviews and specials and storing them, so that at dinner time you pick the type of food you want (such as Chinese, Indian, or just a cheese burger) and it will find you the best restaurant based on reviews and pricing, and plot your course there Ė again avoiding traffic problems. It could even forward your choice to other personal devices (such as your spouses or childrenís phones) and they could meet you there, as their devices will also plot a course to the location for them.
With the capabilities of new portable devices now and in the future, our lives can become a little easier, as we will begin to rely on them for some of the more mundane tasks.
And remember earlier when I said there are huge advertising opportunities out there? Well imagine this Ė itís 2 in the afternoon and you are in an unfamiliar city. The temperature is hot. As you are walking past a convenience store, and ad appears on your display Ė ice cold coke - $1.00. Up until now, you havenít realized how hot it was, or that you were thirsty, but the ad triggers something and you decide you have to have a coke Ė so of course you go into the store and purchase one. You didnít think about it, and the store didnít have to do too much to advertise it to you, but they made some money on an impulse purchase that you hadnít even considered.
The same could hold true for almost any business. Again, when your wireless device knows your preferences, you could receive ads from Blockbuster advertising a new movie that fits your viewing preferences, or the local sporting goods store could serve you a an ad tailored to you based on the type of sports you like. So that in the fall, they would let you know when skis were on sale, and in the spring let you know when running shoes were on sale.
The great thing about these types of devices is that they will know what you like and donít like (either by you letting them know, or by them learning based on your usage) and they will begin to refuse ads that donít suit you. If you donít want ads at all thatís fine too Ė just let the device know.
Really, with the advent of wireless broadband becoming a reality, and the increased potential of these types of wireless devices, this scenario will be likely in the near future. Right now you can browse the web and read your email via your phone. And newer phones today have increased memory capacity. Some even have hard drives in them. Before you know it, you too will have such a device. One that will make your life easier by helping you make some of the less important decisions such as where to buy your groceries or where to go for lunch. In fact, you will begin to wonder how you ever got along without such a device before.
As you can see, Iíve only touched on a couple of the opportunities out there in the near term and far term. Iím sure there will be more, but these are the 2 that I see as significant.
As our technology improves, and becomes more ingrained into our daily life, the web can help them make our lives much easier. And like I mentioned, for every way to make our lives easier, there is the potential to serve web based ads as well.