1. Google encrypted search
In a move which could have enormous implications for online publishers, Google announced that it is experimenting with encrypted search.
In plainer language, this means that – if someone is using the service – you won’t know what they have been searching for when they arrive at your website. This is great for privacy, but clearly scuppers any plans publishers might have to sell advertising based on what people are searching for when they arrive at the site – or, indeed, plans to adapt editorial based on what users are most interested in.
The service was initially available at https://google.com (note the https), but Google have since said that the service will be moved to a separate domain after schools complained that it would allow students to bypass their filtering systems.
That setback aside, the development of secure search and consumers’ increasing desire to protect their privacy is a significant move that publishers should prepare for, not least because it would ringfence Google’s monopoly on search-based advertising (for all their respect for users’ privacy, Google will still know what users are searching for).
2. Google News tests sharing function
Meanwhile, on Google News, some users have reported seeing a ‘sharing’ option next to news stories.
The significance of this? Until now there has been a clear divide between search engine optimisation (SEO) and social media optimisation (SMO). The option to ‘share’ news items turns Google News into a more social platform – akin to Digg, Facebook or Twitter – that has implications for distribution and, presumably, SEO as well (assuming that sharing data contributes to a story’s placement on the site).
3. Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)
No new announcement here, just 2 very informative posts on the technology that search engines use to check how relevant your content is to a particular keyword search. The first is an introductory post from Search Engine Journal, but the second is a more technical, myth-busting piece which ultimately says ‘This is not an SEO technique’. What both demonstrate is that, while there are many tricks and tips, you cannot avoid the fact that genuine rich editorial content is crucial to SEO.
4. Google Caffeine (Real-time search)
Bringing us bang up to date is the announcement that Google is finally implementing Caffeine, producing search results from a real-time index of websites rather than relying on one that is a few weeks old. I suspect the reality will be rather more patchy than that (I’ve just had a conversation with someone whose website hasn’t been indexed for over 4 weeks), but that aside, this article has some notable quotes on where search is heading:
““When it comes to human language understanding we are still at the toddler stage,” says Singhal. “But over the next ten years we will attain the level of an eight or nine year old. We’ll be able to perfect experiences we don’t fully trust today”.
““A search, say, for chocolate milk on your internet-enabled phone,” he says, “would produce directions to the nearest store that had it in stock – any information, anywhere you are, comes to you before you need it. The world is not web pages – it is entities and things.”