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Three Search Engine Changes We’ll See in 2012

by Marcus Snyder

2012 is certain to come with a lot of changes in the way that search engines work. More importantly, we’re going to see a lot of changes to the way that search results that show up. I’ve collected a few things that I think we’ll see (or in some cases, see more of) in 2012:

Search algorithms will continue moving toward personalized results.

Last April, Google rolled out their “Panda” update that made significant changes to their search algorithm in an attempt to “provide better rankings for high-quality sites —sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.” Suddenly, news and social networking websites rose toward the top of the search results, oftentimes pushing content farms off of the first page.

Google’s releasing of ‘Search Plus Your World’ last week was a giant leap in the way that search engines work – although I’m not entirely sure if this was a leap forward or a leap backward (post your opinion in the comments section – I’d love to hear what you think). Regardless, Google is becoming more and more personal with each algorithm adjustment, and they’re showing no signs of stopping. People are the new authority.

The takeaway: Google believes that social + timeliness = relevance. If you want to rank high on Google search, now may be a good time to dust off that Google+ profile.

Quality, not quantity.

This is one of those things that should have been at the core of search engines upon conception, alas … Over a decade later, search engines are finally starting to understand that just because a site has a lot of pages, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the quality of those pages are very high (we’re looking at you, content farms).

The takeaway: If you want to rank high in search results, then you need to take the time to create fresh, high-quality content for your site on a regular basis.

Mobile search will soon be in the driver’s seat.

The fact is that about 35% of Americans own smartphones and if you’ve ever bought one of those, you know that you’re required to pick up a data plan as well. So, aside from playing an obscene amount of Angry Birds, what are people doing with their phones?

The short answer: searching. Mobile search is increasing, and it’s increasing rapidly. With the advent of Siri and other voice-based mobile searching, it won’t be long before mobile search overtakes all other mediums. I’d put money on it happening before the year’s end, unless of course, the Mayan’s end of the world prediction proves to be true.

The takeaway: Start thinking about the way people search on mobile vs. computers and leverage this. Browse your analytics and look at the keywords that came from mobile devices. Use this data to optimize your paid search campaigns. In order to maximize conversions, make sure that your website is optimized for mobile devices.

What do you think the biggest changes in search are going to be? Sound off in the comments section below!