Disa Johnson's 2010 predictions:
Excite is gone. Excitement lives on. There always seemed like there were enough major search engines to keep the Web a vibrant, competitive field. And then there were three. Google and Bing are racing further ahead than any real third place search engine in the race. That's why Twitter makes such a fun wild card 'pseudo'-search engine to write about. That's not to say there aren't a myriad of bona-fide search engines giving it a go. Or to actually say that Twitter is in the Web search engine business (it's not). It's that the playing field has moved underneath us all, shaking loose the likes of anyone but Google and Bing from the top throne of search, the top tier.
I asked Twitter (I might've Google Waved) for some predictions for this post. Wave has only made a ripple. I only gave Twitter an hour. I got some predictable responses. @Fantomaster predicted content auto-generation will be huge in 2010 because of newly available tools (hint), the strongly rising demand for it. Hah hah! @streko predicted that SEOMoz would 'out' a competitor on its blog. I can see SEOMOz double-purposing the link bait posts it's famous for. Then came the razzmatazz about mobile search from @TerryVanHorne, @GoogleAndBlog. Everyone wants info either pro, or con mobile search. That's what my, admittedly, SEO leaning Twitter followership produced in about an hour. Everyone else was asleep, partying for the New Year, or otherwise just not tuned in during that quick hour.
Bing is only two letters from Borg. You're either in, or... it's the search engine operated by a company that has the muscle to beat the smithereens out of Google. There is no questioning that. The Borg war-chest of cash, revenue from Win/IIS, with its install user-base makes Microsoft only tentative by DOJ rules before squishing the upstart Google like Netscape. I predict that 2010 is the year Google will exhaust itself racing as far ahead as it can, in all directions, from the Bing monster before succumbing to noticing a future reality beyond 2010. They will finish the year still ahead. Bing will have made impressive gains just from picking up Yahoo! Search backfill. The monster will be closing the gap.
WolframAlpha is the one to watch for a view into what search could become down the pike. The Bing team, I think they recognizes this. They include WolphramAlpha in their result set. The intriguing thing behind this is that Bing's criticism from industry pundits thus far, has been that if it can answer queries without sending users to third party sites, aren't they biting the hand that feeds them? Website owners drive content in search engines, right? Then again, it's a free for all with public content. Default query response at WolframAlpha would be a matching answer, before referring users outside its own website. Look for Bing to cater more to users like WolhramAlpha does, balanced a little with the SEO culture which WolframAlpha almost wholly ignores. My recommendation is check out WolphramAlpha's API for integrating apps into some of your site's pages to add value. There's more value from them forthcoming in 2010.
Bing is only one letter from Bong. They don't care what you do with your free time. They are not beholden to SEO whims, habits, needs. They like the ad revenue only so they team can look good to the collective. Microsoft as a company has enough cash on hand to just not care what SEOs think at all. Google wantonly links to pages in its result set in a sort of appeasement with the content owners they sample snippets from. The source for all their worth is copying what others publish. Sometimes, I think that's a liability for them, for they go too far! My prediction is that Google won't learn an important lesson about free speech.
Google caters to the government in China, a government that recently executed a mentally handicap Englishman in grisly public fashion this week. Google? No material comment. They should care more than simple words can convey. Google hosted an offensive image of Michelle Obama at Thanksgiving 2009. They cited their leanings towards free speech as a way to absolve themselves of hosting something they would gladly censor if it were the Chinese asking. Shame on them. Their systems also don't always permanently delete such things, for I find copyright disputed property continually appearing in their image engine, even when the website they drew it from has long deleted it for cease and desist. Google can't handle simple copyright reality. That's a liability with illegal content.
The most telling thing about their utter lack of experience in the ways of the world was their reason for eventually deleting the offensive image of the First Lady. It was deleted not because it was offensive, incites hate speech, constitutes a vicious personal attack. No. Not because the Chinese asked (they didn't). They would have instantly kowtowed to the Chinese. What was the reason they finally looked into the matter, deleting the image? They found malware on the destination page. Malware could harm Google users. Don't offensive images that incite violence and hate harm Google users? Yes. When they fail to get this, four Google Italy executives are getting sentenced for YouTube video troll attacks against citizens. Google better do better in 2010.
Google is completely mixed up about free speech. They forget they're just a website. They are granted free speech by governing bodies. They cannot themselves grant free speech to others. That's ridiculous. They can exercise their prerogative to delete offensive things at will, things that have held company executives liable for the media they house in Italy. They're making their company representatives vulnerable to prosecution. They are completely naive about the true notion of free speech. No website such as Google grants me free speech. My government grants me free speech (or does not). Google's hubris will be its undoing. They need an advocate to begin better handling the things that shouldn't be available to Web search, while they rush off distracted to index virtually everything there is. They are also distracted by a second front they've opened up with mobile OS makers.
Twitter. What a riot! The whole thing is based around simple status updates. They're going to add powerful location-based GeoAPI features with their acquisition of Mixer Labs. That's obvious. Less obvious, I think, is they can greatly enhance follower-tree features through their new Lists and ReTweet functionality. I for one, am really excited about Twitter itself. With its critical mass, Twitter has overtaken Digg. Twitter has proven profitable in 2009. There seems to be no stopping Twitter! The sheer volume of accounts and profiles (not limited to Twitter) is what @Fantomaster is talking about when he means content generation will be big in 2010. It's already happening with social applications that are populating the various sites where I have profiles. I linked my Twitter stream to Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace etc., which is a sort of content 'auto-generation.' I also have Twitter made available to Foursquare, Loopt and Yelp! These aren't new tools. They have new life for 2010 and will experience great growth in 2010. Those that plug in to Twitter with something useful, will do well in 2010.
That's where I'll blend the question about mobile search. What's true is, everyone is concerned about mobile search either as a non starter, or as the next big thing. It all boils down to devices, the availability of search on popular devices as a utility. What we've seen is map services get frequent search queries against them. That should come as no surprise. It should come as no surprise that device usage increased dramatically with the advent of the iPhone. Apple will release a new, impressive device January 26th. Look for it to increase demand for mobility, mobile device usage and location-based applications including search. Along with that will come more *local* search listings, (inherently mobile in nature). All indexes will further ramp up local business data. That's how it's going to work. That's why there was a near Google / Yelp combo which didn't fly 2009. Yelp walked away. What they have is extremely valuable.
Foursquare has 'view Tweets nearby.' I watched popular Yelpers and Yelp personalities join Twitter in droves 2009. Status updates, Yelp reviews, location based social gatherings are going to experience rapid growth in 2010, driven by new devices, device applications. Service providers from all walks of mobile digital life will need to write applications for iPhoneOS, Android, RIM, Symbian, any popular device-specific OS. Android has not overtaken RIM yet, though RIM remains tougher to write applications for. The standout leader is iPhoneOS. I'd look for RIM to retool to compete if they can, Android to make modest gains against iPhone through telecom deals, Windows Mobile is a wild card since they're lackluster in the area. That's it. Android has not heralded in a game changer. The Apple iPhone will continue to dominate regardless if Nokia successfully irritates them with a pending patent case.
That all points to one of the greatest areas of competition in the fight between Google and Bing. Microsoft can revamp Windows Mobile, though I think their effort will fall short of Android definitely, RIM and Symbian also. Look for any Windows Mobile development to bind Bing. Android for 2010 has a lot of headway to make up for the fact it's a Johnny Come Lately to mobile OS. What that means is that Google has lost its focus in the area of Web search, where the Bing team can seriously do some damage. Google can't retract all its initiatives, including hemorrhaging cash for YouTube violations, while concentrating on Android, at the same time as giving Web search its best effort, distracted by scanning books, getting busted by the French and all the lawsuits... I wish them luck with spam too, sorta. I think they need to remember that with themselves focused on all this other stuff, the Bing monster will lock its gaze on the prize and never let go. Resistance is futile. In any case, I look forward to the developments, live discussion and stuff with SearchCowboys, plus my own show AirDisa launching January 2010.
About Disa Johnson:
"Disa Johnson is well-known, especially well-known as a mobile and Web technology expert with exceptional skill at knowing the particulars of how to avoid trouble with search engines. She has been involved in a large capacity with the search engine industry since before year 1997. She has made numerous public appearances since 1999.
Disa Johnson is widely acknowledged as a top technical search-marketing expert and industry leader. Ms. Disa Johnson's expertise helped foster the development of the search marketing industry originally at MMG. She has pioneered best practices and methodology since the very first days of Web search in the mid nineties."
Disa can be found:
On her blog AirDisa
Disa Johnson on Google
Disa Johnson owns and operates Search Return LLC