Guestpost Joanna Butler: leaving the platform behind

Tue 19 January 2010 11:00, Bas van den Beld

Guestpost Joanna Butler: leaving the platform behind

I met Joanna for the first time over Skype, when doing an interview with her going uo ti A4UExpo. We then met also on other conferences. She is an excellent writer with a fresh 'chocolate' view on matters.

In her guestpost "2010: leaving the platform behind and embracing social" Joanna looks at the different elements which are now dominating the search topics: Google, social, realtime and Bing. And she ends with a very interesting statement: forget platforms.

2010: leaving the platform behind and embracing social
In order to predict what 2010 will bring, we need to look back on the progress made through 2009. Although Google 'does no evil' it continued to be borderline evil through an aggressive product release schedule in the last few weeks. Those included minimising the awareness of personalised search (something with potentially huge ramifications), but maximising the wow factor of their real time results - which was, let's face it, a fantastic toy, ideal for spammers. 

Google's power
Let's not forget that Google also unleashed a powerful offline awareness campaign for Google Chrome. It's very much like the budget for this campaign had been simply sitting and waiting for months for the release of the Mac version of Google Chrome. This is a demonstration of how Google can reach out to non-search geeks, offline.  We'd be wise to be aware of the potential budgets that Google could have on tap for aggressive campaigns like this in 2010... 

Nodding (and Waving) to social 
In 2010, no search engine can afford to do anything without being social. Any product released (think Google Wave) must not only incorporate a social element, but the release itself must allow for a full feedback loop back to the developers on how the product is doing. Remembering that Yahoo! will soon be Bing making it is a two horse race; in 2009 both Bing and Google recognised the need to move into social areas with the addition of real time search. Google's integration was more intuitive with actual scrolling real time mentions of the search term integrated with Twitter, blogs and news. This nod to integrated real time mentions in social media is a public demonstration that Google is aware of trending topics, not only in searches, but in discussions across the web beyond its properties and even Twitter alone. A next step by Google could see it incorporating its powerful understanding of languages for example, and it could easily create a social product that bridges languages in order to unite people discussing a hot topic.  

Bing: better but not best 
Bing in 2010? I like Bing, but... Microsoft’s products generally centre around heavy use of graphics or processing power. It tries to accomplish so much at once with every product release that there are inevitably bugs and performance issues. In addition to this, Bing is also a little confusing to use at times - there are a lot of messages to the user. I wonder how much influence that first picture on Bing's homepage has on someone's initial search query and search behaviour? How many people forget what they came to Bing to search for in the first place, get distracted by the information in the picture, and fail to leave with the information they came to find? I know I've done that. Subconsciously you leave thinking "that was a nice, unexpected experience, but it didn't really help me". 

That said, I'm impressed with Bing Maps Beta which is a promising sign that Bing could be moving on up. And the fact that the branding is 'Bing' and not 'Microsoft Bing' or 'Bing Live' etc. - perhaps Bing won't rebrand in 2010?! I can't see Bing having more search engine market share than 20-25%, however. 

Forget platforms 
Mobile search? As many have said already, for several years now we've predicted mobile search to surge. I predict it will continue to increase in 2010, and in PPC there will be plenty of money to be made from it - there are still many untouched niches. But it's all about social; more than the platform. It's about that full circle of communication. I think Google's understanding and embracing of all things social will continue in 2010 in new ways and it will be this that will mean it continues to dominate the search engine market share. Twitter? It's just another platform...

About Joanna Butler:

"Joanna Butler is a London SEO and online marketing consultant. Her main areas of expertise lie in building killer online marketing strategies from a combination of any or all of the following: search engine optimisation (SEO), web analytics, social media and paid search (PPC). She also passionate about usability, accessibility and online PR and she adores working for my clients who consist of both large blue chip companies and SMEs. She also loves to speak at conferences about my online marketing experiences."

Joanna can be found:

On Twitter
On her personal website
On Google

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