Never try to predict unpredictable. That’s advice I have been given and advice I am going to completely ignore this month, by attempting to predict movements of volatile search engine industry over next 12 months. Here they are, my personal predictions for 2002:
1. Increase in Pay For Performance (PFP) Options - when you consider that a year ago there were only a couple of search engines offering PFP options, you realize how important PFP has now become (by PFP I mean Pay-Per-Click options, paid inclusion, sponsored listings and keyword buys). All most important search engines now offer some type of PFP option and every SEO campaign should have some PFP components for best results.
I see this trend increasing, with major engines and directories expanding on range of PFP options they provide, whether in-house (such as Looksmart’s new LookListings range for small business), or outsourced (such as Yahoo’s recent partnering with Overture). I also see more traditional SEO’s embracing PFP for first time in 2002, as they realize benefits and results achievable for their clients and stop fretting over perceived loss of 'purity' of search results.
2. Increase in Paid Submissions - Looking back to November 2000, Looksmart was only one of major engines and directories to demand payment to consider a site for submission to their index. Yahoo introduced submission fees for commercial sites a month later. Both directories hiked up their price to USD 299 during this year, setting a new standard for industry and justifying value of their service via market share (Yahoo) and formation of new partnerships with other search players (Looksmart).
I would hope that Paid Submission fees remain static for 2002, at least for Yahoo and Looksmart. However I believe we’ll see other engines and directories introduce a fee for submission to their commercial categories. I think Google could be first of these.
3. Crackdown on Spammers - In their quest for relevant results, Google recently introduced Report a Spammer page, (http://www.google.com/contact/spamreport.html) as well as a beta page rating tool within their latest Toolbar (http:/ oolbar.google.com/go?version=beta&hl=en) that enables people to rate quality of sites they find in Google’s index. As well as enabling people to vote for sites they find providing quality content, this rating tool gives people opportunity to report sites using unacceptable spamdexing methods to try and obtain a high search ranking.
With engines like Google leading way in crackdown on search engine spammers, other engines should follow suit in 2002. As a result, there should be far less spammers and more relevant results across search engines by this time next year.