Mobile, Search, Social and Beyond
Mobile Continues to Grow
In previous posts I’ve mentioned where the mobile market is headed and the importance of the emerging mobile market. With over 5 billion mobile devices expected to be in use by 2012, I don’t see this area losing any steam next year. Marketing in the mobile world will continue to grow and according to the Direct Marketing Association, mobile spending is predicted to grow 39 percent and should come close to the $1.2 billion mark. With only 33% of US businesses having mobile friendly websites, the time is now to “go mobile” while the opportunity still exists.
Google’s Panda/Farmer update earlier this year affected a lot of websites and brought to light that a “quality” website is favored by the search giant. Post Panda, design, branding, user engagement and social signals all seem to have more weight to a site’s rank. No one really knows how much weight these factors have but a poorly designed, ad heavy site with thin content that was ranking well will not rank as strongly after this update. You’d think that quality would be a given but this relatively major update has really tried to weed out the content farms and low quality websites.
The design, brand, user engagement and social footprint all need to be thought out, planned and integrated to really create a well rounded digital footprint that plays well with Google. As Google figures out how to work these factors further into their algorithm, the need to adhere to these factors will become more and more important in order to obtain those first page search results.
Check out that graph! With vists up 10,000 percent from last year and up 50 percent from last month, I’d say that the scrap booking inspired social network Pinterest, is gaining popularity. Is it just a fad or will this social network really take hold? Compared to other networks, Pinterest is the biggest mover. It might be too early to tell but I think 2012 will be a big year for the pin boarding site.
Think of the site as a blend between Google Images and Twitter. Users can create “boards” based around specific interests and “pin” images to them. Users can follow others with similar interests and can share, comment, interact with others boards.
The visual nature of the site is pretty cool and really sets the site apart from other networks. Having all of your interests and your friends interests at your fingertips can offer up tons of inspirational ideas and recommendations that are accurate and credible to your tastes.
Google dominates the search world with a 65% market share but the need for the most accurate and relative search results might push users away from algorithm based search engines. Search results maintained by humans present a socialized search experience that might gain popularity in 2012. At the moment, I don’t think any of these have the potential to dethrone Google but at one point no one knew about Google either.
- Blekko’s goal is to use human editors and not algorithms in order to personalize and socialize the search experience. With users maintaining topic tags, search results can be more relative and accurate to the query. Blekko averages 1 million searches a day.
- DuckDuckGo has partnered with Blekko and shares some of the same information and technology to improve search results. DuckDuckGo’s main feature provides zero-click info, similar to Google Instant Search, DuckDuckGo tries to provide the most relevant information without clicking. DuckDuckGo averages about 5 million searches/month.
- Greplin, Wajam and Quora are three other alternatives that are socially and human driven search engines.
Filter Bubbles Burst
Eli Pariser offers up some very insightful thoughts based around how we find information and how that information is filtered to us. We experience these filter bubbles on a daily basis and may not even know that certain content is hidden from us. Google forms user profiles and engineers the info sent to your results page based on past searches and web activity. If I like Obama, Google determines that and sends me pro Obama links when searched, if I do not like Obama, I mainly get negative links when I search for Obama. As Google tries to serve up what it thinks I want, my view of the world is misshapen by the search engine.
So how do we break these filter bubbles? The social web seems to be a partial solution but even then the social web won’t fully solve filter bubble issues. 2012 might see the rise of human based search engines and the human element of Pinterest might help you find that perfect recipe.
It’s pretty apparent that fully relying on algorithms to serve us the “right” content isn’t the answer. Even algorithm based Google is starting to take human interaction and social signals into consideration when ranking pages. No matter where the filter exists, whether it’s Facebook, Netflix or Google, the need for the human touch is the future.