To the casual user it may look like search engines are slowly evolving over time, most visibly when Yahoo! launches a redesign or when the much publicized transformation of Live Search into Bing occurs. However, the reality is that underneath the hood, Google is constantly tweaking its rankings formula. A website’s ranking and position within the Google search results can and often does change before the day is out. As Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president of Search Products & User Experience explains, the company is continuously tweaking and refining its formula “algorithm” in a race against spammers and others who attempt to game its system, all the while also working to create the perfect search engine for its users.
“We have two, three, five changes every week that are visible to the end-user in the user interface. We don’t [publicize] the ranking changes. We are making changes to our ranking algorithm at the rate of two per day…Search needs to evolve: the user interface, the ranking function. It’s a process of making lots of small changes all the time and to constantly make things better”.
The most notable innovation of the last three years was Universal Search in May 2007, which added news articles, images, videos, books, and maps into the search results. An even bigger change to the search landscape is the increasing availability of personalization features that allow registered users to customize their search results options. Moreover, search behavior is changing over time as people are using more words per query and it is not unfathomable that SEO in its present form could become extinct. For example, the meta keywords tag was once, but no longer is, an important ingredient in SEO.
What this all means is that search engine algorithms are extremely sophisticated and are being tweaked and updated, often daily. As sophisticated as search may seem to have already become, it is indisputable that these algorithms will be continue to be refined and overhauled in both the near and long term.