What Will 2009 Bring Us?

Well, it’s that time of year again. Of course, I’m referring to the time of year when people spout off about their predictions for the coming year. Yes, the weather outside is mighty frightful and the economic climate will be spiteful. Since we can’t afford to go anywhere, let it search, let it search, let it search.

1. Google Embraces Big Government

As if we didn’t have enough to worry about, another downside of a sliding economy is that little things like net neutrality and Internet commerce get less and less attention. In other words, buying back our collective housing and auto industries take priority over little things like private companies impeding upon certain liberties.

For the record, 30-odd years of money being available to any idiot that can speak or breathe put us in this situation and, as is often the case with opportunism at the expense of the weak, very few actually made money. The government now has a great deal of equity in the private sector and we’re all in for a ride.

Google’s CEO out there stumping for the obvious presidential winner — which in no way represented the interests of Google, of course — should have been an interesting clue. Conversely, you could re-watch Obama’s famous infomercial with the tiny print disclaimer appearing below the large print “CEO GOOGLE” declaring Schmidt’s endorsement as “personal.” Then again, Schmidt took himself out of the running for national chief tech guy spot, so maybe I’m off.

Then again, maybe running under the radar is the plan. It’s going to be increasingly difficult for Google to run under the radar, I just hope we have the good sense to keep an eye on the “do no evil” people.

2. Search Continues to Blend

The blended search model works. As search becomes more personal (because no one seems to care about privacy), results will include more and more information that can’t be included in a little blue text link.

Finally, more listings will contain local information, news, maps, video and vertical interest information. Way back in March, we looked at overall blended search penetration at Search Engine Strategies New York. ComScore data revealed that roughly 17 percent of searches contained some type of blended result. When we revisited that data at SES Chicago last week, we found that blended penetration had almost doubled at over 31 percent of all searches.

What does that mean for you? Search will become more complicated than it has ever been. Old disciples in SEO won’t go away — they’ll be required reading. In the short term, those who optimize video and vertical site assets will win.

Over the mid and long term, the search results page will become more of a destination as users are offered more choices and visual candy when they search. Paid search strategies will have to be modified to accommodate increasingly competitive and chaotic results pages.

3. Yahoo + Microsoft = Chaos

Once Yahoo locates a new CEO (again, my apologies, I have plans in the new year, so I’ll pass on the job), there will be a renewed interest in combining assets with Microsoft. Both companies are loaded with potential that might possibly be realized by combining efforts. Sadly, the Wall Street Bullspit of 2008 painted Yahoo in a very negative light. I know I’ve said this before, but not conserving energy for the post bean counter meetings is where most every company goes wrong.

One man (that would be me) can only hope any acquisition would require both parties sitting down to discuss strategic integration of tangible assets along with intangibles like the plethora of talent in both organizations. Despite the hype about a talent exodus, both Microsoft and Yahoo have a large pile of good people that are willing and able to the combined entity achieve success.

Happy holidays dear readers!

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