The future of Google search might look a lot like the current set up on sites like Reddit where users can submit, comment on, and vote for links they like. A limited number of Google users have begun to see up and down arrows next to all links on a search result page, and a place to leave comments about a website that appears in said search results.
Of course, Google’s current search results are based on a protected, private algorithm that somehow uses the number of incoming links, the relevancy of the pages linking to each other, and the organization of text and anchor text on the pages. Specifics aren’t completely known, but SEOs are always picking away at anomalies and establishing patterns that help explain the visible search results. I’ve had my own first run-in with an obvious penalty that knocks me down relative to what had been ever-increasing positions, so obviously there is a little more subtlety than just counting everything up and taking the highest pagerank.
A lot of this business could simply “go away” if Google moves forward with a new version of search that has been tested and tweaked for the last few years: The Industry Standard is reporting that “Google is considering allowing users of its search engine to tinker with query results by re-ranking them and commenting on them”
For now, Google is only trying this out with a few people’s accounts, and even then each search result profile is stored as a personalized result.
But obviously, this opens up a bigger arena of whats possible from letting users edit search results. Google is almost certainly learning how sites like Digg and Reddit use surfers decide on how to rank links in a democratic fashion. As long as Google was able to reign in abuses of people using bots to automatically vote links to the top of the search results, a democratic system of web rankings could be beneficially as a means of knocking out made for advertising and other spammy websites that don’t deliver what they claim to promise.
So what becomes of the backlink-building school of SEO workers? Perhaps, back to journalism, photpgraphy, art, and programming school – because the new internet search version 2.0 would be ruled by the value of content first. Of course, links will always be important even if its just for the direct traffic they bring in. Yet we can already see that they don’t carry quite what they used to in terms of SERPs and the adoption of this new democratic ranking technology will only further dilute their importance in gaining search engine traffic.