This article talks about a massive overhaul: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 … TopStories
What's this mean for HubPages traffic?
I saw this as well and wondered the same thing. It sounds like some major changes are coming.
"For a more complex question such as, "What are the 10 largest lakes in California?" Google might provide the answer instead of just links to other sites."
Your post was an excellent heads-up about the soon-to-be future. Because of it, I am immediately changing my writing tactics. A sincere Thank You!
Could this be why Hubpages are making the change regarding questions moving to our subdomains?
The changes that Google are discussing are exactly the sort of thing that would take traffic away from all the simple questions asked on this site. Which casts a big doubt on the future potential of such an area to make advertising money.
Ahhh..so they will have their own answers at the top of the page, not answers from a website such as this.
Oh well, I have no traffic for them to take away so I guess it won't affect me.
That's the plus side of being in the sandbox, they can't hurt me any further.
This is actually a really exciting subject, although it's worrying for us who are trying to earn a living through online publishing. I've been writing about semantic search and how to prepare for it for a couple years. It's been a long time in reaching public attention, although Google's been doing it at least since 2009.
Unfortunately, Semantic Search will cut down on some kinds of web traffic. Google posts answers gleaned from websites at the top of its search results, obviating the need for people to click on links to get answers. For example, try asking it the height of the Empire State Building. For nearly 2 years, Google's given you an answer. Ditto weather, sports scores, and other easy-to-measure answers. People are less likely to click links once they've got an answer to quick questions.
In preparation for semantic search, there has been a push in the last several years to create structured content, explicitly tagging parts of webpages as names, titles, email addresses, prices, and so on, to make things easier for Semantic Search. Hubpages and article publishing sites can't be part of this data-tagging gravy (although I do wish HP would at least get rel=author set up properly, since that's one of the basics.) It's hard to implement on a site you don't own.
But I think we'll be okay, despite the current "metadata" tagging craze. The true goal of semantic search is to create intelligent enough algorithms that search engines won't need explicit, embedded tags to figure out, for example, that (xxx) xxx-xxxx is a phone number. We're going to be in better shape as this goal begins to become a reality, since it won't require us to do anything to our content other than be specific. Semantic search is why I've been harping on using specific, concrete language whenever possible in our articles. If we use clusters of vocabulary related to our topic, intelligent algorithms will be able to identify what we're talking about.
Siri is an example of a semantic search algorithm. There have been others. Wolfram Alpha has been out for a few years now as an alternative to normal search engines.
While "quick answer" questions will send less traffic to our pages, some things, like product reviews and how tos, are not reducible to quick answers. People will still want to know why and how, not just who and what. So we'll still see search traffic. Hopefully the ever-increasing number of people using the web will help offset semantic search traffic losses.
Thanks for the thorough overview, Greekgeek. The more I think about it, the more I feel like this isn't going to be such a bad thing. Traffic may get shuffled around, but as long as our hubs don't focus on something with a definitive answer, such as there would be for "What are the 10 largest lakes in Michigan?", I think we'll be fine. Some people may have to reorganize how they do things, but I think most of us will be fine, as long as we also use very specific writing in our hubs.
My thoughts are that 'semantic search' is going to benefit the good writers. It seems that the algorithm should be looking for 'depth' so all those sites clogging the top of Google with no information should disappear and those quality articles that are well written and contain quality information should rank higher - well that's the theory at least!
Either we're the only ones who read that or everyone else's head exploded thinking about it. I think this is gonna be a bigger shakeup than Panda.
I agree Max...I get a WSJ email with headlines every day which is why I saw it. I really don't have a good feel for how I might alter my writing based upon this news.
paradigmsearch - what are you planning to do differently?
Actually this has already come up in at least one other forum here.
What's really annoying is - if Google is going to display facts at the top of search results, where is it going to get those facts from? No matter where they've gathered that information from - whether it's an encyclopedia, Wikipedia, online articles - they're depriving their original source of traffic.
I think this will have a huge impact on everyone. For most successful online writers, 90% of their traffic comes from Google, and it's virtually all from people who are looking for answers to a problem or question. Whether it's how to do something, or why something happens, or whatever - there's usually a short answer and a long answer. I always try to give the long, detailed answer - but if Google gives them the short answer, many people will settle for that and never bother to check the other search results to get the full story.
It's difficult to know what this change is going to look like.
As an internet user and human being, I am very concerned that Google want to emulate Facebook's databse of users and use it for commercial as well as search purposes.
I am also concerned generally about Google using their search engine in more and more commercial ways to fill their own pockets. The appeal of Google initially was that it had such a simple layout. I hope they aren't going to make everything too complex with adverts everywhere. Google search engine has to remain neutral.
Of course, how the changes might affect hubbers is another question. It seems difficult to predict, given our limited information. I am concerned, however.
It's definitely interesting. It's equally peculiar that only 10 to 20% of searches will be affected by this. I think 10 to 20% of search results will be affected, it sounds like the bigger impact will be felt when people stop at the initial info presented by Google and never make it to the search results.
This might be partially to do with Siri. Siri allows iPhone users to bypass Google and come up with answers to questions. There is at least one web based service around (forget the name)which tries to answer questions directly and might also have worried Google.
Whatever the reason for the change, it looks like simple facts are going to become the province of Google and article writers are going to have to write articles full of insight, analysis and compelling prose.
I just want an easy life and my money every month.
I see this affecting long-term article writers more than new ones. Because basic queries already have many powerful, optimized articles attached to them, I never bothered to write such articles.
So, the person that's had their article answering common queries ranked highly for years, could see traffic dwindle to a trickle for the same article after the changes. Because the user would already have their answer from Google and wouldn't need to look any further.
Let's hope that the big G gets all their answers correct then!
This particular iteration is just the beginning. Longer term, semantic search destroys keyword research.
I wonder how that will effect sites like yahoo answers and answers.com, ask.com and similar answer sites.
Since Panda began, I have had the worst time finding relevant research results on a host of topics. Google let a lot of aggregators and content farms dominate the pages. Now, it's getting better.
So do we start putting the facts in the first paragraph and forget writing traditional introductions? (That's what I've been working on, anyway.)
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