The Search Industry’s major players – Google, Bing, and Yahoo – normally adjust the key metrics they use to determine the position of competitive search results every few years. Recently, more attention is being placed on social signals coming from popular sources such as Twitter and Facebook. Clickstream data has been employed by Google and Bing to a lesser extent as a data point.
Looking ahead, new trends on the horizon show trends toward different groups of metrics. Three of the metrics deserve some analysis. Those metrics are brand signals, entity associations, and trusted user behavior.
Brand Signals -:
It has been known for some time that Google search results can be manipulated, misled, and downright scammed. It took the JC Penny story hitting the press to cause Google to finally take punitive action. Even though it is very likely that Google new of the abuse, they had wanted to solve the problem algorithmically.
A normal search for something like blue Nike shoes will bring up pages of results of vendors who do not even offer what you are looking for. The problem is so many generic listings get in the way of brand sites. Generic sites may only have a distant affiliation to a major brand and can produce frustrated searches.
Google believes that they will solve the problem by moving the major brands above the generics to produce more satisfied searchers. Brand sites are characterized by the following elements: employees, company social pages; specific contact info; advertise and marketing offline; and have a physical (office) presence. Generics are basically the opposite because they: have no employees; do not have a social page presence; have poor contact info; do not employ offline marketing or advertising; and, have to physical presence. Making these vital distinctions will change brand metrics for the better.
Entity Associations -:
In the past, search engine relied heavily on a classic universal algorithm that did not have massive swings between verticals. Entities such as a movie name, actor, or sports figure provide a new metric that will shake up search engine rankings.
Looking at entity association signals is a totally different metric than merely looking at brands. There may still be bias toward major established names and players, but a better search result is what this metric is all about. Movement toward the entity association metric cannot be denied and as proof no one has to look beyond Google’s new purchase of Metaweb.
Trusted User Behavior -:
Utilizing trusted user behavior metrics is a huge change from the pure algorithm driven metrics of the past. The old metric is just too open to manipulation and improper leverage. Both Bing and Google are moving towards using panels of search quality reviewers to look at search data results.
Clickstream data is being analyzed more and more. What is going on is more use of human quality raters looking at user-based information. The end goal of this new metric is, again, better quality search results for searchers.