Posted by Sam Battin, Senior Natural Search Specialist
Remember 2010? The Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the Deepwater Horizon oil platform explosion, and the World Cup in South Africa?
During that amazing year, we here at Performics held a contest to see who could best visualize “The SERP of the Future.” Several groups created a variety of presentations to describe the Google search results page in the far-off future year of 2012.
Our SEO department created an entry, of course, and we thought it’d be interesting to go back to 2010 and see what we predicted for 2012. First, though, let’s look at the SERP Google was giving us in 2010:
Below is a close-up of the Google SERP left rail in 2010. Here, we see that default search controls included “Images” and “Videos.” A user could set a location from which to search (e.g. Australia), or click on “More search tools” to customize their results page:
Now, let’s take a look at the current Google SERP for 2012 using the term “Chicago Restaurants.” In the actual SERP, we see the sponsored ad box has been changed from a bright yellow to a lighter color, making ads harder to distinguish from regular results:
Dominating the Google SERP in 2012 are local results, along with a map on the right side that in this example points to local Chicago restaurants:
Google has added tabs at the top of the page allowing visitors to go directly to other Google properties like Youtube, Gmail, Google Documents, Google+, etc.:
The left rail is clutterless and icon-free; it employs descriptive links for users who want to customize their results:
Okay, so now that we know what features the real 2012 Google SERP has, let’s take a look at what Performics’ SEO department saw in their crystal ball for 2012:
We’re impressed with how similar our imagination was to what actually happened. For example, the picture below shows a detailed description of how we imagined the left rail contents in 2012. While we got the icons wrong, we did successfully predict a broad range of different search controls. We also thought there would be more integration with social media, e.g. seeing which pages your friends have visited, but Google still needs to work on that:
On the right rail where the sponsored ads are, we imagined that the ads would be interactive. In this example, someone looking for “Music” would see ads based on their musical search history and social media connections. Users could buy or sample media directly from the sponsored links:
Interestingly, we got the links at the top of the SERP almost correct; yes, we got the background color wrong (e.g. white instead of black), but we did successfully imagine Google would use this space to promote its other properties:
We also were right in guessing that Google would include more local results in the majority of searches. In the center of the SERP of 2012 we had Google include a map that showed local businesses related to the query. Again, we thought Google would present more social options than it currently does, to the point of showing you your friends’ current location. Google has not yet achieved this level of personalization, but local is taking over search and Google is including the map in a lot of different places:
Now, with all the predictions we got right, we’re not going to run around claiming we’re a bunch of time travelers or anything like that. However, we will strongly advise you to prepare for a gremlin invasion in the year 2016.