TechCrunch's Michael Arrington recently published a http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/08/31/google-ceo-eric-schmidt-interview-h... target=" href="http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/08/31/google-ceo-eric-schmidt-interview-h... target=" _blank"="">two part interview with Google CEO Eric Schmidt in which Schmidt discussed, among other topics, the future of search technology. To summarize, Schmidt feels that search (specifically, Google) will continue to develop until it is able to definitively answer the user's search query and eliminate any need to go to another site. Search Today If you perform a search in Google today, you will be given a list of sites where you might find the answer to your question. While Google does an increasingly good job at this, the fact remains that finding the answer to your question is at least a two-step process: 1) Search, and 2) Select Relevant Result. Schmidt envisions a future in which Google will find content, digest it, and return a singular answer to the user's query that will, in an ideal world, be correct 100% of the time. These major changes certainly won't occur overnight. Rather, Google and other search engines will gradually move in this direction over the next several years. Schmidt himself mentioned a time span of 10 years. Microsoft's Bing has already taken a step in this direction with the introduction of page previews that pop up in the right column of the search results page. This preview displays prominent text from the page in question. bing-resultsQuick Preview from Bing The Future of SEO What does this mean for the future of SEO? It's fairly safe to say that as search engines take over more of the searching experience, optimizing your site for search engines will become more important, not less so. However, the important aspects of search engine optimization, and what will make a site optimized for search engines, can and likely will change. While even now it is important to make your site "readable" by search engines, in the future this will become even more critical, as search engines like Google will look for answers on your site and deliver them directly to the searcher. And in a future where Google makes infallible decisions, the only way to "optimize" your business will be to be the best possible fit for the user. What's the Point? Search engines like Google are getting smarter, not less so. This means that they will be less and less likely to be "tricked" into ranking a page undeservedly high in their search results. SEO will become less of a game, and more about consistently providing a quality experience for your customers. We have already witnessed this change. Several years ago, for instance, link building meant trading links and link directories. Today, there is a much greater emphasis placed in the SEO world on high quality content and social media participation. The point, then, is that choosing quality content and a rewarding experience over SEO tricks will pay dividends now and in the future.

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