Google was first to market a desktop search utility. Well, actually, others were first, but Google’s the one everyone noticed. That matters.
The tool is surprisingly good. I installed it and instantly became fascinated with the marketing implications. Desktop search will eventually increase the volume of Web searches without requiring an increase in Internet users. This profoundly benefits search engine marketing (SEM).
Google’s desktop search is so good it will change the way I use my computer. In time, it will change the way everyone uses her computer. Desktop search is a trend worth watching.
PC users will opt to use desktop search, as opposed to directory navigation, and kids just starting to use computers will be taught to use desktop search from the outset. The utility will lead to more search hours per computer user. That will lead to more sophisticated searchers, spawning mega trends that will ultimately affect SEM.
Quality Desktop Search Will Grow Multiphrase Searches
I’m surprised at how many people still search the Web using single- and two-word phrases. Though research continually shows multiword searches are growing in popularity, one- and two-word searches still drive a surprising amount of traffic to our clients’ sites. I’m convinced a majority of people who still search use single-word queries are either new to Internet search or searching single-word brand names.
Prediction: Desktop search will quickly replace hard-drive directory navigation. This will lead to more search hours for the average computer user, never mind the Internet user. As search hours and search experience increase, more searchers will use longer search phrases when they use a major search engine. That has significant SEM implications:
Natural Search Result Rankings More Important
If you downloaded Google’s desktop search utility, you’ll notice results from every search you perform on Google (not just with the tool itself) is topped with content found on your hard drive -- including links to sites you previously visited using Internet Explorer.
So long as your Web cache is searched and included in search results, any site you visit can appear on top of natural search results, and not just when you search your hard drive. Previously viewed sites (perhaps found during an earlier search) are displayed above the actual organic search results. Any Web page you previously visited is accorded a top ranking, without having to earn it by appealing to Google’s algorithm.
In much the same way Google and other search engines preempt search results with local content, shopping results, and relevant news (what Danny Sullivan calls content from "invisible tabs"), Google Desktop Search will preempt Web search results with any content, files, or previously visited Web sites still in the user’s cache, above the natural search results (unless that option is deselected, which it usually won’t be). Search engine watchers consider this a type of personalized search result. The ranking and marketing implications are extremely significant.
Predication: Companies that achieve top rankings will gain rapidly accelerating momentum. Cached pages beat high-ranking pages. The longer people use a desktop search utility, the bigger their stored page cache grows. Some implications:
Search is headed to the desktop. It’s intuitive. Use Google Desktop Search once, and you’re a believer. I first predicted Google would launch a desktop search interface back in September 2003. It needs the utility to compete with Microsoft, which is likely to integrate search into Longhorn, the long-awaited new operating system.
At the time, I didn’t realize how good desktop search could be, nor how important a development it would become in the search engine wars. At that time, I thought it would a purely defensive move. Now, I believe it will be one of the most important developments in the search engine wars.
For search engines, the stakes are high. He who owns the desktop will eventually own the searcher.
Microsoft could still have a trick or two up its sleeve, like changing the file structure in a way that would make any third-party tool incapable of searching the hard drive. So stay tuned.
If you haven’t downloaded Google Desktop Search, it’s time to. Take a peek at the future of SEM.
Want more search information? ClickZ SEM Archives contain all our search columns, organized by topic.
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Fredrick Marckini is the founder and CEO of iProspect. Established in 1996 as the nation's first SEM-only firm, iProspect provides services that maximize online sales and marketing ROI through natural SEO, PPC advertising management, paid inclusion management, and Web analytics services.
Fredrick is recognized as a leading expert in the field of SEM and has authored three of the SEM industry's most respected books: "Secrets To Achieving Top-10 Positions" (1997), "Achieving Top-10 Rankings in Internet Search Engines" (1998), and "Search Engine Positioning" (2001, considered by most to be the industry bible). Considered a pioneer of SEM, Frederick was named to the Top 100 Marketers 2005 list from "BtoB Magazine."
Fredrick is a frequent speaker at industry conferences around the country, including Search Engine Strategies, ad:tech, Frost & Sullivan, and the eMarketing Association. In addition to ClickZ columns, He has written bylined articles for Search Engine Watch, "BtoB Magazine," "CMO Magazine," and numerous other publications. He has been interviewed and profiled in a variety of media outlets, including "The Wall Street Journal," "BusinessWeek," "The New York Times," "The Washington Post," "Financial Times," "Investor's Business Daily," "Internet Retailer," and National Public Radio.
Fredrick serves on the board for the Ad Club of Boston and was a founding board member of the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO). He earned a bachelor's degree from Franciscan University in Ohio.
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