Search -- Out, Discovery -- In

In the mid '90s, webmasters started to optimize their site so that when a search engine had sent its "spider" to crawl the page, data would be properly extracted and visible to users proactively searching for it. That was SEO.

Better visibility on search engines meant more users landing on your website's content. More users landing on the website meant more revenue.

That discipline later evolved to also offer a paid option for getting users into your sites -- now considered one of the primary money makers for search engines.

15 years after, people still use search, true -- but not as much as they used to, and in my opinion, will barely do so in the future.

Why? People have no idea what they want to do next, so how can they search for it?

The world is transforming from actively pursuing to passively discovering. People might search for an article or a video, but then discovery vehicles will get the user to bounce from one piece of content to another. In fact, I'm not even sure that search will remain to be the anchor as it is today for people to land on the first article or video. As an example -- social channels are already getting massive momentum and users are spending more time on them (Facebook versus Google)



The biggest asset on the Web, in my opinion, is "owning" where users go. Today it's primarily Google through its search engine -- a very lucrative business indeed. In the not-so-far future, I think that discovery tools -- from social vehicles to recommendation engines spread all around the web content pages, offering people content they might like from the Web -- will win.

If that's true, the huge market of optimizing search and paying for it (SEO/SEM) will slowly transform into optimizing and paying for Discovery tools that own users' attention and help navigate them to the "best next thing."

I would call it discovery engine optimization (DEO).

3 comments about "Search -- Out, Discovery -- In ".
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  1. Adam Singolda from Taboola, October 7, 2011 at 4:38 p.m.

    Hi Paula: and thanks for the comment, and I relate to your concern.
    At a highlevel, I'd say it's better if neither Google or any discovery engine out there "really knows us".
    The vision of these companies is to be able to provide us with good content w/o us ever login in, or providing private information.
    If that can be done, it's might be a better place for all of us (only) if you believe there is too much information and too little time.
    Think about the experience you have when you open your TV at 7pm. 400 channels. What to watch? Seinfeld, a movie, or something you didn't even know existed.
    It's true that some vehicles know more about you (FB, FourSquare..) as you/me/us proactively choose to tell them.
    The rest need to be able to do a good job "guessing" what we want to do next, and give us some options to choose from.
    Hope this makes sense.

  2. Bruce May from Bizperity, October 10, 2011 at 1:37 p.m.

    Great insight Adam. This trend was not on my radar but I have to agree that I am using other sources more often and these usually fall into this "discovery" category. Wikipedia is an obvious example as are media sites, which obviously supports the idea that this will be a growing trend. I will be watching this more carefully now.

  3. Aleh Barysevich from Link-Assistant.Com, October 25, 2011 at 8:12 a.m.

    You have a point and I like the concept of discoverability. I think that social media serves the purpose quite well. Whether DEO is the new SEO is too early to tell, yet.

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