E-bay has bought StumbleUpon, the toolbar that helps you stumble across other sites users have recommended.
The Wall Street Journal had this to say about StumbleUpon:
“Next time you want to wander the Web, forget about Googling it. Stumble it“
I bring that quote up, because it describes a trend that’s been emerging in search for some time, and becoming more obvious of late.
The search world is changing.
Clearly, Google haven’t been asleep. For starters, they were rumored to be one of the bidders:
“Google, AOL and eBay as potential suitors. A source with knowledge of the deal now says the company has signed a term sheet with eBay to be acquired. The price is somewhere between $40 – $75 million“
And no sooner has Ebay announced the acquisition, Google integrates something remarkably similar to StumbleUpon into their toolbar. You can add a button, featuring a pair of dice, which, when clicked, recommends sites you might like, based on your search history.
Search has been about pulling results based on your request. Increasingly, it’s about pushing results to you, based on your past actions and preferences.
Community and personalization aspects are being integrated deep into search. Eric Schmidt stated that a lot of the value of YouTube to Google is that YouTube is not just a video sharing site, it is also a search function.
YouTube is also a place – a community. Those aspects won’t be lost on Google.
And where you have community on the web, you have ways to measure, and draw meaning from, human interaction. The aspect of community interaction is not something that has featured heavily in search engines in the past, apart from PageRank/citation (which is now looking increasingly clumsy), but it will surely do so going forward.
What does this trend mean to search marketers?
Google has always been a popularity engine, and aquisitions of these types are about measuring what is, and isn’t, popular amongst crowds.
Search marketing, and SEO in particular, has always been about being popular. Or, feigning popularity. If community metrics are going to become a bigger part of search, the skillset required will focus a lot more on the “M” in SEM.