Battelle states something in this year's predictions that resonates with my thinking:
7. Traditional search results will deteriorate to the point that folks begin to question search's validity as a service. This does not mean people will stop using search - habits do not die that quickly and search will continue to have significant utility. But we are in the midst of a significant transition in search - as I've recently written, we are asking far more complicated questions of search, ones that search is simply not set up to answer. This incongruence is not really fair to blame on search, but so it goes. Add to this the problem of an entire ecosystem set up to game AdWords, and the table is set. Google will take most of the brand blame, but also do the most to address the issue in 2010.
The deterioration can happen in a number of ways.
- Relatively - as we ask more of search engines, the average quality of results will start to fall.
- Absolutely - as more sources are mixed in and relevance becomes a more and more complex (and in the case of Google, hand crafted) function of text, time, graph structure and so on, organic core search will start to crumble.
Personally, I think that the problem with search is that more and more niches will appear (are appearing) for which specialized elements are needed at all points (query understanding, static rank, relevance, etc.). The universal approach to search will become embattled.