Every once in awhile I like to browse through some other blogs in search of some interesting stuff. Today I found this post by SEO Black Hat talking about search engines evolving into the next phase of rankings. The proposal of this phase is tracking user behavior. I must say I completely agree. I think all the major search engines already know that the future of the serps lie in ranking sites based on how the users surf. I think that’s why they are so hell bent on producing popular toolbars. It just makes sense. However just like the search engines already know its never too early to plan for the future of search technology and how your site will perform.
So what is this going to do for SEO?
Lets break it down and its separate levels. First being of course the White Hat and moving on to the beginner Black Hat and then of course the advanced Black Hat. So lets take a quick trip down to pretend land shall we…
Page Breaks - Documents will be broken into multiple pages so people will have to go from page to page to get all the information. This will look good to the engines because it shows the user actually navigating the site on a single visit.
Bookmarks - More encouragement will be given to the users to bookmark their site. Multiple daily or weekly visits will become very important to the site owner. This will help them raise their return rates.
Framed Outbound Links - You see those sites that have the little frame at the top of all their outbound links? It gives the user one last chance to return back to their site where the water is warm and the girls are pretty. This will naturally appear like the user loves your site and can’t leave; even if to make a sandwhich.
Download Encouragement - Encourage your users to download Googles great new spying toolbar! People already do this to help their Alexa ranking. Why waste bandwidth on a user who doesn’t have the toolbars installed and thus don’t count?
Beginner Black Hat
Return Of The Popups - Buying popups on other sites will naturally become higher. Also producing doorway sites that display your site in a frame or something will cause the toolbars to naturally see your site as a much higher visitor rate.
Intermediate Black Hat
Forced Page Views - The main page will contain tons of hidden frames that display the other pages of the site. You want each visitor to appear like they are browsing to at least 4 other pages? Sure you got it on every visit. The toolbars will see nothing but huge conversions on your sites.
Returning Back Button - By doing a simple redirect on your landing page, it essentially makes the back button useless. They hit back it just brings you back to your site again. The user typically will figure out after a couple tries that they have to hit the arrow and go back two spaces, but in the mean time you just scored 3 returns on your main page; making your site look very good.
Promotion Circles - Convince 10,000 webmasters to join your autosurfer everyone raises in the rankings. This of course assumes the SE’s will filter for public proxies.
Advanced Black Hat
Pop Unders - People will eventually figure out how to make a tiny hidden popunder on their site. Hopefully the beginning user won’t see it and will leave it open over night after they leave the computer.
New Kinds of Spyware - Auto surfers will be loaded onto users computers. People who want to “SEO their site” will pay to put their sites’ pages into the rotation. While the user is sleeping, their computer sits there and browses the internet for them with of course all the toolbars secretly installed.
New Breed of E-mail Spam - Wanna raise your site in the serps in less than 24 hours? Just send out a blank email that loads a tiny version of your site to millions of people. It’s essentially a blank email so who’s to complain? Yet it makes your little spam site look like it’s larger than amazon.com.
API Calls - This is the obvious solution. Using Netstat or viewsource to find out what that toolbar or user tracking code is pulling and slam it like it’s the red headed step child.
Well that was a fun little brainstorm session in Make Believe Land. As inevitable as I think this is, I think the SE’s need to take some time to consider the move before they leap blindly into it because frankly User Behavior being used in the SERPS only makes my job all the easier