Google took some giant steps in search in 2011. Yes, algorithms changed and there were Panda updates that knocked some sites off the map, but there were some fun changes, too.
- Search by image at images.google.com: You can drop and drag an image into the search box, upload an image, copy and paste the url for an image or with the Chrome or Firefox extension right click an image to do an image search on Google.
- Voice search with Google Chrome: A built-in or attached microphone will be necessary, but then you can just say what you want to search for out loud.
- Social search results: In February, Google started mixing in social search results in the SERPs, based on their relevance.
- Faster search results: In June, Google launched Instant Pages. This is a feature that will help searchers get their results even faster. It works through pre-rendering technology built into Chrome. The Instant Page has zero load time. Right now Google reports using Instant Pages only when they are very confident in what the searcher desires in a website.
It is important to stay on top of what Google is doing. You might find an application that will save you time, make you look smart or help your business take-off.
Don’t let complacency kill your business. Track Google changes by following Matt Cutts’ blog. Follow local search trends by subscribing to David Mihm’s blog. The SEOmoz site can help you stay current on the search engine optimization climate.