Are You Ready for Web 3.0?

Back when I lived in Wyoming one of my favorite events was the weekly trip to the feed mill. Saturday morning found it filled with farmers and ranchers, and we’d all stand around in our weathered cowboy hats and scuffed boots with our big pickups growling in the lot. We’d talk what was going on in our world, what had happened with the weather, livestock prices, politics that affected the agricultural livelihood. And most of all what was going to happen next season.

Here in Phoenix we have a similar gathering, but now I’m surrounded by fellow geeks from Intel, GoDaddy, Cable One and other internet companies. The other day we were sitting at lunch talking net trash and got on the subject of Web 2.0. What was it – really? When did it make it’s true appearance? What was in store for the coming year in Web 2.0 land?

In the corner one of the quietest members of our little group said, “Who cares about Web 2.0 – Web 3.0 is almost here.” There was a dead silence then we all started firing questions at him.

By the end of our luncheon we’d pretty well defined Web 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0. Here’s what we came up with.

Back in the early days of the net website provided information. You couldn’t add comments, you had little interaction. Marketing was limited to banner ads for the most part. You went to a site, digested information, and moved on.

Along came Web 2.0. Ah now we have social networks, Facebook, Twitter, every site seems to have user reviews, comments, user generated content. Social media has taken over the net in a big way. Connecting with people is the focus of vast amounts of time spent online.Ready for Web 3.0 search and marketing?

Web 3.0 will become a virtual world. There is (and has been for many years) software that will allow you to “walk” into an online store and browse the shelves. Search engines will be smarter. For all my tongue in cheek poking at Google Instant, it IS the forerunner of what will be. What it is now may only be the first baby steps, but what it will become is a very important part of Web 3.0.

Our little group concluded that Smart Search will be the backbone of Web 3.0.  No longer will you conduct separate searches for airline tickets and local dining places in the destination city. You’ll have everything you would be looking for in that destination area on one page of results. Those results would be determined by your search patterns and online shopping habits. You might have burger joints and sports equipment stores on your page, while I might have Chinese restaurants and computer stores on mine.

Look at the subtle changes at Google as they prepare for Web 3.0. Google Places are the first thing you see for many search terms. What you see is way different than what I see unless you’re secretly living around the block from me. Google has an ENORMOUS amount of data on your own personal search and surfing habits. The results I get back for a term are very likely not the same as the ones you get back, because my location and my habits are different than yours.

Google already returns some results from my “friends” and contacts. While these are currently shown at the bottom of the page, as my network grows and Google evolves, I’m pretty sure they won’t stay at the bottom for long. Those articles, websites and comments from my friends and contacts will end up right under Google Maps I’m betting.

Evolution, even in net time, is not an explosive event. Changes are ushered in quietly, with baby steps until all of a sudden we realize we are looking at something that is operating in new way – the next iteration of the web.

Those changes are upon us, we just haven’t seen the end result – yet. Google Instant is merely a harbinger of what’s to come – highly personalized, incredibly relevant search results that eliminate the need for sifting through massive amounts of irrelevant search results. (Hear that spammers? Your days are numbered!)

This is the Holy Grail for Google – delivering the most relevant, useful content to each user as quickly as possible. It’s the path they have been on since the first day Sergey 1 and 2 moved out of their garage.

Are you ready? Is your site ready? Is your marketing and SEO team ready? The net isn’t built on the “Big Bang” theory, it’s more like the “Big Burp” evolution. There is a progression towards a defining moment, a “Burp” in the landscape that quickly separates the winners from the losers as the “new” technology is embraced by those billions of netizens.

So fasten your seatbelts, the next “Big Burp” is coming.

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