Near the closing of 2009, there was a lot of hype swirling around the search engine industry.  The subject?  Google – The world’s most powerful and integrated search engine. The public had been privy to rumors of vast changes that were in motion for the search engine during the upcoming year. True to form, Google did not disappoint. The search engine actively restructured a multitude of its user interface features, tweeked their algorithms, and made some other notable improvements that solidified its continued dominance of the search engine market (nearly 70%!!!) for the upcoming year.

For starters, Google raised the bar on the requisites for navigation. They introduced Google Instant. Google’s search results have also begun to appear in real time, actively changing as text in the search bar is added or removed. The search engine has taken a greater interest in dates and time zones, sharpening the results even further for organic searches.

Even though Google decided to scrap plans to build an entirely new social network to compete with Facebook and Twitter, they certainly didn’t let it hold them back. Google Chrome achieved the rank of the fastest browser on the market, and with subsequent updates, is expected to reach speeds 60 times faster than the original model within the first half of 2011.

Though many of these changes seem gargantuan, the greatest changes to Google last year are arguably the little ones, the slight alterations to the user interface that helps speed up and hone each individual search while putting forth the image that Google has strived to achieve all these years: a minimalist, clean search engine with a wealth of possibilities.

The search tools have been moved to the left side of the screen, while an additional panel highlights the most relevant search results and possible refinements. New predictive search queries automatically bring up the most pertinent results with the advent of Google Instant.

Google also made a significant evolution to its local search algorithm. Google used to display top local search results that had optimized Google Places pages and a lot of web citations; now they have added a lot of weight to that businesses website as well. The product of this addition has been dubbed “hybrid” search results – results that are a mixture of local and organic origin.

With changes like these being implemented or planned every day, it’s difficult to keep up with Google’s ever shifting look and feel. For the uninformed user hoping to attain Google stardom on the front page, the trek is complex and confusing. It would take an SEO expert to effectively catapult an average business to the top of the list, and that’s when SEO marketing firms like Local Splash find their time to shine!