David Amerland

What is Web 2.5 and how is it going to affect your SEO efforts?

If you are new to the concept of Web 2.0 then Web 2.5 is going to seem like a step too far so there is a need here to recap, briefly and explain just what is going on. When the term Web 2.0 came on the scene as a marketing ploy which was too good a soundbite not to use, at a Web Summit conference in 2005, there was no agreement on what it meant or if there was, even, a Web 1.0 concept.


The web, of course, is evolutionary in nature and capabilities and it makes sense to think of it as versions so it would appear moot to wonder whether there is any sense or not in giving it version numbers. The very fact that this has become widespread in marketing terms means that now the term has acquired a meaning and has become a means of pushing further development.


In view of this Web 1.0 was a passive repository of information. Think of it like a library. In the early days of the web information existed to be accessed but was hard to find and once you did find it all you could so was consume it.


What Web 2.0 stands for is interactivity. Suddenly web platforms started to change from passive to interactive. They allowed users to leave comments. Vote for files or pages, access download material, create accounts and limited online profiles. If Web 1.0 was the establishment of websites and online platforms of information, Web 2.0 was the opening up of the doors of the library and the moment the crowd were allowed in.


This has led to the development of interactive web platforms which allowed the visitor to either contribute to their content in a limited way or leave a trace of their presence there. Web 2.0 was a much friendlier place which led to more online visitor interaction which, in turn, led to more interactive platforms and before you knew it, it was being transformed into the place we all hang out in after work and before sleep.


Web 2.0 started out as interaction. Its defining characteristic (if it could be said to have a single one) was the fact that suddenly capabilities were being added to websites and online presences so that slowly a degree of personalization started to take place. Online users also started to add information as well as retrieve it. Blogs, comments, forum posts, videos and audio files, all played a part in this.


During all this change search engine optimization (SEO) remained an arcane science, little understood by many. Webmasters thought that it was the work of web designers to know it, web designers thought it was something which coders should do, coders did not know who to turn to and hardly anyone really understood what search engine optimizers did.


The reliance on search engines to find information however, itself a significant characteristic of Web 2.0 development, led to an increase in the visibility of search engine optimization (SEO) and those who practice it and a clearer understanding of its importance.


The Web 2.5 era is upon us. Web platforms have become more and more interactive, the social web and the real time web are now part of our daily routine and information is collaborative in the sense that it is used, created, consumed and spread through a complex online social web model which mirrors the complexity and interactions which happen in the offline world.


In terms of SEO and the visibility of your website you understand that the web is now so crowded and so large that to have a web presence without a coherent SEO Strategy in place is akin to driving with one arm tied behind your back. It can be done but it is less than ideal and may contribute to a crash more than get you to your destination.


Web 2.5 is the next natural step towards using the collective information we have created and its main aim is deep interaction and the ability to harness intelligence. On-site search engines and subscription tools, Google alerts and a more sensitive search plus the immediacy of the real-time web characterize a stage of web development where SEO in terms of optimizing a website is no longer enough.


It is pointless, for instance, to have your website optimized to the gills and appearing high on search engines when your target customers are to be found mostly in a number of social network sites and have little extra time to use search engines to look for our website. And it is pointless to think about on-page SEO when you also need to have multiple presences on the web in terms of Facebook, Twitter, articles, PRs and profile pages elsewhere.


In the era of Web 2.5 the choices are simple: increase your site’s interactivity, increase its online presence and learn to fish where the fish are. The days of customers coming to you are simply gone.

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