By Chris Crum

This time of year everybody likes to start making predictions about where industries are heading. This is especially true in the search industry. My guess is that we will see quite a few pieces this month regarding where search is going in 2010. These can make for entertaining reads and get the mind going with regards to how we are going to have to plan for an ever-changing future of search engine marketing.

When Google itself comes out with predictions for where search is headed, things get even more interesting. This is obviously because Google is such a huge and critical part of the search landscape. Google's Matt Cutts discussed some of his own predictions for search in a recent upload to Google's Webmaster Central YouTube channel.

One thing Matt stressed is that Google is always looking for new types of data to search. He gave examples of searching email with Gmail, books with Google Book Search, and patents with Google Patent search. He predicts Google will continue this trend and find more data sources to provide search functionality for.

Another prediction he gave was that Google will continue to improve search over harder problems. Specifically, he noted things like determining what is really going on with the words in documents and in queries - semantic search if you will.

"A lot of people think that if you type in 'A B C,' all Google does is crawl the web and return pages that match 'A,' 'B,' and 'C'. And that's not it," says Cutts. "We do a lot of sophisticated stuff. Think about synonyms, morphology...all sorts of ways where we can kind of find out, 'oh, this is really related to them conceptually.' Whether you want to call it semantic stuff or statistical processing, we do a lot of stuff to try and return relevant documents."

As part of this prediction, Cutts says Google will continue trying to find new ways to extract "good data" from the web. He mentions Google Squared (which is still in an experimental stage)  as an example of doing so. Google Squared, in Google's words, takes a category and creates a starter 'square' of information, automatically fetching and organizing facts from across the web.

Google Squared  - Planets

Cutts also predicts that people will get more comfortable with storing their data in the cloud. He expects more people will migrate their data from their hard drives to different cloud services, and that this will make it easier and better for search, and contribute to the delivery of more relevant results.

He also mentions real-time and mobile as playing significant roles in the future or search. No surprise there.

"It's going to be a lot of fun. Search is nowhere near done, and every time we make search better, people ask us harder and harder questions, " he says. "So the nice thing is knowing that we'll pretty much always have more to do to make search better."

Cutts recently discussed the possibility that page speed could play a role in search engine rankings. He made no mention of this in this set of predictions, but that is another thing to consider as we get ready to move into 2010.