Some will already have noticed that Google searches often seem to try to ‘pre-empt’ our intentions when searching. For instance, if you are trying to do a global search, Google often insists on giving geographic results based on your IP. This can be irritating to say the least if you a) need results from a country other than the one you are logging in from or b) when you are in a foreign country and Google insists on sending you to that country’s version of Google rather than your home nation, or the URL for a country specific Google engine that you have entered.
Additionally, Google will often try to second guess whether you are researching or planning to shop, and deliver results based on that assumption. If Google second guesses wrong, you will get results that do not necessarily apply to your search, and it can be hard to break away from that assumption to find the right results.
There is more of this to come. Google are looking to apply more intent based searching, as well as more geographic and geotargeted search, and whilst this may be a good thing in many instances, it could also lead to a growing resentment that a computer (Google owned or otherwise) thinks it knows better than we do.
However, it may mean that it slowly educates users to search more accurately, and that SEO adapts to ensure that the relevant results are delivered to those seeking answers or products and services. We will have to wait and see, but I think 2009 will see a certain disenchantment with these developments amonst users of the search engines, whilst on the other hand driving phenomenal amounts of traffic to those who capitalise early on the changes.