Search engine optimisation may become less focused on keywords in the future, if the comments of one Google executive are anything to go by.

According to Marissa Mayer, vice-president of search products and user experience at Google, the search engine is looking at the possibility of returning results based on user questions rather than keywords.

She told .net magazine that this is one development that may become increasingly important over time, as will making web-based data easy to access from mobile phones.

Ms Mayer also pointed to the opportunities posed by utilising a user’s friend list to return highly relevant results.

"We really need to harness people’s friends better to understand which news to direct them to, which local events to direct them to … These are all things that we think are intriguing," she commented.

Last year, Google experimented with a new feature in its Google News service allowing users to create a local news section for their own city or zip code.

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