The Future of Search
Internet search has profoundly impacted the way we seek and consume information. Search provides answers with just enough information, just in time, when and wherever we need it. Search has evolved in extraordinary ways over the last 15 years.
The velocity of change in search has been accelerating recently. It can be overwhelming to process and understand what it means, both to consumers and businesses. The future of search is difficult to assess on an ongoing basis and feels like a rapidly moving target, which it clearly is.
For the last 5 years or more, the search market has been dominated by Google. In fact, Google has successfully maintained a 2/3 majority market share consistently during that period. Most industry experts expect Google dominance to continue into the foreseeable future.
Recent Google Search Changes and What it All Means to Consumers and Businesses
The most notable recent change is Hummingbird, a major rewrite of the Google core search program. Additional significant changes include Google Now, Secure Search and the impact of Not Provided, Deprecation of PageRank or at least, Toolbar PageRank, the Rise of Google+, and more.
Here to help us sort through what is behind all of these recent changes at Google and to share their expertise on where they see search going are
- Danny Sullivan, editor-in-chief of Search Engine Land, a blog that covers news and information about search engines, and search marketing,
- Eric Enge, president of Stone Temple Consulting, an SEO consultancy with offices in Massachusetts and California.
During this video Hangout on Air which I attended live on Halloween 2013 (Trick or Treat), Eric and Danny discuss the following aspects of Google Search and how they relate to the future of search, or at least as they relate to the future of Google Search:
- Google Hummingbird,
- Google Now,
- Knowledge Graph,
- Conversational Search,
- Predictive Search,
- Spoken Searches,
- Google Glass and some real world use cases (see Tweet below for reinforcing example)
- What it all means to marketers.
Here is an example of Danny taking a photo using Google Glass tweeted out earlier today, just a few hours ago.
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) November 10, 2013
Pretty cool. This reinforces that Google and other services can be accessed anywhere, at any time, handsfree! It reminds of childhood when we would hear someone yell “see Mom, no hands,” an expression used as kids rode their bikes handsfree for the first time.
Recommendations for Navigating the Future of Search
Here are some short form recommendations from Danny to Internet marketers on how they can best position their business and clients in the context of the future search:
- Focus on giving people the content they want and need while adding value,
- Take a long view strategy with content marketing as your marketing return is earned over time,
- The businesses being targeted by Google enhancements are those that are by and large void of any value add.
- To win in a sustainable way in the future with search, businesses will be required to add value consistently.
To make these concepts more real, included below is a video demonstration that ties a lot of these concepts together in the context of Google Voice Search, a feature that is front and center in driving the future of search.
Voice Search Revisited
Sometimes it helps to know what is possible as we don’t know what we don’t know. The following 10 minute video provides an excellent demonstration of the improved Google Voice Search. The video shows the execution of 35 voice queries, many of which may be news to you.
Summary of the Future of Search
Many users may not be aware that you can now check business hours, get nutritional facts, ask for traffic, create reminders or even go through your albums to find specific photos. Mobile access to search is a game changer. Wearables such as Google Glass are taking search and how we interface with it to a whole new level.
With Hummingbird, combined with Google Now, the Knowledge Graph and better natural language understanding, Google Search is becoming smarter, conversational and more useful with every update from Google. The demonstrations above illustrates many of the concepts covered by Danny and Eric.
As Google integrates more products like Gmail, Calendar, YouTube and Google+, its not hard to imagine how these services are starting to come together. A good examples of this is the YouTube commenting system being recently replaced by Google+ which is being rolled out now.
Other recent enhancements to Google Voice Search include improved speech recognition, better integration of voice commands, conversational search that remembers some context are some of the most notable enhancements.
Once marketers understand the context of how search is evolving and more importantly, how their target markets are embracing the changes, they will be in a better position to integrate these new search features into their online marketing programs.
Bonus Video – The future of search: Marcus Tandler at TEDxMünchen
Please share in the comments where you see the future of search going and what steps you are taking now to capitalize on.