Heralding a New Era in Search Engines
Google is known for reinventing things as the times change, and it has done so, yet again, with great repercussions for everyone who is involved in search engine optimization (SEO) and digital marketing in general. There are important changes taking place, in search, and many of them are largely unreported because of the technical nature of these changes. But that doesn’t mean they’re not going to change the Google landscape – they already are shaking things up.
A blog post from SeoExplode says that the first big change perhaps is the presence of Google Discover. Now Google Discover has been around for some time now, but what’s different now is that Google added this content discover service to the home page.
What’s it all about?
Google Discover makes content recommendations based on the user’s search engine history and behavior. Basically, it crunches numbers and takes into account what kind of content the user likes and crawls the Web for content that the user might like based on past behavior.
Google is essentially rebranding itself with this move and the major changes in the interface are: there are now topic headers that will segregate the different kinds of search results (so there is now more information segmentations), users are offered more image and video results, Google is now surfacing more relevant and evergreen content as opposed to content that has just been posted (this is called fresh content), a toggle that will allow the user to inform Google if he wants to see the same type of content in the future or not, and according to Google, the content presented by the Google Discover service will actually mirror the skill level and interest of the user with the topic in question.
Let’s take a step back and think about what Google has done with this newly revamped service: the search engine is actually giving its AI system more leeway with the user experience, and through trial and error (and user feedback), it will be fine-tuning the process of presenting user-centered content based on past behavior. To digital marketers, this means they have to be able to create content that is more user-centered than ever and evergreen at that so the search engine can recommend it to target users.
What Google Discover is doing isn’t actually new. Facebook has been doing it for a long time. In fact, Facebook (being more than just a social media platform; it’s also a search engine) has been personalizing content to help boost results for its advertisers. Google has also tweaked YouTube to produce curated content that fits the mold of past user behavior. But as to why it is bringing this level of personalization to Google just this year, we don’t know.
Digital marketers now have to think of ways to compete for traffic with the Google Discover service. You cannot possibly miss out on being headlined by the search engine because your content and website are that good.
What Google Discover brings to the table is the possibility of reaching customers who aren’t even keying in specific keywords. Imagine your content being featured simply because it’s perfect – based on what target users have been looking for in the past. Data becomes even more important because you can’t create a viable content plan without knowing what the market’s been looking at, historically speaking.
Voice assisted technology has been around for more than a decade now in Android devices, and obviously, Google will be prioritizing the development of Google Assistant for android devices. But what’s so special about it anyway? People have been talking to their phones for years now, right?
This is where we were wrong. Some years ago, people predicted that voice assisted technology will change the way people receive information. But as the AI gets smarter and smarter, and its technology more refined and more integrated with the comings and goings of the Web, here’s what we can expect in the coming years:
1. Google Assistant will be using human interaction more heavily to refine its searches and bring ever more relevant and specific results to users.
2. Google will be able to do more things for the user, like schedule or book appointments, events, set alarms, and many more – more like a real, human assistant.
3. Google account information can also be accessible via Google Assistant.
One of the key differences that will be differentiating Google Assistant from Google Now, which was its predecessor is its integration with other Google services like Google Express, which gives the Assistant added functionality. With this new integration, Assistant now will be able to add products to shopping carts for the user while he is shopping online. Google Duplex on the other hand, will make it possible for Assistant to book events and appointments for the user. Essentially what Google is doing is making the online experience more integrated than ever before.
What this really means for businesses is that as people become more reliant on technologies like Assistant, they will be less inclined to manually search for things on Google, and this means the kind of traffic that you would want from your business should be traffic that is coming directly from Google Assistant and its associated technologies. So it’s still Google, but through a hybrid technology.
In its 20th anniversary, Google made several declarations about the direction it would be heading in the near future. According to the search engine company, they would still be focusing on the following:
– Making sure that the informational needs of users are met.
– Focusing on giving the users the best and most high quality information available on the Web
– Refocusing on developing better algorithms to create even better results
– Making sure that all changes are tested to make sure that they meet objectives
The pillars of the ‘old Google’ will not be going away at all. Digital marketers and SEO companies are still advised to focus on the following:
– The user should continue to come first, because the user’s experience with the website will always be the barometer of success. Keeping users happy while using your website is an absolute must.
– Websites should strive to be as accurate as possible with the information they provide, and this means creating content that is relevant and engaging, too.
– Digital marketers should definitely have some basic knowledge of how search algorithms works, so that they can be competitive with the ever-changing landscape of search marketing.
– There are quality rating guidelines that digital marketers should follow to ensure that their content is at par with the search engine considers to be worthy content. As you can imagine, it’s all about content nowadays, and you lose nothing by giving users better content and by leveraging different kinds of assets to provide what users need.
The overall search experience is also shifting from “short bursts” of activity to journeys as Google now provides ‘cards’ to allow visitors to see where they left of the last time they did a search. This journey becomes long and longer as people sees better, evergreen content. These are just some of the things to think about as you plan ahead and create better content and experiences for your users.