“In the future, you would not need a search query.
Information would come to you just when you need it.”
– Sergey Brin, Google (Alphabet Inc).
If this statement from Sergey is what the future is, then we need to really work hard in the present. Search would be evolving rapidly and SEO’s would have no choice but to keep pace with technology advancements.
The future of search can be summarized in two words – “personalization” and “context”
Personalization : The evolving ability of Search engines to deliver personal results based on previous consumer choices (or search history), multiple device usage & adoption, personal preferences of individuals
Context : Delivering search results in context to the current environment in which the user is searching i.e. Searching while commuting, Searching from a mobile phone or Searching while at home watching TV.
When Search engines would perfect the art of combining explicit search results with implicit aspects (such as user location), we would definitely see magic. Google is already on the path of creating this magic with Google Now installed on Android phones and Google Cards that show up as answers for specific search queries.
With “Personalization” & “Context” as the two key focus areas for Search Engines, here are 5 recommendations that I have for SEO’s, Brand Managers / Digital Marketing Managers:
A) Semantic Web is back (was it ever gone?) – More than ever, Google is rewarding Webmasters that use Schema definitions to describe the data on their websites.
Some of the structuured snippet codes are available for:
- Site Navigation
- Local Business
- Products & Offer (Ecommerce)
- Article (for Blogs)
B) Use of Analytics data to predict user needs : Although Google has stopped giving keyword data, there are some nifty data points that Google Analytics provides.
Looking at geo-location reports as well as the newer demographics and interests reports can help you identify high-level consumer types with age and gender analysis or interest-based reports. These can provide invaluable insights into your consumer targets, which in turn is essential to develop highly targeted content specific to your audience before they even knew they were going to need or want it.
C) Third, focus on Mobile first strategy. One of the essential elements of your mobile strategy should be to index your Mobile App.
- Mobile-friendly websites would be seen higher in search results
- Relevant content within Apps would be shown in search results.
Why is Google wanting us to index our mobile apps? Two reasons:
Relevancy of Search Results: By pulling results from within an app, Google is widening the indexing net. This means that more contextually relevant search results are likely to be available for users
Higher Engagement & Content / App discovery: Google has expanded app indexing to include results from apps that are not installed on your phone. Which means that users will engage with apps more than earlier, the engagement being triggered by mobile searches.
D) Enable cross-platform user engagement : It is imperative in today’s mobile first world to have a cross-device strategy.
There are four cogs in this user-centric approach
- Create mobile sites with appropriate user agent detection and redirection
- Serve dynamic content serving depending on device/screen size
- Responsive design of websites
- Mobile-specific content and local optimization
E) Optimizing content for Voice Search
Google’s Hummingbird update is designed to interpret naturally phrased search queries such as “Where can I get my car serviced?” More than 100 million people already have the Google Voice Search app installed on their mobile phones. With mobile queries have a strong local search intent (40-60%), one can use this two-pronged approach to optimizing content for voice search:
- Find out what questions your target audience is asking and create content that answers them.
- Consider adding a Q&A service to your site that allows users to ask questions to which you later post answers. For e.g. create blog posts / pages on your website that would answer certain “how to” related questions for your industry
So, what would be your Key Takeaways for the Future of Search?