Search is changing

There are some important changes happening at Google and ironically, the future of search is looking like it will involve less search.

Google Discover

Google Discover is the updated version of Google feed which was introduced in December 2016. Discover is available on mobiles and was added to the Google homepage in October 2018. The feature recommends content to users based on their search history and behaviour. Along with a new name, Google added some new features to Google Discover when it was launched:

  • Topic headers were added to explain why you are seeing a card and gives you the ability to find out more on that topic.
  • More images and fresh visual content
  • Articles and videos were added which weren’t new to the web but were new to the user
  • More control over what content you see

This isn’t something new. Social media sites have been recommending content to users for years. YouTube’s recommendation engine is responsible for 70% of the time spent on the site. This does show that people are interested in the feature and will likely shape how users use Google. It is important then that SEOs have tactics as part of their strategies to get their content on there. If companies can take advantage of Discover, they will be able to reach potential customers who are interested but not at the stage of searching for the relevant terms. Therefore, speeding up the process to conversion.

Voice Search

Google Assistant and other voice assistants are becoming more popular among users. Voice search is changing SEO as users are able to engage in conversations with the assistant to find their answers without the need for a search result. It is predicted that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice searches. With new features regularly added to Google Assistant, from games to shopping, the more users will use the assistant and rely less on search results.

Google confirms new direction

Google celebrated its 20th-anniversary last year and announced their plans to improve search for the next 20 years. Whilst Google has changed a lot since they began, there are four core principles that have stayed the same throughout:

  • Focus on the user
  • Provide the most relevant, highest quality information as quickly as possible
  • Provide search effectively through an algorithmic approach
  • Rigorously test every change

However, over the next 20 years, Google will also be focusing on three fundamental shifts:

The shift from answers to journeys

Google will be focusing on allowing users to pick up where they left off. They understand that many searches can now carry on over several days and have introduced features that help them with this including:

  • Activity cards which feature relevant pages and queries you’ve done already on a topic you are searching for
  • The ability to add content you’ve already visited in Collections
  • Tabs with the most common and relevant subtopics to what you are searching for

The shift from queries to queryless ways to get information

Google will also be focusing on how they show users relevant information without the user searching for it. This is where Google Discover comes in which we mentioned earlier.

The shift from text to visuals

Finally, Google will be focusing on how they can represent their results to the user more easily with more visual content. This includes a complete redesign of Google Images as well as new features including:

  • Showing AMP stories in Google Images and Discover as well as using AI to create stories in Search. The format will offer users a different way to find out information with video compilations and text.
  • Featured videos have been added to Search which will show the most relevant videos to the topic you are searching.
  • Google Images has not only had a redesign but has also been updated. Google will now prioritise images that have a page connected that is relevant to the topic as well as pages that have been updated recently. Websites that have the image central to their page will also be prioritised. Captions and related search terms have also been added.
  • Google Lens has also been introduced to help users find out more information about their surroundings through their camera.
Written by: Thomas Coughlan
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