The Evolution of Search

The number of Google searches carried out globally on mobile platforms has overtaken searches on the desktop. Going mobile means more voice search, location based search and more visual search, enabling a much more personalised experience.

Traditional search engines are being replaced by apps offering personal assistance based on anticipating needs and notifying the user through reminders. One such personal digital assistant, Google Now, provides notifications tailored to the user and context, including location and time of day, to anticipate future needs and searches. It has an uncanny ability to tell you whether your journey home from work might be delayed, or the results of a match your favourite team is playing.

Google Now can also provide you with a shopping list when you are in particular shop, and then remember where you are parked afterwards. Not only that, but it can also integrate with your social media platforms such as Facebook. The reality is that search in the future won’t be solely based on a keyword input but will incorporate a series of data points based on your interactions and journeys, both off- and on-line. Similar services are coming soon or are here from Bing, Facebook, and others, but Google has stolen the march on its competitors.

In a separate development, Google is testing providing results in their search results from apps regardless of whether the searcher has the app or not. Previously online content providers had to match website and app content in order to be indexed by Google; this latest development means this will be no longer the case. Google streams a virtual version of the mobile app, meaning the app does not have to be installed on your phone. This technology comes from a start-up called Agawi that Google acquired in 2014. It is currently in beta at the moment in the US but watch this space.

This kind of personalisation and technology advancement can only be a good thing as it will make sure the right messages are served at the most relevant time and place. The real push now is making it more convenient for users, and smartphones are the catalyst in the move away from the traditional search model.

In order to fully leverage this opportunity you need to make sure your brand is visible to as many search technologies as possible. Brands driven by search strategies, for example HE institutions, will face new challenges in making sure they are seen. It may seem more complex then ever to successfully cut through search, but it is all about putting the customer needs at the centre of how you approach it.

Jim Bloor

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