The search engine as we know it is dying
The first-ever search engine, Archie, was an FTP site created in 1990. Then came a plethora of early stage search engines like Excite, Infoseek, Altavista. Yahoo entered the game in 1994, followed by Google.
Search has been evolving at break-neck speed for 27 years, and it’s only going to get faster. Even though Google Search is still a behemoth, it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse of changing consumer behaviour.
Over the past few years, the definition of a search engine as we know it (a standalone site, where we input keyword queries and get back answers) has expanded and evolved.
Here are some aspects of the search industry you should be paying attention to in the next one to three years.
Beyond inputting keyboard queries, it’s now possible to search using speech, thanks to software in our phones, tablets and PCs.
Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana, Alexa: These voice assistants can increasingly understand spoken queries and return audio search results that are valuable to the user.
Taking this one step further, companies like Google (Google Home) and Amazon (Echo) are extending the reach of voice search right into the living room.
It is important to understand that not only is the search query entirely different to traditional search methods (spoken vs written), but also the context in which the query is being performed is different.
As shown at the recent Google I/O Conference, users will now be able to complete an entire takeaway order on Google Assistant purely by speech, without any physical data input.
The ability to search for images and videos has improved in leaps and bounds over the past few years.
Far from just being able to recognise pictures, the recent announcement of Google Lens at the Google I/O conference now makes it possible to receive further information, or even take further actions.
Google showed one example of a person simply pointing their smartphone camera at the details on a router, enabling them to automatically connect to the relevant Wifi network.
On-site search engines
Some websites have become so large that they themselves have become a portal where users search for information.
Take YouTube for example, the second largest search engine in the world with more than one billion users.
Instead of going to a traditional search engine such as Google or Bing, users go directly to YouTube to search for videos they would like to watch.
Successful YouTube channel owners constantly stay on top of any changes to the internal YouTube search engine.
Another website that needs to be mentioned is Amazon.
With their impending entry into the Australian market in July 2017, their internal search engine and listings is something that every retailer should be getting familiar with.
With over $100,000 in sales every minute, being prominent within the platform as a retailer is crucial.
Although Google Search continues to be a driving force in the search marketing industry, marketers and advertisers looking to stay ahead of the competition should be actively exploring the next frontier of search.