Internet trends that will affect your business online
To keep your business’s online marketing efforts one step ahead of the highly dynamic search environment, it always pays to look at current trends and theorize where these trends will take us. By strategically analyzing the way the internet is being shaped we can prepare for these predicated changes ahead of time and maximize any benefit that can be gleaned from these insights. This can also help you stay one step ahead of your online competition so as to maximize profits that can be reaped from online changes. In business, it is better to be prepared for change or even be on the cutting edge of the change instead of chasing it.
Current Search Results Trends
Google is changing the way it displays information and the way it chooses to rank results on its search engine results page (SERP) and hence this affects the traffic to your website and your acquisition of new clients.
The Google Knowledge Graph is the information box at the top right hand side of the search results screen. It was added by Google in mid May 2012 to give more detailed information about topics to searchers. The information is displayed without the need to click on a result. As far as I have seen, the information is harvested from Wikipedia, but Google insist it is compiled from any Google trusted source. The source is always written below the paragraph about the topic so you can see where the information came from. The topic can be about a person, business, activity or thing which in turn varies the type of information included in the Knowledge Graph. For example: a person may have their weight listed compared to a thing that might have its location listed. The Google Knowledge Graph has drastically reduced the traffic to websites because the searcher gets the information they need without the need to click and enter any website. In addition the Knowledge Graph information box is in a highly prominent position above the fold of the page. It also pushes out many paid listings (PPC campaign results) which is an interesting move by the search giant Google which could adversely affect their revenues but increase the satisfaction of their users and hence increase user retention. All in all, this trend shows Google moving away from searchers clicking on results to find the information they want. The new style is Google displaying the information right there at the top of the search results.
The Carousel is yet another way Google is feeding the searcher results about related topics or people and displaying it in the most valuable real estate of its search page (at the top). The carousel is a horizontal black bar with 20 images instead of the regular blue list of link results. The carousel allows for a lot of results to be visually squeezed into a small amount of area at the top of the SERP. By clicking on a picture result in the carousel, the user is transported to a results page about that business. For your business, this highlights the critical importance of having appealing photos on your Google Local listing in Google + and also having all your information updated.
Mobile isn’t the future….it is now
- There were 4 billion local searches in May 2014 (source: comScore)
- 143.3 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones as of August 2013 (source: comScore)
- Google Sites ranked as the top web property visited on smartphones, reaching 92.6% of the mobile media audience, followed by Facebook (86.3%), Yahoo (81.7%) and Amazon Sites (66.8%) (source: comScore)
- 77% of mobile search happens at home or work — even when there’s a PC nearby and readily available (source: Nielson)
- 63% of mobile search-triggered actions occur within 1 hour of the initial search (source: Search Engine Land)
There is a huge audience using mobile devices right now. This audience uses the mobile browser to gather information and even purchase things. If your business doesn’t already have a mobile optimized site, you are already behind the eight ball. This trend is only growing and soon enough, I predict there will be a further decrease in traditional searches via desktops and laptops and the trend towards mobile browsing will continue to increase. Mobile users need websites and apps adjusted to meet their small screen sizes, scrolling needs and loading speeds of mobile carriers. Ensure your business has a clear mobile strategy and you are already well on your way to supplying your visitors and clients mobile friendly information, products and services.
Google Glass is already here and you can see early adapters walking around with this unstylish piece of eye wear right now. Google Glass is a wearable technology (a pair of glasses) that display information and allows the user to perform certain tasks while displaying everything on the glass in front of the users left eye. This kind of information that is fed directly into your daily life is another tremendous change in the way we get information. With Google Glass, there is no results screen – you simply walk down the street and look at something and Google displays information about it. Data related to your interests, geographical location and past queries all play a role in the glass displaying the information you want and need at that point in time. Google glass is the first wearable piece of technology that Google has created and is changing the way businesses need to feed information to Google to stay competitive and keep their potential clients aware of their business’s existence. Imagine if your business did not get mentioned to the Glass wearer when they were standing close by and wanted to make a purchase. Glass works at the swipe of your finger or with the voice command ‘ok glass’ and it feeds information about weather, directions, sends messages, translates and also takes pictures and video of course. Check out how it feels to live life looking through Google Glass.
The most interesting part of what Google explained about their algorithm change called Hummingbird is that it was an integral change in the way Google orders and displays the most relevant search results because the new algorithm focused more on ‘answering questions’ rather than displaying results with a related keyword. This is a seismic shift in the way results are ranked and also an insight into the types of results Google wants to display and rank highest on their SERP. If your website is not answering questions, that means you need to ask yourself why not? Google have clearly stated they want to serve their users answers, so why not adjust your content to providing answers and then you’ll be fed the pipeline of traffic you desire so much.
Another major stated and publicized focus of Google is to allow the search algorithm to learn as you search. Using artificial intelligence (AI), Google hope to better understand you as the searcher and hence give more relevant results with less need for instruction. An example would be that you have just been searching and visiting sites about Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia and you are located in another suburb of Sydney. You then perform the search (which could be a voice search on your phone, tablet, laptop or Google Glass) and ask “How do I get there?” – Google hopes to be able to understand when you say ‘there’, you mean Bondi Beach and it should also know your current location. With this kind of intuitive learning software (which is currently available through voice search on Chrome) people can perform searches more like asking a friend a question without the need for long search queries. This effects local business and makes it even more relevant to have a claimed and up to date local Google+ listing so as to get clients that can easily find you through using these kinds of Google search platforms.
Google’s stated goals
Amit Singhal, a senior VP at Google said Google’s aims are three fold:
See this 15 minute inspiring video in which he presents the incredible progress Google have made in all three spheres:
Google is heading us into a world of search with no results screen. Currently they are providing search with no need to click on results (Google Knowledge Graph and Carousel), but soon Google will be providing the answers and information the searcher desires without a search results page at all (via voice responses or on Google Glass). This is due to the shift to searches being performed on platforms such as apps, using voice search such as siri for iPhone users and other voice search options on alternate mobile phones and Chrome browsers and through augmented reality wearable technology such as Google Glass. This all results in the SERP being a thing of the past.
No more weeding through a plethora of results with a blue hyperlink and a short description. The future is Google itself feeding you the information in the format (either visual or audio answers) you want and understanding exactly what information you desire (using AI) without the need for explaining and expounding upon it too much thanks to the ability of Google to learn intuitively.
For your business to survive in the future sphere of a SERP-less desert, you need to feed Google information about your business so it can in turn feed it to the searcher. This can only be done through utilizing the tools that Google give your business such as Google Local which is now on Google +, using rich snippets, adding your products to Google products and having up to date information in Google trusted sources such as Wikipedia. In that way, you will no doubt reach searchers that don’t even get served a SERP. You will also reach users who do use the traditional search engine but get fed Google results in the form of the knowledge graph and carousel instead of the regular 10 blue links on the SERP.