The Future of Search

Welcome to the World of Tomorrow!

Sorry...had to be done. I’m here at eConsultancy’s Future of Digital Marketing conference where our very own Mr Will Critchlow is presenting his thoughts on the Future of Search. As the chances of all of our readers actually being in this conference room with me is rather small, I’ve taken it upon myself to sum up Will’s talk so you don’t miss a thing.

And you don't want to miss a thing. And you don’t want to miss a thing.

The Future of Search is Understanding

Will’s first point absolutely fascinates me. I don’t come from a technical background. I’ve never coded anything in my life. I don’t pretend to know how Google does what it does. All I know from my limited understanding is that this search should not work.

Google Search box But it does...and that is just cool


Google has moved beyond just simply indexing the web and is now understanding it. Google spiders can now understand not just words in the text, but context and relevancy. It can piece all of this information together serve you results like the one above. This isn’t done by a bunch of Google Interns sitting in a room piecing together context clues from the web; this is machine learning. If I told you that five years ago, you would have said that was some freaky Matrix stuff. But it’s here now. This is the future.

So this kind of forward thinking is cool and all, but I know what you’re thinking. What does this mean for me, Joe Marketer? Well, I’m glad you asked Joe. Whoever you are. But first we need to keep looking so we can have a complete picture to work from. So, on to Will’s next point...

The Future of Search is Signed in Everywhere

Who here is signed into a Google account? It’s OK...don’t be shy. I would imagine the vast majority of you reading this are and that’s great. Actually, if you think about it, it’s really quite difficult to actually sign out of Google once you get going. So where will this take us? Will is predicting that the next step is Google Cookie Sync. We are not far away from a world where users will be automatically logged in across devices, across platforms and technologies. Google will know who you are, where you are going, what you like and don’t and what information you need. While this may be mildly terrifying for some, as marketers this is great because this is the kind of data we want to know!

In the good ole’ days, a typical search query would look like this:

Explicit Query

Now, with this idea of “signed in everywhere”, what is really happening is this:

Implicit Query

And this trend is absolutely growing. What we are starting to see, and what we will see more of going forward, is a change in the ‘traditional’ keyword model. Google is showing that they care less about the specific keyword, both in queries and results, and more about the concept. Here’s an example: if you are set-up on Google Now, which you should be as it is awesome, you no longer need to type out a long search query like “breakfast restaurant near london bridge”. You can simply search “breakfast”. Google knows where you are located, it knows it’s the morning where you are and it can serve you results for breakfast places within a short distance from where you are standing. Great, now I’m hungry. Thanks Obama.

But seriously, does this mean as Marketers we need to go back to stuffing content with the keyword breakfast? Absolutely not. This brings me to the final point in Will’s presentation.

The Future of Search is Good Marketing

This, for me, is crux of where we are going. Now don’t get me wrong, search marketing is not just good marketing, there are a certain amount of technical skills that are needed, but the future is pointing towards this way. Will has spoken on this before so I won’t belabor the point.

I speak to business owners everyday and the common theme I encounter is that people are nervous. And this is exactly what Google wanted. Caffeine led to Panda and Penguin being a reality and all of these updates mean that Google is, not so subtly, encouraging brands to act more like...well, brands. In fact, and I’m quoting Will here, it would not come as a surprise if the next major update was a Bad Merchant penalty.

Now, you can have a look at Will’s slides here and draw your own conclusions from all of this.

In fact, I would highly encourage that as these are predictions, and if predictions always came true then, I would be writing this from a yacht in the Caribbean and not sitting on the floor at a conference venue in a hotel in East London. What I want you to take away from this is that the future will upon us sooner than we think. And if we are not considering this stuff now, well...when will we?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments. We absolutely love talking about this stuff.

Shelley Wilson

Shelley Wilson

Shelley has been with Distilled for going on 3 years now. A Texan by birth, he graduated with a Bachelors in Theatre Studies from the University of Evansville in Indiana and then went on to complete a Masters of Fine Arts in Theatre from the...   read more

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  1. Thanks for sharing Will's visionary presentation, Shelley. Great insights. Lots of opportunities.

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  2. Thanks for posting. Bill Slawski talked about implicit and explicit queries about a year ago. I guess it pays to trawl through those Google patents!

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  3. Awesome post, thanks for sharing this.

    I happen to agree with Will, the future of search is now and that the next phase could very likely be a "bad merchant" penalty. As a marketer I am extremely excited about the future of search.

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  4. If this theory were to play out, do we think the data will appear (in GA) as a keyword losing its value, as an increase in long tail KWs surrounding the root KW, or something else? I'd actually argue that the breakfast query above is still centered on the KW. I think a concept query would something more like "where to eat now" and Google would realize it's breakfast time around the bridge. So I guess what I am asking, is if the "traditional kw model" would really change, or if we just now need to be more aware of incorporating concept optimization (should I trademark that?) into our strategies.

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  5. I would just like to start by saying as a DIY marketer the Distilled blog is the ONLY entry in my inbox i read in full everytime. THe content and thought that goes into every blog post is brilliant so thumbs up to you guys, in this case Shelley. I really like the ideas in this post that there will be a bad merchant penalty as our biggest competitor is really really bad at customer satisfaction but has such a massively dominant position that they are tough to compete with anyway. However there is a review site that has us at 4 out of 5 stars because of a really really bad spell we had a couple of years ago when we moved our warehouse interstate. Is this something that would be factoring do you think? It is old and we have loads of amazing reviews on other sites, Should I fear the next update?

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  6. Awesome predictions Shelley..

    As the internet becomes more competitive, I think we will get some business recession in coming years. I am an Internet marketing expert. For me, if businesses will slows down that means less new projects or low budget projects. The profits will down.

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  7. "The Future of Search is Good Marketing" very true and about time really. To much had been placed on finding ways to cheat the system, in the past. Actively sharing and networking quality content will never go away.

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  8. Nice presentation. I've written about this too from the linked data perspective - but it's really interesting to get a more commercial take on it. No word about Facebook Graph Search though?

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  9. Sanket Patel

    Awesome presentation...I am really stunned after seeing example of "that movie where two". Google is becoming smarter day by day so like seo guys. SEO community has learned a lot after Google Panda, Penguin updates.... We have to be awesome to survive in future.

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  10. Thanks Shelley for sharing Will’s presentation, Great presentation, Great data , Thanks for showing path.


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