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.
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 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 EverywhereWho 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:
Now, with this idea of "signed in everywhere", what is really happening is this:
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.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments. We absolutely love talking about this stuff.