Google made a startling announcement earlier this week when they shared “The end of search as we know it.” For many, especially if your business relies on high rankings to generate leads or business, this was disastrous news. Luckily, this provocative title is a little misleading. Search and search rankings are certainly not dead, but are now much more personalized. Specifically, Google is making some major changes to its search algorithm and that will effect search engine optimization. These changes will make searches more “intelligent” and personalized. Google believes that today’s search methods should focus around three main principles: answer, converse, and anticipate.
Using their knowledge of graph application, Google is now able to detect informational relationships between any subject matters. You may have already seen this with movie listings, where search engines provide entire lists of movies directed by a specific director. Another example are searches for country populations that also serve up data from relevant comparison countries. In other words, a search for the population of India will also pull data from the US and China.
Using the knowledge graph as a basis for ongoing research, Google has added new languages. The addition of new languages allows for more accurate and personalized results for individuals around the world. This allows users to ask search engines questions as if you were speaking to a friend and not a search engine. Getting more personalized often means better accuracy.
The third essential component to Google’s changes is anticipation. For Google, this means returning data to users at the right time, before they even ask the question. These features have already been implemented on Android and iPhone via a tool called Google Now. This feature is now implemented in travel arrangements (ticketing, travel directions, etc.) and delivering information on your mobile device. Imagine search engine optimization getting you to the IAH, giving you your boarding pass, having a taxi upon your arrival, and presenting your hotel check information to you when you arrive at each location.
One example that was shown during the Google I/O conference was the ability for a user to make an emergency trip (think forgetting your pocketbook at home). The feature would determine if enough time was available to retrieve it with turn by turn directions, and updated reminders.
For Better or For Worse
These new features seem to be a vast improvement in the way technology and its users interact. At first glance, nothing but positive results seems possible. But, as awesome as the new changes are, many users are concerned that personalized searches can form a “bubble” around the user and act as an information filter. The believe that, by effectively personalizing searches, users will not become aware of new information that they would normally come across without such personalization. If implemented in the most dystopian ways, such a feature would be an information filter in disguise. and work against the general culture of the web itself.