3 Predictions About the Future of Search
How Search Will Affect Our Lives in the Year to Come
The following is based on a chapter in my new ebook, Ever Seeking: the History and Future of Search. For more thoughts like these, as well as to read the rest of the book, go here: https://www.gregkihlstrom.com/ever-seeking-2018/
We are moments away from the answer to any question we might have. Who starred in that movie? Where should I eat for dinner? How soon can I get a product delivered to my house? With over 6,586,013,574 searches a day worldwide[i] and growing steadily as it expands across channels and methods such as voice-activate, search has become the way we find information or remember key facts.
Search has a unique connection with users because they invest themselves in the process, and that connection only becomes stronger with high-touch interfaces and voice commands. Smart marketers will take the effort to understand how the new frontiers of search work, and how to make themselves found.
Contextual relevance in all its forms will also be a way for marketers to find a way to set their brands apart. Understanding how to display your company, its products or services and other unique characteristics across a variety of devices, serving a variety of user intents (“I want to know” or “I want to go”, etc.) can be a competitive differentiator.
There is much yet to happen in the world of search, but let’s look at three areas in which we can start to explore the future.
Prediction 1: Voice-activated will dominate, visual second, mobile third
We’ve already discussed that within a few years, voice search will equal if not outnumber traditional text searches. How are you taking advantage of this trend?
Gary Vaynerchuck, in his book “Crushing It,” refers to this phenomenon as Voice First, and describes it this way:
“It’s called Voice-First, and anyone currently building a personal brand needs to learn about it fast and early. Its platforms are the equivalent of yet-to-be-discovered Malibu beachfront property, much like Twitter in 2006, Instagram in 2010 and Snapchat in 2012.”
In addition to spending time and money on SEO analysis tools, make sure you’re taking voice search into account in your optimization efforts as well.
Visual searches are very important as well, particularly to younger generations. In a study of 1,000 Gen Z and Millennial consumers by ViSenze[ii] in the UK, they found that 62% of the respondents strongly desire visual search capabilities that they can use on their mobile devices to find products and services.
Don’t forget about mobile searches, either, however. More Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries, including the U.S. and Japan[iii]. This follows the same trend which has shown web visits, email opens[iv] and many other forms of marketing are dominated by users on mobile devices in recent years.
Even as voice search continues to grow, the use of smartphones and handheld devices continues to thrive.
Prediction 2: Location- and context-sensitive content
The better context a search interface is able to have, the quicker and easier it is to provide great results. While a lot of this is currently handled at the search engine level, as the way we search diversifies, it will become increasingly incumbent on the creator of content to have a way of telling a search engine what type of content they are providing and the optimal context with which to display it.
This also means that content providers need to think continually about all of the different ways that something might be viewed. This includes anything from providing different file formats or methods (video or audio) depending on the type of search request. Content creators will need to think in increasingly diverse ways about how they produce content intended for search.
Prediction 3: Paid search will drive innovation
While many might complain about paid search and how advertising pushes their content further down in the results, the upside is that because of paid search, we have a lot of the innovations that make it easier for your customers to find you.
This innovation will continue to occur, and just as has happened in the past, some of those new features developed through an advertising model will also slowly make their way to the non-paid side of search.
The Role Search Engines Will Play in Our Lives
It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that search engines already play a rather large role in our lives. They do way more than help us win bets about who starred in which movie. As the Internet and its content replaces our need to retain certain information, search becomes the key to unlocking our memories, experiences, and the details required to find what we need.
Search becomes the gateway to new experiences, new knowledge and new ideas. Ideally, it can become the embodiment of the democratization of
[i] Allen, Robert. “Search Engine Statistics 2017.” April 13, 2017. Smart Insights.
[ii] Loechner, Jack, “Visual Search Preferred New Tech.” MediaPost. September 4, 2018.
[iii] Hubspot. “2017 Marketing Statistics.”
[iv] Sterling, Greg. “Mobile Devices Drive 66 Percent of Email Opens - Report.” Marketing Land. May 9, 2014.