Recently, Google turned 20 years old (we know, we can’t believe it either) and with that momentus occasion, they also decided to let us in on some of the latest updates and additions to their technology. Some of these features are completely new, while others are expansions or even “inspired by” competitiors such as Instagram or Snapchat. Keep reading to learn more about what Google has in store for the future of search, and how these new features could impact on SEO.
An important behaviour pattern in people’s search journey has been steadily becoming more evident. People aren’t just doing a one off search to solve a problem or answer a question, but mutliple searches that can continue for weeks or even months. Tasks like finding a job, planning a wedding or renting an apartment usually takes time, and Google is improving its users search activity with an upgrade to its Activity Cards and Collections applications.
Actvity cards will now automatically surface where you left off in a search process. Don’t worry, Google’s assured us that these cards won’t activate every single time; and you can also edit and remove card results if you know there’s certain results you’ve already seen.
Collections is another function that exists already but Google is kicking it up a notch. Collections essentially allows users to organise their saved content on their phone, but the updated version is going to be closley intertwined with Google’s Activity Cards. Users will now be able to save items that appear on their Activity Cards into their Collections. Also, Google will prompt users with suggestions of related topics – perfect for those purchases that require lots of consideration.
With 800 million monthly active users globally, Google Feed is increasingly becoming more relevant. Especially as a source of traffic for third-party publishers. However, this feature is getting a bit of a makeover as well.
Google Feed is changing its name to Discover and will appear on Google’s mobile home page. Besides the name change, Discover’s users can now expect design improvements and more control and capabilities. Every news or content item that appear in Discover will now by accompanied by a topic heading that is effectively a search query. Users can also indicate if they want to follow a topic, see more or less of a certain topic and Google is adding more video content as well.
Taking their cue from other more visual centric platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, and putting more focus on visual search. Similar to Instagram stories, Google has recently launched AMP which is now available to all developers. By taking this and applying it to search (initially just for celebrities and athletes), Google is hoping to disrupt some of the traffic from these big platforms.Visual stories provide information in a fun and new format that Google’s banking on many of its users wanting to adopt.
Along with this, Google is using computer vision to quickly find segments of video that may pertain to an entered search query. Titled “featured videos”, this new function will help users find videos that are relevant to their question easily and visually. Google says it’s also updating Google images to show more contect around images to better enable users to take action on both desktop and mobile devices.
So what does this all mean for SEO and digital marketing? Basically, experts need to expect much more structured content with Google anticipating its user’s needs. Conventional “blue links”, especially on mobile, will be given lower importance. SEO and digital marketing experts would be wise to make sure their visual content is just as strong and optimised for search as their text based content.