Adapting To A Changing Search Landscape
The biggest catalyst for change is mobile search. When Siri hit the market it was a game changer because it fed into our desire for instant gratification – it provided us with access to what we wanted, based on the questions we were asking. Behind the scenes, advanced search capabilities with voice recognition were driving the results. Similarly, Google offers a mobile search product, Google Now, powered by voice commands in natural language. This technology is breaking down the long questions that are being asked by the user, and serving relevant answers in real-time.
Essentially, our behavior has evolved and we now look to search engines to be response engines, and major search engines are making moves to accommodate this behavior and deliver results. Google, Yahoo!, and Bing are improving their algorithms and the intelligence of their engines by integrating semantic technology. Their engines must now be calibrated for broader matches based on full phrases, and more importantly, they should have the capability to understand the meaning behind a string of words to serve an answer to the user in seconds.
We see this with new offerings such as Google’s Knowledge Graph and Bing’s Snapshots, known as “entity search” offerings. These focus less on keywords and more on intent-based collective intelligence. While the goal is to accommodate user behavior and provide relevant results, advertisers need to consider the effect this has when it comes to the search engines’ results pages. As traditional result pages are evolving, traditional search ads are being displaced, and in some cases removed altogether, in favor of Google Reviews and Google Catalog, for example. Check out the result page when searching for the Boston Red Sox – here () -- it’s surprising to see zero advertisements for tickets, baseball caps and paraphernalia. To be noticed, businesses are forced to load their products into Google’s product catalog and/or have a positive standing in Google Reviews
This search evolution is spilling over to social search. Earlier this year, Facebook announced its new Graph Search equipped with semantic technology. This provides users with better, more accurate responses to their queries by having the ability to understand specific data points and user preferences. From a consumer perspective, this allows users to discover more, more easily. For example, users can find “like minded” friends after performing a search for, “friends of friends who like Bruno Mars.” From an advertiser’s side, this evolution in Facebook’s search capabilities represents a big opportunity by providing them with enhanced targeting accuracies. In fact, this evolution is expected to drive $3 to $4 billion of revenue by 2015 for Facebook, according to Michael Patcher, an analyst at Wedbush Securities quoted in a Bloomberg Businessweek post.
As users are becoming more sophisticated and search engine providers are updating their algorithms, simple keyword matches have become less
important, while the quality of content becomes more important than ever. Content is made up of words that can be scanned and analyzed to determine its relation and association to the words in the
longer searches. The better your content is, the more likely it is to be served as a result.
Furthermore, if your content is compelling and valuable, it is likely that it will be shared through social networks, which factor into the indexing of your site on search engines. Additionally, the more content you have, the more keywords and semantic relationships your site will have, which will continue to power your organic traffic growth.