What will search look like in 2017 and beyond?
In 2017 we shall see online search evolve from cross-device use to assisted bots and voice search due to the advent of digital assistants such as Alexa, Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant.
This year has been predicted to be the year of voice search. In fact, a recent Google study revealed over half of U.S. teens and 41% of U.S. adults use voice search on a daily basis. Due to the growth of AI and digital assistants in voice search, user intent will be gauged more effectively as they evolve from voice recognition to voice understanding. Consequently businesses will need to tailor their optimization efforts to accommodate voice search.
This year will also see a greater implementation of cross-channel marketing in search. Though this may sound similar to multi-channel marketing, they are in fact different. While multi-channel refers to a brand establishing a presence on more than one platform, cross-channel allows for the integration of brand visibility across several platforms. This may be implemented through targeted ads for users via email or social media based on their searches. The result will be a consistent brand presence across multiple channels so that users may be able move seamlessly between devices and platforms whilst making a purchase.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs)
As search through mobile devices becomes more prevalent in 2017, brands will need to ensure an effortless mobile experience. As a result we have witnessed the rise of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs). This open-source protocol enables webmasters to create pages that load almost instantly on mobile devices, four-times faster in fact and with the use of eight-times less data. Subsequently Google has begun to favour sites with AMPs and even indicates the swiftness of their functionality with a small lightning bolt icon.
Additionally Google has leveraged algorithmic machine learning through the use of the artificial intelligence system ‘RankBrain’. Updates to the system such as the ‘Hummingbird’ extension allow Google to conclusively comprehend and display results for spoken queries. As a result the function gradually learns how users phrase conventional queries and updates its algorithm accordingly. As a consequence, brands will need to place more focus on optimizing their digital content in relation to intent rather than specific keywords. This will enable them to effectively target consumers throughout the intent and purchasing cycle. Furthermore the battle between bite-sized and lengthy content will be surpassed by a trend towards “dense” content whereby brands will attempt to offer as much information as possible in the smallest possible space.
User Experience Optimisation (UEO)
Finally we shall also see a blurring of the lines between user experience optimization and SEO. A greater focus on user experience has resulted in brands ensuring the development of user-friendly platforms. Consequently Google and Bing have recognised these efforts by helping these websites rank higher.