Life seemed simpler back in the early days of online search. Users relied on search engines to look up information, instead of apps and social media channels like they do now. Back then, brands simply needed to insert the right keywords in the right places to rank well in search results. But, today's new technologies and features-- things like apps, social media and voice search--have redefined "simple." Thanks to them, today's average users are on the hunt for an even more streamlined experience. They want ultra-simplicity, the kind that requires bare minimum effort. In fact, the concept of having information at their fingertips no longer cuts it. That is unless they're getting it spoon fed.
Baruch Labunksi the CEO Rank Secure, the leading SEO, and marketing expert of today, says today's users aren't even on search engines most of the time. According to him, consumers are "spending 85% of their smartphone time on apps where they're getting tied up by social media, game apps, and texting."
Truth be told, says Labunksi "search engines are no longer at the center of user insight in the way that they once were. Now users have access to mobile technology and AI that makes search endeavors easier and completely changed the way people seek out information".
Assuming the SEO guru has it right, what does this mean for the future of search? What's more, what does Labunksi think technology has in store for its future? We sat down with him to find out.
Reliance On Mobile and Voice Search
In 2015 alone, the volume of mobile data traffic grew globally by 74%. With mobile internet access expanding rapidly across the globe, it's clear that mobile technology is increasingly dictating the way consumers search and digest blog content. This is another aspect of search, Labunksi suggests will be affected. "No one uses search engines on mobile devices anymore," Labunksi notes. "Setting a desktop's homepage to Google is, even today, pretty customary. But search on mobile these days tends to be much more rooted in apps."
By Labunksi predictions, app use for the sake of information search instead of a browser will be a future direction that search takes. Google's recent launch of Accelerated Mobile Pages is proof that they're already anticipating this evolution from browser to mobile search. Of course, there's still another factor that will have an affect on the way people use mobile to search.
Mobile voice search is becoming an increasingly common way for users to make queries and carry out tasks. Digital assistants like Siri and Alexa are making it all the more easy for people to integrate the internet into their daily lives.
"Practically every user relies on digital assistants," Labunksi says as he points to a time when people thought Bluetooth users looked ridiculous as they appeared to be talking to themselves. "Now people just assume that that's the reason why they're talking without anyone else around." The thing is, Siri and Alexa, don't have to use search engines like Bing, Yahoo or Google to provide results. "The digital assistants don't need Google," Labunksi mentions, "which means users who rely on assistants don't either."
Context Will Become Search's Right Hand Man
As Labunksi points out, search engines have been personalizing the results we receive for years. "They use our search history and social activity to pin down products we might like, but there's a bigger future for search engines that extends beyond product ads," he says. In the future, Labunksi says that search will cater to our more personal dilemmas, like what to eat when you're on a diet.
Say for instance that you've decided to really buckle down and stick with a strict workout and diet routine. To track your every calorie and move you use a phone app which notes the type of allergies and restrictions you have. Search engines like Google would keep track of this information for you when you look for recipes and head over to a grocery store. As opposed to receiving a stack of general healthy recipe recommendations, your results will cater to your specific diet and weight interests. As opposed to receiving recommendations for recipes that include ingredients that affect your allergies, you receive ones for recipes that account for your dietary restrictions.
Ask Jeeves' And the Natural Language Search Come Back
By now practically everyone can recognize that the 90s search engine Ask Jeeves, was well ahead of its time. Well before search engines of today were modifying SEO for mobile, Jeeves was already allowing users to make search queries using everyday language. Ultimately the site lost out to search engines like Google and Yahoo that encouraged users to get to the point with keywords.
While it's far too late for Ask Jeeves at this point, today's search engines have a chance of staying relevant for users if they model Jeeve's initial search concept. This is especially true considering that the rise of mobile voice search is also producing an increase of natural language queries. Which, according to Baruch Labunksi, is completely turning SEO on its head. "Ironically, today's search engines are starting to go for that Q&A format that excluded Ask Jeeves from the user equation in the first place," he notes. In fact, in his opinion, the future of search relies heavily on Jeeve's Question & Answers search concept. Sites like Amazon and Quora already utilize these Question & Answers features. Their high ranking position on search engines might be proof that this shift is already in action.
To thrive in the future world of increasing natural language query, sites will have to have the answer to user questions readily available.