As search changes, Google changes
Columnist Adam Dorfman notes that people are changing the way they search in response to new technologies and the proliferation of smartphones. What can advertisers and SEOs do to keep up?
Everything we know about search is changing fundamentally. An explosion of devices and technologies continues to shape how and where we search.
The notion of jumping onto our laptops and typing search terms on Google.com feels increasingly quaint — something the search giant is sensing and responding to. Advertisers need to, as well.
For many years, the user interface for search remained unchanged. You visited a search engine like Google on your desktop, typed a request for information and got a list of reasonably useful answers in return.
But, seemingly overnight, everything changed. Now, searching means utilizing a wide range of interfaces, including GPS devices, wearables, smart objects such as Amazon Echo and operating systems such as iOS and Android. Oh, and we’re not just lounging on our sofas at home when we search. We’re searching on the go.
Because we want information on the fly, and because we rely on a number of interfaces to find what we want, our search behaviors are changing.
For instance, when we’re behind the wheel of a car or walking down the street wearing an Apple Watch, we’re using our voices more often than our fingertips to find what we want. And when we’re back home, we can order a pizza by talking to our Amazon Echo devices instead of visiting Google.com to find out who delivers.
Recently, a company known as MindMeld, which provides voice search technologies, surveyed US smartphone users and found that 60 percent had started using voice search within the past year. You can also see a rise in search queries that are clearly voice commands when you look at Google Trends for phrases such as “call mom,” which are highly unlikely to be typed into a search box.
Voice search is no longer coming. It’s here.
These changes do not bode well for Google’s traditional revenue model, which relies on serving up ads while you search on Google.com. The user interface of talking to your mobile phone or wearable device to order a pizza does not leave any room for a paid search ad. So it’s not surprising that display advertising spend is overtaking search ad spend, and the gap between the two will widen over the next few years.