Once upon a time, search was so predictable. People were at home or work at their desktop computer and would enter a search at Google.com. Answers would come ranked and users decided what to do from there.
Now, search comes from everywhere, least of which seems to be the desktop. Smart phones, wearables, smart objects such as Amazon Echo, in cars. Everyone is searching now when they’re on the go.
And more and more, voices are doing the searching, not fingertips. Statistics from a company called MindMeld surveyed smart phone users and found that 60 percent had started using voice search with the past year. That search can be as simple as “Call home” but it’s still search.
So what does Google think about this? After all, how can a paid search ad come up in a voice search?
The answer is Google is changing.
Google is becoming more involved with you elsewhere
So, while going to google.com may now seem somewhat passé, Google isn’t. The company is busy keeping you under its spell elsewhere. Here are some of the things it’s doing to adapt to changes in search.
Apps and operating systems
It’s easy to think of everything Google does as separate stuff. Maybe you love Google Maps and Gmail. Maybe you now edit documents only on Google Drive. Maybe Chrome is your default browser. Think about it — Android, Chrome, Drive, Gmail, Google Fiber, Google Maps, Android Auto, Android Apps — they’re all sneaking their way into your heart and daily life.
As you can see from that list, Google is creating a whole world that keeps you in its universe regardless of what you do with search.
Creating physical products
And Google is building actual stuff from Google Glass to Chromebooks to driverless cars. While it is tempting to mock their degree of success or failure (have you ever seen anyone using Google Glass?), the company doesn’t really care about revenue, it just wants you to have more ways of involving yourself with Google. And think about it, a driverless car is the perfect voice search vehicle, literally, if it’s made by Google!
Changing search results
Remember those timeworn days when seven organic search results populated your screen? And there were reviews, a big map, lots of info. AdWords were over on the side, obviously paid and only used if absolutely needed.
Then last year, Google changed the rules, delivering the infamous “snack pack” of only three organic results, still with a map. But info was dramatically cut and guess what? AdWords were still on the side, but suddenly one rose to the top of the page with many searches.
Now, in 2016, results often come back with four AdWords on top of the results, with the snack pack below.
All of this points to one thing, mobile search. Now when searching on your phone, for many searches Google delivers only paid search on the first page, the user having to scroll down to find organic search. So, who wins there? Uh, Google.
Google still cares deeply about search on google.com, though. They are creating an opensource project called Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) that will make pages load faster on mobile devices, but will also keep you in the Google universe, providing them with lots of info to track and keep.
Other new products such as Google App Streaming and Google’s Physical Web have the same intentions.
The possible future
Some experts claim that the future of search won’t be a list of results, paid or unpaid, at all. If you make a voice search such as “Find Chinese restaurant,” there is a growing body of thought that what will come back will be a single result based on all of your past voice search, car search, search on other devices, even traditional google.com search.
What Google would return would be something like this, “Your closest Chinese restaurant is House of Lo Mein six blocks away. Turn left at the next street, and then turn right on Main.”
No list. No paid search. No organic search. Hmm. Now that’s something to adjust to. It appears Google is busy adjusting just fine.