The future of Search
The future of how Google+ Authorship and structured data mark-up will impact search
Keywords have held the reigns of web search for a long time, but tomorrow’s search is making a departure, moving toward a smarter method of finding relevant content.
It's called "semantic search," and it is a colossal change for the way search is conducted, with deep implications for nearly every site on the web. Essentially, the idea is that search engines are being trained to "understand" search terms in a more intuitive, beneficial way.
The goal seems to be putting more information at the average person's fingertips through multiscreen computing, and Google is, as you might expect, leading the charge with updates to its algorithms and voice search implementation.
But what does all this mean to you?
Here’s what you can expect from search in the not-so-distant future.
Understanding: the future of search
The changes coming to web search are pretty technical.
In a nutshell, though, whereas the keyword string has been bread and butter of the search game for a while now, search terms are starting to bring results in a more personalised way.
If you search for the words 'Greek restaurant' from a smartphone in Melbourne, that string will serve as the "explicit query" - just like it always has, whether you are searching from a mobile device or elsewhere. But with new changes in how Google handles incoming search strings, when the search engine identifies that you are using a mobile device, you receive results based on the "implicit query," which uses geo-location data to extrapolate the string 'Greek restaurant, on street in Melbourne, Australia.' The results will, of course, help you locate a good place to get a gyro in Melbourne. Thus, the search is more understanding of what you’re really looking for.
Why all this focus on words and places?
These changes are primarily about raising the viability of mobile search. Specifically, Google wants you to be able to find what you're looking for seamlessly, using voice search, wherever you happen to be.
This technology exists in Android devices already, and the implementation is quite impressive, but with marked room to improve. As more content creators move to Google+ Author Rank profiles, the possibilities become more interesting. Soon, searching for "tow truck in Sydney," might stand to bring you credible reviews of such services, from a local Sydneysider with a respectable Author Rank.
Examples like that one and our Greek restaurant search query above are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how helpful search can be.
What should my company do?
You are probably wondering: what do I do now?
The quick answer is, start polishing up on semantic search and get comfy with Metadata. You want the search engines to understand your webpages through and through. This will allow sites like Google to create the rich snippets that you may have seen creeping into your own search results thus far.
The term to know is "structured data mark-up," for which Google offers a few nifty tips. You can also find out a great deal about optimising your pages for semantic search via Schema.org, the collaboration between Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft aimed at aligning the way data is handled online.
Additionally, content will still play a crucial role in the future of search. But search engines will do much more than look for keywords in content.
Google is starting to evaluate the content based on Author Rank and co-occurring search terms in other Ranked content to determine search position. So that's why - if you haven't done it already - now is the time to get familiar with Google Authorship and start signing and sharing your content via Google+, to build up your ranking.
Are you ready for the future of search?
Search is always evolving - and lately, for the better. The best changes along the way have been those that have given us better search results, with increased relevance to the average person. In the mobile reality, search is continuing to change, allowing localised, personalised results that will help customers connect with businesses more easily than ever.
What do you think about semantic search and Google Authorship? Will this signal the eventual demise of the keyword?