Google is always working to make search results more personalised, more useful, more relevant and of better quality. Search is only becoming smarter and although it may seem to be heaping on more and more rules and ‘ranking factors’, it actually now offers brands even more capacity to be found for the right search terms.
Search algorithms might not be the topic you want to read about for the next ten minutes, but they’re seriously important to every brand who wants to be discovered online through organic search.
It may look like the same old Google but the search giant has quietly introduced so many new and updated capabilities to make your brand visibility better, over the years, that sometimes we forget how far we’ve actually come.
Machine learning (ML) is to thank for a lot of the current capabilities of search. The ability to develop this subsection of AI has led to key developments that mean we can now better connect with customers, as brands and companies, by utilising behaviour patterns.
The benefits of ML in organic search means user location, previous searches, personal information and any other useful behaviour patterns support in determining the most suitable result. The ability to continuously present more and more relevant search results to users means a better outcome for them and less time spent searching every time.
“A lot of the value is not in adding features that weren’t there before, but in improving accuracy and performance – subtle, small things that normal users often don’t notice.” Google Machine Learning Specialist, Erwin Huizenga
For example, one of the most interesting developments is the way in which how Google understands vague queries, which previously might have confused or thrown off search engines. You can now ask Google circumstantial queries, which will then utilise machine learning combined with other popular, relevant searches to reveal the most relevant answer.
Google Lens is becoming increasingly popular in helping people find what they want when they’re unable to articulate effectively. We no longer need to guess the time period of a piece of furniture or clothing, we no longer have to try and describe that coat we saw someone wearing on a night out and we no longer have to spend hours trawling through pictures trying to find that breed of cat from Instagram.
The visual search functionality offers limitless opportunity and not only that, it makes Google more accessible. The capability creates a more well-rounded search function which means that those who cannot read, or cannot write or simply find it easier to search via image are not left behind and instead have the same opportunities to find what they are looking for.
Voice search has undeniably increased with popularity, likely due to the improvement in functionality and accuracy. Just years ago, voice search was clunky, unreliable and often risque, with results often far removed from the desired outcome.
Now that we’ve managed to more effectively harness the power of voice search and the more natural way that we speak compared to typing a search, we should now be well on our way to creating content which isn’t written for robots and works better for to meet this user function.
We can also design voice search experiences which rely on the user actually knowing what they’re doing. A lot of what we do and design presumes no prior knowledge on the users part, but what about looking at the cases of the likes of Amazon, whereby users often use this in a habitual manner? These actions work well when customers know what they need and can make a purchase without further research and we should design more experiences which rely on this, which can also inspire repeat and regular purchase.
What does this mean for brands?
With algorithms becoming more specific and complex, it actually means that companies should hand over more responsibility to said algorithms and trust them to actually make the best judgement and decision.
In this way, brands can then focus on building a great company, an offering which people will genuinely want or need and position it in a way which allows it to shine – i.e. expertly curated and created content for social media, a website which is informative and useable etc.
It’s no longer worth trying to ‘game’ the search engines, and instead, brands need to focus on actually ‘being’ the best at what they do than simply appearing that way online. Google is telling brands that they need to build a brand which is honest, they need to create products that work that people want to talk about organically and they need to ensure they are striving to actually be the best.
For more information on search engine optimisation, brand development and improving the user experience, get in touch with Favoured today.
Also published on Medium.