26 Sep Search? Where we’re going, we don’t need search!
If you’ve seen the 80’s hit movie “Back to the Future” you know exactly what the title is referring to. At the end of the movie the eccentric Doc Brown urgently has Marty get into his time machine to speed off to the future where apparently roads are obsolete.
This sums up how I feel when I see marketers frantically trying to optimize their content to be found in search engines. Sure, search was and still is a large driver of traffic but are we sure it will always be this way? In the future, will we really need to use keywords and phrases to find something we are looking for or will our devices be able to understand what we need before we have to look for it and proactively show us that content?
Let’s face it, over the past two years (at least) there hasn’t been a single day that went by without someone saying that search traffic is declining and “SEO is dead.” While in the short term, much of this is hysteria, we have to ask ourselves if there is merit in these claims long term. One angle to consider is that, while most are working frantically to be found when potential customers search for their problems, there are ways to reach these people even before they search. Google is no fool and has been planning for this for a long time.
In October 2012, Google launched Google Now on their Android devices. Google Now is a new way to view information that’s precisely tailored to you. This service takes everything Google knows about you and presents you information that is ideally relevant to you based on the time of day and your location. The information is shown on “cards” which look like index cards with bite-size tidbits of info.
Google pulls this information from sources like your Gmail account, search history, Chrome browsing history, location of your Android device, etc. Some examples of what Google knows about you includes:
- Upcoming flights and hotel reservations
- Recent orders you made online
- Movies, stocks and sports you’ve searched.
It takes all of this information and makes simple assumptions about data you’d like to see in Google Now. For example, if JetBlue emails me a confirmation of a flight I booked, Google can determine from this email when the flight is and what airport I will be flying out of. The day of the flight it can show me a Google Now card with the status of my flight and traffic information between my current location and the airport I’m flying out of.
The burning question marketers want to know is “how can we get brands content to appear in these cards?” One of the most interesting thing I’ve witnessed with Google Now is that since it knows your browsing history across all instances of Chrome, it knows what blogs you frequent. Without even having to to subscribe to these blogs email or RSS feeds, Google can now determine that you’re spending time on these sites and start delivering their new posts right to your Google Now cards.
In the future, will your audience even search for relevant content anymore or will they just find it all through applications like Google Now? If they do, will your content be on blogs that reach your audience?
Having bloggers writing positive content about your brand is great to not only reach their audience, you’ll also get the added benefit of the people Google Now recommends their content to. Imagine, content about YOUR brand being pushed right to the smartphones or people you are trying to reach and they are EAGER to read it. Is that a future you’re prepared for?