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The 7 Biggest Trends In Google Web Search

Business man in heavy rain.

Today I’m listing the 7 most important trends in web search that I think will soon spell disaster for businesses who rely on Google search to get traffic, leads, and customers.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t do SEO. But in my everyday work I see lots and lots of small businesses for whom Google search is the ONLY source of traffic.

For “internet marketing experts” it’s easy to forget that offline businesses don’t have our knowledge; they don’t have our enthusiasm for social media or content marketing. They don’t have viral YouTube channels, or whatever.

Google search is changing massively, and it’s going in a direction that ALMOST ALL small and medium sized businesses as well as many SEOs completely ignore.

Trends 1 and 2: How Google moves traffic away from your small or medium biz web site.

1. Direct answers. Googles goal is not to send searchers to your web site. Google’s goal is to answer whatever question a searcher might have. In an ideal Google world the searcher does not need to click away from Google at all.

The trend is that Google will answer all questions directly on the search results page [SERP].

Looking at the sometimes still questionable quality of current search results you may think Google is not technically able to so. But this is wishful thinking, and the future will prove it wrong sooner than most people would believe. Artificial intelligence is in the making. Google’s [and Bing‘s] ability to provide answers is already improving at astonishing speed.

These machine generated answers will be shown prominently on SERPs, with traditional web site listings way below.

2. Authority over relevance. Now more than ever Google favors authority sites over “smaller” sites, even if content found on the smaller sites is more relevant to the search query.

Authority sites are those with the most pages, most back links, most frequent content updates, most frequent new content, and sites that have been around for years.

For smaller sites it will be increasingly harder to outrank authority sites. Soon the first SERP will be filled almost exclusively with authority sites.

Additionally 75,000 new domains are registered each day who also want to compete with you on Google’s top spots.

Trends 3 and 4: Why SERPs will lose importance.

3. Voice based search. What – in public perception – started with Apple’s Siri will become the norm in a few years.

People will change from using a keyboard to using voice. Often they will also get the answers to their search via voice.

Ask yourself: what’s the point of being on top of SERPs when the user doesn’t look at the SERP anymore?

4. Tiny Screens. While smart phones are getting bigger screens, we’re seeing new types of devices coming up with tiny screens. For now those are smart watches and glasses.

Both do not have enough screen space to show you traditional SERPs in an easy to skim and easy to use manner.

Once smart watches and glasses are well developed I expect other types of wearable computers which might not have any screen at all.

Trend 5 and 6 and 7: Why Google web search will lose importance.

5. Decline of Google web search market share. I’m using the term “web search market share” loosely.

Not in the statistical sense that compares searches between traditional search engines [for example Google vs. Bing], but acknowledging that people increasingly perform their searches on sites other than search engine sites.

The most prominent alternatives right now are Facebook, YouTube, Twitter.

Every search performed on these sites is one where your top placement on traditional Google SERPs is wasted.

Apart from that I expect Bing to gain greater market share at the expense of Google.

6. Diversified Discovery. Not only will people more often search on sites other than Google, they will also more often skip “searching” completely and instead “discover” content.

For example instead of typing their query into a search box, they might type it into the status update box on Facebook and ask their friends instead of asking Google.

Or they might discover content by clicking #Hashtags instead of using Google search.

7. Alternative ecosystems. A few years back being online meant being within a web browser looking at the internet.  Now traditional internet is losing viewing time to closed ecosystems separate from browser based internet.

The majority of those are smart phone operating systems. They do have traditional browsers, but they also offer tons of content jailed within apps with no direct connection to Google search.

Plus, people start viewing content on devices like Kindle, again being in a space somewhat separated from traditional internet and traditional SERPs.

Conclusion: For the seven reasons listed above businesses can expect to get less and less traffic from Google search. At the same time achieving top positions on search requires more work.

I’ve written a few posts about the risky changes in search before.

One feedback I got this week was that my last post on Google SEO raised a few eyebrows. ‘

This is the best I can hope for, and in this spirit I’m presenting these 7 search trends open for a lively discussion.

More important than ever:

By Ralf Skirr Tags > , ,
12 Comments
  • Qasim

    Hi Ralf,

    What a great discussion here, I totally agree with you, people experience and behavior is changing and what I admire about Google is that they have a great vision in the future therefore they started to prefer top authoritative websites over relative small website as they want to make sure that the results are verified.

    Also they implemented author markup so that people can see the author image beside the content and choose their favorite authors. As for web searches being decreased I don’t see that this is something well go away in the near future.

    Voice search and Voice results still have more time to evolve.

    Reply
    • Ralf Skirr

      Qasim, thanks for your comment. I took a look at your blog. Funny idea about the aliens giving make money tips. :)

      Reply
  • Lisa

    Ralf, it amazes me how much Google has made changes in this year alone. It really has shaken up the whole SEO factors. It’s really keeping webmasters on their toes and businesses needing to do more with email campaigns and social media. I wonder where it will end?

    Reply
    • Ralf Skirr

      Lisa, it might take a few years, but my guess is that businesses and marketers in the end will put more resources into great content and networking, while reducing SEO efforts. By networking I mean activities geared towards reaching real people instead of pleaseing Google bot.

      Given the enormous budget the SEO industry is using, I wonder what could be accomplished if the money were spent on content and networking instead.

      Reply
  • Branko Zecevic

    Excellent post on basic SEO topics, Ralf!

    These trends are real proofs that webmasters have to be more active on social media sites. People have to realize that building a network or networks of people who trust in webmaster should be their main goal.

    Social media sites are great places to build those connections and networks of people.

    Reply
  • Elizabeth Neal

    Nice Blog on keeping us in the loop on the lastest trending technology!
    Have a great one!

    Reply
  • shane

    It’s very hard work for a small site to get great rankings. Getting great content out here is only a small slice of the pie. The real work begins once you publish. That beings said, I’ve talked to a lot of bloggers who said they gave up on “buying rank” and focused on writing relevant content. The results have been mixed, but they say they have more time to focus on their passion.

    You can’t control what Google or any search engine will do, so stay informed for what they’re looking for and focus on creating great content that meets search criteria.

    Reply
  • Scotty Bee

    I agree with what you are saying, BUT, a lot of “SEO” masters that are continually milking offline businesses to “rank” in the serps is a business modell of the past.

    Although SEO companies have “made hay while the sun shines” the average offline client is getting a little smarter and saying “if he can do that, why cant I?”

    Paid traffic is another trend that really needs to be looked at to balance out the google dance and should be included in all traffic getting scenerios for especially offline businesses. The whole world doesn’t revolve around the big “G spot”
    [Scotty Bee’s latest blog post: 5 Quick Tips For Email Marketing]

    Reply
  • Marika

    Honestly I can’t wait until Google will lose some of its mighty importance. Google does what Google wants and what’s in Google’s best interests. How many webmasters and small businesses lost their whole income because Google suddenly decided that they wanted to change things around. These days Google is all about brands, you know, those big guys who have the money for Adwords…
    [Marika’s latest blog post: Back To Website Building]

    Reply
    • Ralf Skirr

      Thanks for your comment Marika. Many people are angry with Google, every time they change their algo. Here’s how I see it:

      NOBODY lost any income because Google decided to change things around.

      Webmasters and small businesses lost their whole income because they built a business that dependended on the mercy of Google – which was a bad idea right from the start.

      [Of course a lot of internet marketing Gurus misguided us to do just that.]

      – Google is not responsible for anyone’s income but their own.
      – The only person responsible for my income am I.
      – The only person responsible for your income is you.

      That’s the core of all my SEO articles:
      Don’t build a biz that relies on Goolge search.

      Build a business with real marketing and real lead funnels that you can control!

      Shifting responsibility and blame to someone else [Google, Facebook, Squidoo, …] weakens you and makes your biz dependend from other people’s choices.

      Taking resonsibility back empowers you and puts you in control.

      I’ve also written about being in control of our marketing here:
      Return To Accountable Marketing

      Reply
  • Heinz-Günter

    I only can agree. For most small business owners content or content marketing is not on their agenda. Content beyond “about us” and “our producrs” is seen a a necessary evil. Google is changing the game.
    [Heinz-Günter’s latest blog post: Content: Motiviert Ihre Website? Eine Anregung]

    Reply
    • Ralf Skirr

      Great to have a fellow German internet marketer here, Heinz-Günter.

      Reply

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