At Google’s 2022 Search On the company made some announcements about significant changes to how searches are performed on mobile platforms. In the next few months, Google will be upgrading the mobile search bar to give its users more relevant search results and adding more actions they can perform outside of a standard search query.
There are other changes in the pipeline too, and mobile searches are going to become more functional for users with a greater focus on video and image content. These changes will have an impact on many aspects of online business, including search engine optimization for mobile users. Here are some of the updates Google is making and how they will change mobile searches and how customers find businesses online.
Big Changes for the Google App
The different platforms people use and their software ecosystem has created barriers for Google between their search engine and potential users, especially iOS users. People who use Apple phones will often rely on its in-built search tools rather than a Google search on a web browser or its app.
By increasing the functionality of the Google app for iOS, the company hopes it can increase the number of searches performed on the platform and make its app the go-to resource for searches on Apple products. The potential for growth here is huge for Google. Apple’s iPhones are the most popular mobile device in the world. If they can grab a greater share of searches on these devices their market share will grow exponentially.
The update to the app has already been rolled out. Now iOS users can find products and services in new ways that Android users and web users have enjoyed for a few years. They can search by uploading pictures, translating text with Google Lens, or through voice commands. These features will surely generate a lot of new searches from Apple aficionados.
Smarter Search Results
When you search Google on a mobile platform you will soon be presented with a few new options that will help make your search faster or refine the query for more specific results. Users will now see search results and links in record time, with results populated before typing is complete.
Refining searches will be the most useful feature to come from these changes. Google will now wield its advanced artificial intelligence algorithms to help users create more specific searches, offering them a range of suggested refinements to get the information they need faster.
This feature is not available yet on iOS but will be rolled out in the next few months. The search refinement will use geo-location data to suggest local businesses and points of interest related to the query. This should give local businesses with an online presence more ‘weight’ in search queries and help push them higher in the search when users are looking for a service or store online.
Stories for Searches
On social media apps like Instagram and Facebook, stories have become a popular way to communicate. Google is getting in on the act by giving their mobile web searches more context and information using Google Web Stories.
They drew attention to this feature in their presentation, announcing that “we’re also making it easier to explore a subject by highlighting the most relevant and helpful information, including content from creators on the open web. For topics like cities, you may see visual stories and short videos from people who have visited, tips on how to explore the city, things to do, how to get there and other important aspects you might want to know about”. By giving more depth and contextual information to searches Google hopes to get an edge over the competition.
This will give searches on iOS a new look reminiscent of iOS widgets, which may be Google’s true intention with this addition. By making their app appear and function similar to the way Apple’s default apps do on iOS it increases the chances of committed Apple users adopting their search app over the built-in search.
Searching Leads to Discovery
The changes Google are making to mobile searches aim to make their app the preferred choice of consumers, particularly young and affluent ones. By combing social media features into their search, they are making their mobile search results page a doorway to discovery.
Searches will now have text, images, and video search results in one scrollable window. This gives users easy access to additional information and can lead them to new discoveries about a topic. Google is hoping that this makes their mobile searches an activity rather than a tool. Users can now spend time scrolling through searches in a similar way to how they scroll through social media, making the app a destination instead of a utility.
This is another key feature of the update that Google is touting as a revolutionary change in mobile web searches. They stated “We’re also reimagining the way we display results to better reflect the ways people explore topics. You’ll see the most relevant content, from a variety of sources, no matter what format the information comes in — whether that’s text, images, or video”.
Google is hoping that, by highlighting images and video sources to users, they will tempt them away from other search options, most notably Apple’s in-built Safari browser. Though iOS users can still use Google’s web search, pushing them onto the mobile app will generate more valuable metadata. This can be used to improve products in the future, get a better digital picture of users across mobile platforms, and can be sold commercially as market research.
The world of web searches has been due for an upgrade for some time, and it is no surprise that smartphone technology has led to the changes. As more and more people use their phones as their primary point of access to the internet, tech companies are going to have to shift their focus to mobile in order to meet user demand.
In the near future, we should expect more changes, as voice search commands become more common through digital assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa. The preferences of consumers will soon shift again to take advantage of this emerging technology.