Google, far and away the leader in the search market, processes over 40,000 search queries every second of every day. That equates to over 3.5 billion searches per day, and over 1.2 trillion per year.
Search engines are currently some of the most advanced technology mankind has. Despite that, they’re still primed for a revolution in the near future.
Proactive vs Reactive Search Engines
Search engines will be much more than a white page of search results in the future – they will have to adapt to the way our devices are changing and the way we want our information. This has major implications for Google and Bing, as well as marketers who will continue to compete for search engine traffic.
One of the major changes in the near future, as Stefan Weitz explains, former Senior Director of Search at Bing, is that search engines will be proactive rather than reactive. You can already see the early stages of this in Google and Bing. If there’s an accident on your usual commute, or a significant delay on your train, you’ll get a notification on your phone. Something similar happens when you visit a new restaurant or bar – you’ll be prompted to write a review without even searching for information.
These are very small steps into a future of predictive, local and personalized search functions. For example, if you visit the Eiffel Tower, future search engines will be compiling information without you searching for a thing. Based on your purchasing data, search history and location data, a search engine will know that you’re at the Eiffel Tower. Then, it will compile a list of personalized information, which is also based off searches from other tourists, and present it to you. This could be in the form of historical facts, transit information, local restaurants and more. In this way, it is a very predictive and local experience – you get all the information you need without searching for anything.
This trend is complicated by voice activated search devices, such as Alexa or Google Home, where you don’t even see a list of search results, the answer is simply read aloud to you. This means that search engines must be able to present information for a massive number of queries, rather than serving results that may or may not provide the right information. This marks a change in our relationship with search engines – they become a source of information instead of a tool to access information.
Search engines are becoming increasingly interactive in an effort to make the user’s experience fast, simple and seamlessly integrated into their existing lifestyle.
Future Search Engines in the Business World
You can imagine how all these capabilities could translate into the business world. Let’s say, for example, a CEO is driving to one of his customer’s locations for a meeting to discuss a contract renewal. He puts in the address on his phone’s GPS and plugs his phone into his car’s stereo to have directions read aloud as he drives. At this point in the future of search, a search engine understands where he’s going, what his destination is, and based off past searches and a wealth of other user data from across his many devices, it understands why he’s going.
Then it starts to compile personalized information, as in the previous example, and can read it aloud. This information could include a lot of different things like recent market trends, public financial data and breaking news in the industry. But more relevant to marketers, it could include content like tips for being a good negotiator from an executive coaching company, a piece on how proper supply chain management can help you save money for your customers, or any other marketing content that could aid the CEO as he travels to his meeting.
That last part is important. With all the aggregated data future search engines will have access to, along with their desire to directly interact with users by being a source of information, they will be able to determine which content will be most helpful to the CEO. This is much like how they determine relevancy now, but with extremely detailed personalization and local data.
Search engines of the near future will be highly predictive, local and personalized for every single user. They will be able to determine what’s important, relevant and helpful before a user searches for a single thing.