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The Evolution of Search & the Customer Journey

The Search function has evolved dramatically since the 10 blue links. Google has distinguished itself from the competition and became the market leader, and its algorithm has influenced Search and SEO significantly. Previously, we explored “Why do we search everything on the internet?” and now we will get on with the evolution of Search and what it means for businesses.

Key Takeaways

  • Google distinguished itself from other search engines around 2000 and introduced its PageRank algorithm.
  • Google’s Hummingbird algorithm update anticipated the demands of mobile search by enabling conversational search.
  • Until 2018, voice assistants like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant were added to conduct mobile searches.

Like many other Silicon Valley success tales, Google was established in a college dorm in the 1990s. BackRub was the name of the search algorithm at the time, but other things have also changed since then.

AltaVista and Yahoo were among the early competitors of Google, and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) was primarily concerned with on-page elements like keywords. The “more is better” mentality led to unethical SEO techniques like keyword stuffing to raise rankings.

However, Google began to distinguish itself from other search engines around 2000. This included the introduction of its PageRank algorithm, which also considered connections that were off the page, both in terms of their quantity and quality. Furthermore, this gave rise to the practice of “PageRank sculpting,” which aimed to trick the system by constructing internal links.

In 2007, Universal Search was released. That marked the end of the period when search engine results pages (SERPs) only had 10 blue links, and Google began introducing features like photos and news into organic results. Because SEOs at this time were still primarily concerned with technical issues, SEMrush introduced research tools like Domain and Keyword Analytics in 2008.

In 2018, users query assistants like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant in addition to conducting mobile device searches. The factor that has made voice search one of SEO’s fastest-growing segments. 

Although SEOs are still sorting out the implications of this increased emphasis on text-free Search, it is clear that mobile SEO – and optimised local content – will remain crucial, particularly for consumers asking Google Assistant for something “near me.” 

Since that is the solution that the coveted featured clip contains, it gains even greater significance.

With the Hummingbird update, Google resumed its efforts in 2013 to address the rise in mobile searches. It concentrated on conversational Search and natural language. At this point, mobile SEO was a reality, and site speed was a priority for SEOs. As Google started recommending what it believed to be the most appropriate response to a particular query, SEOs likewise started concentrating on placing content in position zero, where it would be highlighted above all other search results. 

Google announced in 2015 that it was incorporating machine learning into its algorithm to gain a deeper comprehension of user intent beyond keywords.

The year when mobile Search surpassed desktop search saw Google roll out a mobile-friendly upgrade dubbed Mobilegeddon, which was essentially only meant to provide consumers with the best results on mobile devices.

Local Search has been growing where it can be split into country, city, town and even smaller segments. This is important because people would like to search for stuff close to their location. On the other hand, local Search has been relevant for eCommerce and brick-and-mortar stores. 

In order to rank higher in search results and reach your local audience, local SEO can help companies optimise their website. Optimising the city and address makes it easier for customers to find the company online and encourage them to visit it in person. Local SEO is essential when companies want to attract more locals to stores because it is a powerful online marketing tool.

What Does the Evolution of Search Mean for Businesses?

This best practice is intended to prevent charges of cloaking and duplicate material. Always verify that all material is identical across all platforms, including desktop and mobile, for extra security. 

Responsive design is one of the most excellent strategies to guarantee this. For those who don’t know, responsive design entails developing a style sheet that employs “media queries” to seamlessly switch designs between a wide range of platforms and devices. Look into CSS sprites to minimise server-side queries if you want to maximise speed and create a lean and mean design.

It’s crucial to remember that above the fold is still present in mobile environments where content scrolls constantly. On a mobile design, it is still advisable to have at least a portion of the text content above the fold to give users a reason to scroll. 

It would be best if you made some accommodations for this on various mobile devices because the psychological advantages and wants for wanting to see what you have to offer aren’t entirely gone.

Compared to text searches, voice searches frequently use different wording. Compared to basic keywords, they are lengthier, more detailed, and more likely to be full inquiries. Since speaking requires less physical and mental effort than typing, voice search queries are longer. 

One of the finest things you can do to optimise your voice search content is to focus on long-tail keywords, particularly question keywords. If you do this, you’ll draw visits from users who submit more extended, detailed searches. 

Long-tail keywords, which often have three or more phrases, are crucial to overall keyword optimisation. Because they are more tailored to the user’s aim, they draw traffic with high intent. Additionally, you can tailor them to your company’s needs, reducing competition on the results page.

Conversational voice searches are used. You should give your material a conversational tone to reach users where they are. A less formal writing style is perceived as more pertinent to voice queries in addition to feeling more genuine and easier to read. 

Incorporating more conversational terms (such as “I,” “me,” “you,” and “we”) into blog posts, staying away from jargon and too technical language, and adding humour to support your ideas are a few strategies to make your material sound more casual.

The many procedures used to improve local search rankings are called “local search optimisation.” Implementing these procedures will be essential if you want to rank at the top of Google’s search results, even if there is no set method.

Creating a Google My Business account and filling out all the necessary fields is the first step local businesses should take. Add images, deals, product descriptions, and even videos! Make sure to include some keywords in the description areas, but do just what is necessary. Create equivalent accounts on Bing Local and Yahoo Local as well. You may rank higher on Google Maps and the local part of Google Search by claiming and improving your Google Business Profile. 

It would be best if you optimised for geo-targeted keywords to target the appropriate audience, including city names in your title, h2, meta tags, and content.

What’s Next?

Search has been evolving since the founding of search engines in the 1990s, and will continue to evolve. But what’s next for Search now? Technology will influence Search even more and many updates including voice search will be more intelligent.

Our next blog will be about the Future of Search, so stay tuned and check out our website for updates.

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