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Sep 25, 2018

Google changes its philosophy on search

This might be underreported and there's so much to learn not only for SEO, but for content & marketing strategies in any digital area. Google itself talks of "three fundamental shifts" in how they view search (in a very bold statement saying "for the next 20 years"):

  • from answers to journeys 
  • from queries to a queryless way
  • from text to visual

All this is hardcore AI powered, and Google says that's the only way to deal with 15 percent (!!) of queries each day that they haven't seen before (I always thought this number were closer to 1 percent). 

We don't know the effects for publishers and businesses yet, other than continue to provide relevance in a more visual way (images, video, stories). But there will be ways to "hack" these algorithms, for example object recognition in videos may increase their search relevance, so i would recommend to include most typical and easy to recognize shots of objects that are most relevant to a story, for example - or use headlines or subtitles. In short: help the AI figure out what it's about, so it can appear in search results, without annoying users.

I was convinced before that embracing the story format (vertical video) and strengthening capabilities in visual storytelling would pay off anyway as these are most suitable for smartphone usage and seem to be attracting generation Z more than long text articles, but now that Google is doubling down on that, I cannot imagine you could be wrong choosing this path. Also, behind these three fundamental shifts, you can see an idea of trying to understand user motivations (establishing a queryless way) from past behaviour and trying to satisfy these with more than just basic offers (from answers to journeys) - something that should be relevant to anyone in digital and is reflected in user journeys and design thinking as tools in digital product development.   

About the fundamental shifts:
https://www.blog.google/products/search/improving-search-next-20-years/

About the increase of relevance of visual content in Google search:
https://www.blog.google/products/search/making-visual-content-more-useful-search/