Over the year Google has made a fair number of acquisitions and we are going to assume a lot of these will come into the search engine over the year in 2014. The big ones on the list are, Behav.io, PostRank, Wavii, and Grapple, among others with machine learning and neural computing technology as well.
From the look of it, Google will focus on completely personalizing your search experience, entity based searches, and extend on it’s existing semantic search abilities. Let’s look at how we can set ourselves up to ensure that we are ahead of the curve.
Over the past year we had a number of updates from Google which drastically changed the way we look at our optimization process, the Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird were targeted at cleaning up the results from spam and rewarding clean original content, there was a security update that removed referring keyword data to websites, and over the year Google focussed on providing results quicker to users on their own website with the strong focus on mobile queries.
While Google was busy fighting spam results in it’s indexes it was busy working with massive updates to it’s engines. Most of the updates such as the Panda and Penguin which Google provided over the year were just smaller updates that were re-iterations of their previous algorithms. Hummingbird is the future of the engine and it focuses on a few areas, it will understand what context you are asking questions in and is made to make Google’s database more human relevant in terms of the queries that Google receives.
The three main areas that we are noticing most new effort in are as follows:
Google Now, which forms the basis of them mobile platform that Google is working on and it integrates into all their services right from device based searches to their understanding mechanism.
MyAnswers, the personalization platform which will provide you with search results that are relevant to your specific queries. This will keep evolving based on your searches and the sort of results you like.
KnowledgeGraph, this focuses on the artificial learning where Google understands what you mean in context that the term knight rider in the US may refer to a TV series whereas in India it refers to a sports team.
The Hummingbird Update
A lot of us didn’t even notice when the Hummingbird update rolled into town. The Hummingbird update is a massive update for Google right down to it’s everyday infrastructure, and it’s main goal is to get the search engine to learn how words join together in context. For example when you search for pasta recipes, you want help with cooking, but if you search for “x men days of future pasta” it is probably the movie you’re looking for with pasta being a mistake there. Google already has a large list of synonym based dictionaries and the hummingbird update continues to update those packs with great accuracy and learning. Google moved Matt Cutts, Andrew Ng, and Amit Singhal to the Knowledge Team, so it’s likely they are spending a great deal of effort working on this project going ahead.
The face of things to come
Some of the acquisitions have already been integrated into search results, the others are yet to come, one of the areas that will have a focus over 2014 will be the acquisitions of Wavii and Behavio.
We feel that both of these will be extremely relevant in understanding and personalization of Google’s existing data. Wavii is responsible for understanding Google’s Knowledge Base results and making sense of them. The Wavii relationship will help with predictive answers, as you see now, Google is already displaying more results on it’s own website, for example if you search for terms like Population of Greenland, you would get the answer right on the website itself. These understanding’s of the web are key in Hummingbird and will help power other projects such as Google Now, My Answers and Knowledge Graph.
We also begin to see the impact of other acquisitions like Behav.io, Behavio provides extremely interesting statistics to Google about how people use their devices, applications on the devices, the areas they are in, what people are searching for in different areas, how they are interacting with applications and what they are using the most. All these items will help in predicting an accurate Knowledge Graph that is tailored for each user, it will help Google Now with more exact results, the OK Google results that we get from our devices will be far smarter and pre-emptive.
What this means for marketers
As far as marketing on the Internet goes, it is not likely that we need to drastically change the way we want to work on websites and change the process of optimization we need to use. The way users will interact with websites will come to change as users are driven towards more mobile ready websites and people will look for solutions versus data. We will need to change the way we present some of our data so that we can better integrate into results and we already have a ready supply of tags that are being integrated into the search results from the repository at Schema.org.
We need to look at optimizing the user experience with the existing data we have and not worry so much about search optimization, the year has shown that authority sites are the ones which provide large amounts of relevant data to users and this will continue with better websites continuing to be rewarded.