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Google on the Next 20-Years of Search

     
7:10 pm on Sep 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Google is talking about the shifts in search from traditional aspects to what it sees as the new way to find information.
This next chapter is driven by three fundamental shifts in how we think about Search:
  • The shift from answers to journeys: To help you resume tasks where you left off and learn new interests and hobbies, we’re bringing new features to Search that help you with ongoing information needs.

  • The shift from queries to providing a queryless way to get to information: We can surface relevant information related to your interests, even when you don’t have a specific query in mind.

  • And the shift from text to a more visual way of finding information: We’re bringing more visual content to Search and completely redesigning Google Images to help you find information more easily.

  • It really is worth reading this if you are going to want your site and services to feature.

    One other thing for those that want to know about the number of tests it makes.
    Every change to Search is evaluated by experimentation and by raters using these guidelines. Last year alone, we ran more than 200,000 experiments that resulted in 2,400+ changes to search.

    [blog.google...]
    9:23 pm on Sept 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    engine, thanks for this. I read it over late last night and bookmarked it.

    Also, definitely worth reading are the related articles referenced at the bottom of the Ben Gomes article you link to, which go into more detail on several of the points you highlight.

    9:41 pm on Sept 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    Pallas Athena..
    Will there be time enough for love..Will we be sky..
    10:42 pm on Sept 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    Ah, nice to see the logical foundation - explains the abrupt rate increase in incremental dark patterns such as, most recently, Chrome 69 auto logging in users that log-in to another Google application/framework/property. While 'basic' mode purports to not sync/collect your usage data, the auto log-in deftly side steps to helpfully save/sync it all in G's cloud; allowing G to cross identify user devices and usages.

    See also What comes after Google? [webmasterworld.com]
    11:09 pm on Sept 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    You forgot the " " on "helpfully"..and "logical"..enough to give Hari Seldon pause for thought..
    I always thought that it wasn't because CHOAM was taken that they called it Google and then alphabet, but more that Eric thought " a touch of "subtle" " and maybe no one will notice / care..

    So..who is going to be "Rev Mom", Muad'Dib, and Leto II..or maybe there'll be other matrices indicated for our "delight"..

    Will we dream of electric sheep..
    11:28 pm on Sept 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    btw ..linked from that article by Ben Gomez is this..re increasing the images and videos content in search..
    [blog.google...]

    Which is what I keep trying ( you can lead a horse to water .....) to get people to understand , and wrote again , here,in this thread
    [webmasterworld.com...]

    No , I hadn't read the Google announcement prior to posting in that thread, but it was kind of obvious that was happening and was going to be ramped up, if one was paying attention, and thinking..
    12:22 am on Sept 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    I have gotta say this is some scary sh#t. It seems like Google is trying to become more like Facebook but instead of "friends" pushing crap on you Googlebot will. For images, Google will show scraped images from the open web and then link you with the nearest Google shopping image.

    In the current state, the concept of "keyword => search results" does not have much value but in general terms it still holds. It seems that Google is working overtime to break this relationship. Which to me is the scariest part of this. A major dynamic that was under estimated in 2016 election advertising/fake post scandal related mostly to FB was the fact that ads were pushed on to users at one to one relationship. No outside observer could ever determine who saw what and who initiated these ads. If the "keyword => search results" relationship breaks then a similar situation will arise in search, an unpoliceable playing field controlled by single dominant player.

    Will the average user get freaked out by these new features or adopt them as the latest and greatest technology.

    Get ready organic is soon to be dead and the garden walls are rapidly being built. (is that what DT meant by build the wall?)

    The only hope is that they will mess this up like they did with Google+.
    3:56 am on Sept 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    And here I thought search helped users find my site.
    4:54 am on Sept 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    I am quite startled that it took a number of days to see a post about this. I saw this news elsewhere the moment it broke. The webmaster community is on a delay? This is major major news for anyone with a site that somehow relies or enjoys organic traffic. With this type of shift Google really needs not worry about results quality or algo tweaks. The way organics dropped they are headed towards meaningless. Again, I will say it's amazing to me that we all talk about SEO and organic traffic yet this major major change is so far off the radar on the webmaster community. This says a lot to me about who or who isn't looking at realities of all this. This topic needs images, which aren't here to completely understand the scope. It's about showing less and more of what you already know. It's a win for the big sites that have a full staff and corporate structure, granted. I'm not one of those people.
    7:53 am on Sept 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    I'm not sure how much of this is "blue sky" and how much is likely to have an impact in the near future, but it seems pretty obvious that a greater emphasis on the visual, on sending people on "journeys," etc. will work better for some searches than for others. If Jane Doe is looking at Missoni jackets, there might be some value in showing her alternatives via a visual interface, but that approach won't be terribly useful if she's looking at computer routers or seeking the bus fare in Reading, Pennsylvania.
    8:37 am on Sept 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    I am quite startled that it took a number of days to see a post about this. I saw this news elsewhere the moment it broke
    All members can bring in news and start a discussion. I invite you to consider doing so, especially since you saw this news "the moment it broke."
    8:46 am on Sept 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    Other thoughts:

    1) Some of the things that Google is talking about (more images, more videos) sound like a perfect fit for personalization. If, for example, Google knows that you're using your phone, you're on the move, and you have a demonstrated fondness for videos, it could make sense to include more videos in your search results (obviously, depending on the query: If you just want to know the bus fare in Cleveland or the current temperature, you aren't going to want to watch a three-minute video on YouTube).

    2) Is it possible that imagery (or the lack thereof) might simply be a "tiebreaker" for many searches? Let's say that I want to know about the history of beignets, and there are two sites that provide that information. One has comprehensive text plus photos, drawings, and videos of beignets (historic and contemporary), while the other is just comprehensive text. Even if I'm not a Millennial who grew up with YouTube, I'd likely prefer the former to the latter, and it wouldn't be unreasonable for Google to give a higher ranking to the visually richer content.

    3) Context matters (or should). A query about "statues of naked women in ancient Greece" is a better fit for image search results, and a query about the winner of the Venice Film Festival's Golden Lion Award is a better fit for video search results (such as a film trailer), than a query about subordinate clauses in English

    Bottom line: I suspect that Google's announcement, when stripped of hype, is more about evolution (and expanded choices) than revolution. Let's not forget that search in general looks a lot different today than it did in the 1990s, so why should search in 2030 look like it did in 2018?
    12:27 pm on Sept 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    @EditorialGuy

    What you say makes sense. I don't think that anyone expect search to "look" the same in 2030 but this goes beyond "look". Features like "queryless search" break "keyword => search results" paradigm. This shift is fraught with problems, consumers and webmasters.

    Over the years the trend for Google has been to try and keep more and more users on its own properties. In the past the tacit agreement was Google gets to show and use some of our content for free and in exchange they drive some traffic to us. But that agreement is being eroded. These announced changes appear to be accelerating erosion. I'm not saying this will happen overnight, but personally, I feel like a frog in boiling water, and the water is starting to get hot.
    1:09 pm on Sept 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    The frog boiling began years ago, aided by those that Google convinced to stoke the fuel under the fire, by using schema markup and amp etc..Hints at a short term gain , in return for being cooked in the long term..

    But many frogs didn't want to listen to those of us who said no to Google's trinkets..
    1:34 pm on Sept 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    We'll see. I find it difficult to imagine Google throwing away an existing and highly-profitable product to chase a pig in a poke.
    1:48 pm on Sept 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    @EditorialGuy

    I agree, I don't think this a switch per se, where they will suddenly shift focus. But there is a balance between taking content vs feeding users. I think that Google now believes, given there market dominance, that they can shift the balance to feed fewer and fewer user to external website and continue to take content. This shift will be progressive. Users and webmasters have no where else to go.

    The profitability of products does not grow share prices, it only sustains the price. Growth in profitability grows share prices. It appear that they are choosing the take more and give less strategy to achieve this growth.
    2:01 pm on Sept 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    Which is why over the last few years they have been culling what costs them ( and brings them little benefit ) and begun charging for things that were hitherto free..such as maps..
    5:57 pm on Sept 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    With respect to the suggestion that I "should have" started the thread? Why? I can see clearly how little people are looking at the bigger picture, and rather focusing on the minutia. Caring about the pin hole leak in the hull when you are 100 metres from slamming into an iceberg. This move makes the funnel hole even smaller. All those sites you saw last week or last month? So much easier to go back to those, rather than having search find new or other possible resources that might exist. Obviously under this move, the big guys bask and the internet as a whole, just became a bigger hole. I'm very surprised at the meh attitudes when in reality, the internet just got a whole lot smaller. They can reduce the spam team. No spammers or lean sites are going to get a sniff in this new environment.
    3:51 pm on Sept 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    Posted by milchan in the "update thread"..
    [yoast.com...]
    9:08 pm on Sept 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    I thought this would have already happened by now. It appears that monetizing it has been their biggest challenge. Boy our sites have made them extremely wealthy indeed, too bad we don't feature prominently in their future plans. I suppose it's time they don't feature prominently in ours either.

    "We can surface relevant information related to your interests, even when you don’t have a specific query in mind."


    Yes, this is called spying on your users.
    1:56 am on Sept 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    From the Yoast article
    Who knows, maybe your site can now show up in the search results without ever mentioning your keyword in your content once

    How is this accounted for in the popular keyword ranking tools?

    By the way this is not new, I frequently see "keywords" appearing in GA that are relevant to my sites topic but don't actually appear on any pages. I think the point is that in the past this has been the exception, but moving forward this will become common place.
    2:11 am on Sept 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    The era of keyword significance has been declining for a couple years, especially since January 2018. Tools & services that return ranking reports based on keywords have become irrelevant.

    AI continues to gain a stronger role in returning search results, and as we've now seen by this news, it is now affecting much more than search.
    10:44 am on Sept 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    The era of keyword significance has been declining for a couple years, especially since January 2018. Tools & services that return ranking reports based on keywords have become irrelevant.

    Matt Cutts was talking about "things, not strings" back in 2012:
    [plus.google.com...]
    5:26 pm on Sept 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    Bah humbug.

    Back in the fall of 2008 there was quite the webdev kerfuffle over Eric Schmidt's 'cesspool' quote in AdAge:
    Brands are the solution, not the problem.
    Brands are how you sort out the cesspool.


    At the time exact match domains were lords of the SERPs and many/most SEOs/webdevs defaulted to the view that he meant enterprise sites/products when he said brand and wrote reams on how the sky was falling on smaller sites. Actually, enterprise had been waking to the value of the web for some time - as usual the bloggeratti were years late and wrong in attribution.

    A few of us who were more attuned to to the information retrieval field understood him to mean brand as a recognisable unique entity, a container to which could be attached ART (authority, relevance, trust). This belief was underscored two years later when Google bought MetaWeb. Named entities were the future. As I explained it at the time: all keywords are entities, however not all entities are keywords; and various entity associations would/will be increasingly weighted/critical.

    The shift away from strictly content keywords also began over a decade ago; it was fairly common back when to have a page be returned for a query where the query term was on a referring page and not the page itself.

    Almost all of the recent/current 'excitement' is really just a whole lot of people (1) finally noticing something of what's been going on and (2) another group of people hyping the astonishment of the first group for benefit. As with women's magazines annual cellulite editions it's déjà vu all over again. Truly amazing how willfully ignorant so many webdevs can be for so long - NickMNS's frogs-boiling water comment is, sadly, a best view analogy.

    As Google shifts it's search results content (an ongoing process much discussed/denied here at WebmasterWorld over the years) and increasingly diverts/withholds search traffic SEO is increasingly less about old style keyword driven query results and more about branding aka 'owned' query results.

    As to keyword and similar tools - they've been problematic to outdated to pretty much useless since the shift described above. Rather than use such anachronisms or the illusionary bucket sort data of G's Webmaster Tools/Console I'd recommend that anyone serious about webdev actually pay attention to their own data, their own audiences, and research information retrieval and how web devices are and may be used.

    I often feel as Kassandra, fated to be be forever disbelieved; either I'm just a statistical 'very fortunate' outlier year after year for over fifteen years or I actually have a clue...

    Too many comments on webdev fora are but variations on Ave Google! Morituri salutamus

    I prefer aut inveniam viam aut faciam :)

    [edited by: engine at 7:22 am (utc) on Sep 29, 2018]
    [edit reason] Edit at member request [/edit]

    5:49 pm on Sept 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    I often feel as Kassandra, fated to be be forever disbelieved; either I'm just a statistical 'very fortunate' outlier year after year for over fifteen years or I actually have a clue..

    I have wondered from time to time if some* of those who disagree when we have attempted to get them to stop and think, rather than accept the trinkets and the adsense money blindly, are doing so out of a fear tat should they not praise Google and defend it, that Google would punish them..rather like religious believers are..

    * the others I am sure do so because they are either shareholders in Google,( I remember prior to the IPO who was going to be buying and said so publicly here ) and, or are selling the snakeoil that is referred to as SEO..if enough webmaster's eyes were opened, there would be no credibility at all in selling SEO services..
    Rather than use such anachronisms or the illusionary bucket sort data of G's Webmaster Tools/Console I'd recommend that anyone serious about webdev actually pay attention to their own data, their own audiences, and research information retrieval and how web devices are and may be used.

    This ^^^.. :)

    Not someone else reviews of your sites ( they re only trying to sell you their services, or bolster their reputation, to sell their services to some other "mark" ) but as iamlost says ( and has said before ,as I have and a few others ) all the information you need is already in your logs, and studying your users, and your own imagination ..Every time I hear someone here talk of their "clients", I think .."Hah looking for "marks""..If they knew what they pretend to know..how come their own websites are not #1 , except for their own name or nick..
    7:42 pm on Sept 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    I'm not sure whether IamLost's post is specfically directed at me but it certainly stems from my previous post. Just to be clear, I did not make the post as an expression of a sudden realization that Keyword tools paint a biased and realistic representation of one's standing in the SERP's. I have been expressing this view for a long time, at times feeling like a broken record. The fact that a creators of a tool like Yoast would say it too me seemed worth while pointing out. Because very often webdev's that tend to use Keyword tools also trust tools like Yoast ("SEO" plugins. For such a company to come out and support that position I think speaks volumes.

    Leosghost's frogs-boiling water comment is, sadly, a best view analogy.

    The frog in boiling water was actually my analogy, that Leoghost continued.

    I think the difference between this announcement as compared to past announcements by Google is that there appears to a much more public and intention push to hording eye-balls in then in the past. Certainly changes from naive keyword matching towards semantic search where major shifts, but these were by any objective account improvements. The changes produced better search results that benefited both Google and the Webmasters.

    We know that Google has been slowly and progressively trying to keep users within its own properties. This is not new. We have been seeing it in various forms, most notably but by no means exclusively with knowledge graph. But I feel that this most recent announcement has been the first time that Google has really publicly pushed a change that appears to be nothing more than a means of preventing users from find a way off of its properties and that at the expense of the webmasters that provide the content.

    From Leosghost's post:
    all the information you need is already in your logs

    Looking at your logs is like driving your car by looking through the rear view mirror. The rear view mirror is essential to safe driving as are your logs but if you rely only on that one source of data you are very like to crash. One must gather information from outside sources and unfortunately these source are nearly all imperfect. GSC is not perfect, I agree it is pretty bad, but it provides a source of data and information that simply cannot be gathered from any other source. Your logs will never show you how many impressions your site had in search. To make data based decisions one needs to first understand the limitation and biases in the data and in the tools used to collect the the data, otherwise it will be a case of SISO.

    The other point I made is that the announced changes will further obfuscate the information about how, when and why your site will appear in search. Information asymmetry is your enemy, the wider the information divide the less power one has.

    either I'm just a statistical 'very fortunate' outlier year after year for over fifteen years or I actually have a clue...

    You are likely both. Outcomes are a terrible means of judging a process. If a process is tested many times with each test being independent of the others then yes the outcomes are telling. But in our line of work, each "test" or algo update is completely dependent on the previous one, so there is no way to know with any degree of certainty if an action alone caused the observed outcome.

    Finally, there is no Google dichotomy. One can look at Google and what it does critically without having to take an absolutist position. Google does some great stuff, many of it's projects over the years have helped make the web and web development much better, and other things have been truly horrible. To hold a view that Google is all bad or can only do good is ignorant. Holding such a position (for or against) is, to quote Leosghost
    ..rather like religious believers are..

    Being truly critical means being open to accept either position, or no position.
    7:58 pm on Sept 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    all the information you need is already in your logs

    was not the entire phrase..
    which was ..
    all the information you need is already in your logs, and studying your users, and your own imagination

    Which is not remotely at all
    Looking at your logs is like driving your car by looking through the rear view mirror.

    this part, that you missed off..is "other sources of data"
    One must gather information from outside sources and unfortunately these source are nearly all imperfect.

    Google is not an "outside source"..
    8:05 pm on Sept 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    No-one is being "absolutist"..but ..
    When one has a history of espousing AMP ( a Google "lock in" against all idea of the "open web" ) and when one is entirely dependent upon a Google product ( adsense ) for ones income, one can hardly claim to be able to take an independent view..one is one of many of "Google's digital share croppers"..and one does not then criticise the Boss from whom all income flows and whose digital land one is farming..
    11:00 pm on Sept 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    @NickMNS: my post wasn't aimed at you per se, however it certainly stemmed from your last post as that was what coalesced thoughts from reading the thread.

    And please accept my apology for misattributing "personally, I feel like a frog in boiling water, and the water is starting to get hot". Unfortunately time to edit by author has expired - although I have requested a mod correction.

    While I find myself often of a varying opinion I do consider your comments worthy of consideration and discussion - I like contrary views that make me clarify mine own. And on occasion to change. :)

    Operating a business online has increasingly become more expensive in both time and expertise as competition changes and increases. Similarly traffic acquisition and retention has become more difficult and complex. For everyone. But especially for those who majorly depend on single source particularly Google. What I find fascinating is the number of webdevs who seem intent on replicating the Titanic, rushing full speed in fog into an iceberg despite knowing the almost certain outcome.

    Despite that I enjoy the various pov on the future. Whether we agree or not the fact that all participants are looking ahead is reassuring- so many are so focussed on the now they seem to expect to remain static everlasting.
    11:11 pm on Sept 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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    The "frog in boiling water" phrase has been used for years around here? I have probably used it at least 3 or 4 times since 2004 and before NickMNS joined in 2016..and possibly a few time since..Many others have used it too..I don't think it can be "attributed" to anyone here..
    [en.wikipedia.org...]
    Very few, if any metaphors are original, and certainly not to any posters in this thread..
    This 32 message thread spans 2 pages: 32