Search Supplement – October 2017

Alex Quigley

To Affinity (Audiences) and Beyond

After last month’s look back over the progression that Bing has made to expand itself in the Search market, this month we’ll be talking about one of the founders of search, Google.

The purpose of this blog is to understand how Google is pioneering the next generation of search. We’ll be looking at Google’s latest ventures in expanding the search market; through new technology and underdeveloped markets but also how they’re bringing such an expansive market back under one roof with the Google stack.

Google for jobs

Whilst not in the UK yet, it’s hard not to talk about Google’s latest venture into the online recruitment market which has been so heavily dominated by recruitment agencies and the now Microsoft-owned, LinkedIn. Google is known for entering stagnated markets and utilising its impressive resources to reimagine the way things work, just look at its work on automated cars or the development of Android to rival iOS.

It’s important to note that Google aren’t looking to rival job search providers but partner with them. Google will begin to recognise when US users are typing job search queries into Google Search and will then highlight jobs that match the query. Initially partnering with LinkedIn, Facebook, CareerBuilder, Monster, Glassdoor and other services.

You just have to take one look at how the SERP (search engine results pages) changes with certain keywords to understand the impact this could have on Organic Search performance. When certain keywords are detected a large drop down tab appears which pushes organic listings below the fold making ranking for these terms trickier. Not only this but jobs your company posts now might be displayed prominently on the front page of Google searches. Meaning any weak formatting, typos or bad brand employment practices could be exposed very publicly.

From a paid perspective, Google has stated that they have no intention of competing with job search and network sites. However, if Google’s past tells us anything it’s highly likely that they may look to monetise the concept if it’s successful. The most likely solution would be using ‘sponsored listings’ to put ads into the top position of the drop down search tab, further impacting the organic listings.

Voice search… We’re still waiting…

2017 was supposed to be the year of voice search. With assistants such as Amazon Echo and Google Home starting to see increased uptake, advertisers were poised to pounce on a new market to develop. In reality, as we enter the final months of 2017, search marketers are left twiddling thumbs as the era of voice search failed to manifest as the hype from the start of the year fades away. Despite exponential growth in both the number of voice searches and the uptake of voice-activated home devices there is one major limiting factor, a lack of technology for marketers. With no function available from Google or Bing and not expected in Q4 it has left advertisers with little they can do to begin strategising for this change.

Although advertisers have been patiently waiting for functionality to identify search queries through voice all year there are signs that the era of speech could soon be upon us. With Salesforce this month reporting that 40% of millennials are turning to voice activated intelligent assistants (Alexa, Siri, Google assistant) before making a purchase, it’s time to sit up and pay attention. It is rumoured that in Q1 we will begin to see functionality from Google and so as we begin 2018 strategy planning it’s important to consider the opportunities that further segmentation could provide for granular optimisations.

When we look at the drivers behind voice search, Bing’s strategy for making waves in the search market was to leapfrog Google into the voice search market. Microsoft’s Cortana not only powers all of their own products such as Xbox, Edge and Windows phones but also Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. In fact, up until last month Bing powered more voice technology than Google with 25% of Bing search queries in 2016 being voice queries.

In September Google began making movements to sure up its future in voice search by making a deal with Apple, to move all Siri searches onto the Google search network (except web image results for the time being which remain with Bing). With estimates of nearly 37% on voice searches coming through Siri this will be a strong addition to the already enormous amount of searches Google already gets. Whilst this won’t appear as much in Google’s stats, it’s sure to have some level of impact on Bing who already have a minimal presence on mobile devices.

Integration and the Google stack – One tool to rule them

As the search spectrum continues to expand through different mediums such as voice, image and video, so too has the demand for greater control. With an open API in AdWords there has been a boom of third party tools for advertisers. There are currently so many tools in the marketplace that it is simply too confusing and too disruptive to run efficiently. Enter the Google stack.

The aim of the Google stack has been to empower any client to manage and leverage the wide variety of data they have across markets and channels offline and online. This level of integration allows for seamless analysis across markets, in contrast to before when you’d have to analyse data individually for each tool or engine used and often come to repeated conclusions. This new approach allows for new markets such as voice search to easily slot into day-to-day working rather than having to learn a new tool or adapt information to fit with current workings.

Clients have begun to demand greater granularity for better results, with the challenge facing marketers being how to manage the increased manual labour needed to provide this service whilst operating within the same resources. This move to a more integrated approach will finally allow advertisers to deliver results at a more granular level whilst still being able to maintain efficient processes as the amount of manual work becomes more automated. Freeing up search marketers time to focus on driving and developing accounts when it’s previously been spent on admin tasks.

Whilst Google are excelling in the search market the likes of Bing, Adobe, Marin and others continue to keep the pressure on Google to be better. If the brand safety issue that has affected YouTube in 2017 has proven anything it’s that we can all be better, even one of the smartest and most advanced companies in the world. They just may not know it yet. So question, probe, prod and dig whenever you can because the answers you find will only serve to push these companies and your clients further.