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Google Search Technology

Everything Starts with a Search

By Matt Bush, director of performance

August 16, 2017 | 4 min read

Over the past few years, consumer expectations have changed – and in response, so have marketers. Facing a more demanding audience who expect immediate results, we are now beginning a new paradigm in search we can call the age of digital assistance.

Matt Bush

Matt Bush, google

For the consumer of today, search has become second nature. When they want to know, do or buy something, whether they are making big life changes or looking for the best local lunch options for under £5, everything starts with a search. Mastering search is a moving target, however, as consumers expect better, faster, easier results. We can see this trend in voice search, which is fast becoming a popular way to use search because it is quicker. In fact, Google’s recent consumer research tells us that 83% agree voice search makes it easier to search for things any time.

Consumers already use search to inspire their thinking and behaviours. For marketers, the key is to be ready to help in that moment of inspiration and turn it into action. And note that consumer expectations have skyrocketed. When searching, they not only expect the information to be available, but they expect to access it quickly and easily. How can a brand be in a position to win the contest for attention? There are two areas that marketers can focus on to reap big rewards.

Make the Most of Mobile

Consumers are increasingly mobile, and to reflect this trend, the focus should be on speed and simplicity. Getting the basics right is crucial for success on mobile. A study of 100 top retail and finance mobile sites showed an average load time of around five seconds. Shaving a second off that load time gave a 27% improvement rate in conversions and a 30% drop in bounce rates. This tells us that cutting load speeds is an easy win for businesses looking to keep the attention of the contemporary consumer.

Embrace Machine Learning

Using mobile means that we have more signals of intent and more data to work with than ever before. To be able to effectively understand and use this vast quantity of data, we need machine learning. It can analyse highly complex patterns of consumer behaviour to surface actionable insights that help us to understand and assist the consumer in ever more effective ways.

Armed with such insight, brands can personalise content and ads for the consumer, identify the best potential customers, make sense of multiple signals of user behaviour and combine this intelligence to identify the right message at the right moment for a given business. If mobile has been the transformative technology of the past ten years, machine learning will be for the next.

These are the two pillars on which to build a perfect search strategy. The best use of search will help to create individual experiences and – crucially – remove the friction between inspiration and action. Assistive technologies will play an increasing role in how we interact with each other and with consumers. Each interaction with a consumer, therefore, needs to be optimised to be seamless, making the experience as easy and effective as possible.

The search journey is far from over; we have a lot to learn. We need to educate consumers and learn the new technologies that will be coming in years to come. Taking action now to get the basics right and embrace transformative technology will help brands to make the most of the new age of assistance and ride the ever changing wave of search.

Matt Bush is the director of agencies at Google UK

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