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AMA Recap: The Future of Search

American Marketing Association (AMA) held a workshop titled, “The Future of Search”. Scott Schaper from Unravel talked about the trends of Internet browsing over the years and Google’s ever-changing algorithm.

Considering Google dominates searches on the Internet with 90% of the market, it is important to try to stay on top of what they are up to. One of the big things they are up to right now is making non-secure connections more apparent to website users. I talked about this a few months ago in SSL Certificate = Secure Connection. Browsers have begun showing discreet warnings. I’ve noticed some people question and show concern over these warnings, while others are either not bothered by them or they don’t even notice them. Google plans to make those warnings more prominent to users in their Chrome browser. I first heard this was going to happen in October of this year but I haven’t seen it yet. Schaper is saying it will happen in January of 2018.

Security was only one of the topics covered in the workshop regarding a user’s experience. We also talked about speed. There is nothing more annoying to me than a slow connection on the Internet. Now that a larger majority of users are browsing on their phones, it has become more critical to test our websites for speed not only on desktop computers and laptops, but also on mobile devices. Because different locations have higher speed connections than others, we must test the load time at various spots (home, work, coffee shops, etc). We want the user’s online experience to be good no matter where they are located. That may mean simplifying the content, however, people on the move and on mobile devices usually want content in small chunks anyway.

Content on a website is important and having a strategy for that content is even more important. Refer to Keeping it Fresh – Content and How It Affects Your Google Rankings for more information. When using keywords on your website, think about what words your customer will be searching for. What services do you specialize in? Obviously, if they are searching for a particular store, they will search for the name of the store if they know the name. But they may search for “grocery store in (city name)” or “groceries near me” or “Which grocery store has the freshest produce?” Google searches have become more detailed than they used to be. People have become comfortable talking to electronic devices such as Siri, Echo and Google Assistant. Because talking to them has become more like a conversation, long form questions are common. At the workshop I learned about the website, answerthepublic.com, where you can type in a keyword or phrase and see what questions people are asking with that keyword. This will let us know what questions and answers to provide in the content of a website. Using the tool, I typed in “grocery store”. I was given 126 questions being asked on Google about grocery stores. The following are only a few examples.

  • Are grocery stores open on Thanksgiving?
  • Can grocery store garlic be planted?
  • Where is tahini in the grocery store?
  • Which grocery store makes the best cakes?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is what makes a website’s content easier for search engines to consume. Basic SEO is actually pretty easy. Good holistic and deliberate SEO is not so easy. So much content now is data-driven and it takes a lot of work to capture that data, read it, analyze it and apply it.

Website developers are continuing to keep up with the technical demands of Google’s expectations while designers and content managers are working to keep the content fresh and relevant. Both of these are key players in Google’s algorithm.

Why do I work at AWG? I appreciate having the opportunity to use my creative and web development skills to assist our retailers in marketing their stores. AWG is a reputable company and the marketing department consists of a great team, working together in a fun environment. Plus I love to eat! I especially like trying new products.

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