There’s no denying that Google is a brand synonymous with web searching. Each day, around nine billion searches globally get conducted on the world’s best-known search engine, typically from mobile devices and desktop computers.
However, the way that everyone uses search engines is evolving. People are no longer simply typing in some keywords or phrases into a text box; for example, it’s possible to conduct searches by submitting images.
With that in mind, what’s in store for the future of Internet search? What can the world expect to see from the big names in Web searching like Google and Bing? Take a look at the following developments and future predictions to gain a deeper insight into the subject:
Evolution From Search Engine To Portal
There was once a time when you went on a search engine, typed in your query, and you’d get displayed a long list of results separated by pages.
Today’s search engines like Google, Bing, and even former market leader Yahoo now give you access to a comprehensive portal, designed to add value to your web searches.
In recent news, Bing announced news of their game-changing Bing AI search – a chatbot that uses AI to give you answers to your questions without needing to spend lots of time researching the Web.
Expanding Non-Text Search Capabilities
Most people familiar with search engines know they must type in text-based queries to receive results. However, some of those Web users may not realise that typing in some keywords or phrases isn’t the only way to search the Internet for what they want to know!
For example, search engines like Google have long allowed people to search by uploading images or speaking into devices like smartphones for voice-based searches.
In the future, non-text-based searches will expand to cover a broad range of sources like charts, infographics, video clips, and more.
People commonly ask questions in their Web searches, such as “who invented the Internet” or “why is it so expensive to buy an electric car.”
Google and other search engines have evolved to provide natural-sounding answers to those search engines. But it’s likely they will evolve further to become comprehensive answer engines rather than mere search engines with a few bolt-on features.
Website owners must consider honing their content to become more inclusive to future answer engines. Thankfully, they can easily find primers on how SEOs can optimise for answer engines and start getting to work on that sooner rather than later!
Zero-Click & Zero-Tap Search Results
One of the bugbears that Web users have when searching the Internet is needing to dedicate lots of time to finding relevant results to their search queries.
While it’s true that search engines have evolved to the point that they’re now providing better quality results, they are still far from perfect. People still need to click or tap through to various websites on the SERPs (search engine results pages) to get their answers.
The future of Internet search will mean that most people can enjoy zero-click or zero-tap results. In other words, they’ll get their answers (or a summary of them) at the top of all SERPs, thus concluding their search exercise.
More Emphasis On Local Searches
Assume that you want to treat someone special in your life to a delicious and memorable meal somewhere, perhaps to celebrate a significant achievement or just as a thank you.
The last thing you want to do is head to your nearest fast-food establishment, but where should you go? Thankfully, the top search engines have got your back with relevant local search results for queries like “nearest Italian restaurant to me.”
In the future, there will be greater emphasis on local searches, thanks to the advancement of technology like predictive searches and natural language processing.
Data-Driven Search Results
The trouble with the Internet is that anyone can publish anything on it and claim that what they’ve written is factual. Tomorrow’s search engines will need to work hard to provide Web users with results that are both relevant AND reliable.
One way for them to achieve that goal is by providing data-driven search results.
For example, they could provide one-click or one-tap results with a summary of information backed up by data or facts from a known, genuine source, such as a government department.
Increased Natural Language Processing
There’s no avoiding the fact that search engines are powerful computers. When you get SERPs from your search queries, an algorithm returns what it thinks are the answers you seek. As you likely know, those SERPs aren’t always relevant to your queries!
Future iterations of existing search engines will increasingly harness NLP (natural language processing) technology to provide results in a way that humans will better understand.
NLP SERPs can have many practical uses, such as answering questions written in a specific dialect that other regional users may not understand.
Increased User Privacy And Security
Privacy and security have always been hot topics in the IT world, and they will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. People worry that the information they type into a computer may end up in the wrong hands.
Search engines still have some work to do if they want to gain people’s trust on their platforms. For example, users want to be sure that their search history doesn’t get recorded if they explicitly request that.
More Niche Search Engines
Finally, the future of Internet search will see more niche search engines launching and gaining market share. Google and other search engines are good all-round platforms to use, but there will be times when Web users need to search for specific answers.
For example, a car restoration company may want to use a search engine that provides links to sellers of discontinued or “new” old parts stock for classic cars.
The above is by no means an exhaustive list of what’s around right now and what to expect in the future of search engine technology. It’s a round-up of likely current and future advances that will shape how people use search engines over the next five to ten years.