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New ways of searching

By Paul Morris
I recently put a post together on how Search is going to be impacted by ever more features e.g. exactly where you are, the temperature, noise around you, etc. That post got me thinking. How do we presently search for stuff online? How could we ‘search’ for stuff online? As a result I put the following together. Enjoy…

Bing Innovation

Whilst Bing and Yahoo together only have 8% market share in the UK that’s still 1/12 of a very large search pie and Bing’s bottomless ‘got to catch Google up’ development fund will continue to showcase innovative ways of searching.

Examples include the USA only iPad search app, Project Emporia new approach to personalisation, partnerships with sites such as DealMap that brings promotions from sites such as Groupon + Living Social and innovative tweaks such as mall maps. To be honest Mall Maps is my favourite. If I were in an American Mall then I think this simple yet useful idea really helps solve real life search.

Universal search continues to evolve

With the onset of search developments such as Google Play we will continue to see universal search evolve; particularly how it is implemented on tablets and mobiles. Do not be surprised to see a separate SEO algorithm for tablets and mobiles in the next couple of years.

Filter Bubbles scare me

Something I do not have time to go into great detail here are filter bubbles. Filter bubbles can essentially equate to search being over personalised that in turn leads to a skewed view of life and reinforces overzealous beliefs due to a lack of balance.

You can read more about my view on filter bubbles on this very blog . I see filter bubbles becoming more prevalent which is kind of great for intelligent people but kind of scary for idiots who do not have the IQ to think outside their filter bubble.

Meta Search engines will die off

Some people still like meta search engines (we all still use Dog Pile right!?) however sites like Mundu are average and deserve to die (as average does not cut the mustard anymore).

Speciality search engines will still find a niche

Despite my emphatic protestation above I still believe niche search engines will have a place and in fact grow.

Whether that be CompletePlanet (Discover over 70,000 searchable databases and specialty search engines), Ixquick (for the paranoid amongst us), Mahalo (learn stuff you never knew you wanted to learn), SweetSearch (a search engine for students), Pinterest (a way of organising the things you love) or WolframAlpha (a great computational engine) there is room for the niche and kitsch.  

The written search word will not always rule

Who says you have to type stuff in to a search engine to search for stuff? Whether it be Google Goggles for pictures or more voice search via Siri on Apple, ‘Voice Search’ on Android or standalone applications such as Midomi (a music search tool powered by singing, humming or whistling) companies are finding new ways of empowering people to search.

On the topic of Siri, whilst it is currently rubbish by the way (if you are part Mancunian as I am and it does not recognise your voice); I still think voice search will absolutely become more prevalent in the longer term.

I use an example of how things will change from the current help I’m providing to a friend. I’m helping him with some blogger outreach in the tech arena and got talking to a Dutch guy working out of China for vanceinfo after I wrote a post about the new iPad.

Vanceinfo work for Bing and Mango (Windows phone) and they have loads of workers improving voice recognition software. The workers listen to people searching from all over the world. People saying “Call mommy” and then the software thinks it’s “Paul money” will have their search improved by these ‘phonic engineers’. They also help teach the software strong accents e.g. English and Indian. The one I liked was a guy screaming at the phone for a hydroponics shop in Leeds as computer/ ‘smart’phone said NO. Anyway give the software a few more years of human aided learning and improved sound recognition software and I absolutely think the next generation will utilise voice search a hell of a lot more than we currently do.

Social Search

I have written much on Social Search in the past and I’m not going to bore you again hence will only mention a fresh piece of information; that of Facebook’s development.

Facebook is quietly working on a new, upgraded version of the site’s search engine.

Facebook currently utilises Bing search however it is fairly crude and is designed to find site users rather than web pages.

Well if you utilise Google brains (they have reportedly recruited former Google engineer Lars Rasmussen aided and abetted by 25 other top engineers) and couple them with Facebook user behaviour and the huge amount of crop-dusting/ human pre screening that has been done across the web with its ’Like’ button then you have a powerful new search engine.

Google and Social

Again I’m not going to talk about all the stuff I have written on Google+ and social SEO in this overview post however I will mention the massively under reported Google purchase of Freebase/ Metaweb.

Freebase is a free and open database of over 12 million things and is essentially the love child of Wikipedia and the Open Directory Project.

It is part of the semantic web/ future “Web 3.0″ and utilises RDF (W3C spec and you’re best going here for an explanation as its complex). The Semantic web is a key tenant from Sir Tim Berners-Lee and essentially this purchase will help Google take a more structured, rather than statistical, approach to linking the semantic web together.

New ways of engagement

Google et al will revolutionise search by trying not to show websites at all! With the onset of advertising formats such as adwords communication ad extensions, product plus, Google compare and then serving address, phone number, maps, etc in SERPS means people no longer have to click to a website for the information they require.

Now clearly the way the data is shown will have to change and coupled with developments such as html 5 and Ajax Google could then serve videos, maps, full articles, expandable images, etc all in Google itself.

The Unknown

And then there are mad ways of searching you only ever saw on Tomorrow’s World! Yesterday Google announced Project Glass that showcased augmented reality glasses. They allow the wearer to send messages to friends, take pictures and get directions. The glasses are all about real time exploring, searching and sharing and gives us a glimpse at how the online and offline world could work seeminglessly together.

All = Exciting search times ahead!