Google turned 20 on September 27, 2018. Its anniversary was celebrated with a small event that also offered the opportunity to sneak a peek at the changes to come in the next few years. It’s safe to state that Google is the most popular search engine in the world, occupying 68.75% of the global search engine pie. However, this wouldn’t be true if it wasn’t constantly working to be the most effective and innovative search engine solution—and it surely continues to do so, upping the ante to stay on top.
At the Google “Future of Search” event, company representatives discussed how Google sees Search in the future, and what changes will be made. Some of them were immediately implemented (like the Google Image update), some are currently being tested (like the Pathways update that is testing in Virginia), and some will appear later. However, it’s still important to know what to expect from Google in the near future.
1: THE GOOGLE IMAGES UPDATE
Google’s Image Search was enhanced on September 27. Now it has tags that show products and product specifications like tutorials, stock images, etc. This should help users find the information they need easier and faster.
If you think that Google Images now looks more like Pinterest, you’re right. However, this isn’t an attempt to make Google into a social network. Cathy Edwards, who leads Google Images, says the shift was driven by millennials and younger users. They spend more time on social media and therefore are more accustomed to seeing such visual content. The new update is supposed to make things easier for them.
Furthermore, Google Images will support Google Lens. Google Lens is a tool that figures out exactly what is within an image. It could help identify the type of couch or lamp in a search result for “living room”, for example. Integrating Lens into Google Images is supposed to make the search results even more specific.
2: THE FEATURED VIDEOS UPDATE
Google does have a videos tab in its search results already. However, the new update is supposed to make this even more useful and relevant. Instead of merely showing videos that might broadly answer your search, Google will now show only the most relevant parts of each video corresponding to your search query. This way, if you start Googling something like “places to visit in Rome”, you’ll see the Sistine Chapel, Colosseum, and Trevi Fountain popping up in video search results.
3: THE DISCOVER FEATURE
Google already has a recommended content feed that can be seen on the Google App and on Android devices. However, it will be enhanced. This new feature will be called “Discover”, and will list not only articles, but other forms of content as well (videos, for example). When you search for a certain interest, you’ll have an opportunity to add it to your list of interests. If you do so, you’ll start getting content about that interest in your feed.
Just like the old recommended feed, this one can be adjusted: you can choose to see more content or less content on a topic, more or less content from a certain source, and so on. This feature can also suggest new interests based on your search results and existing list of interests.
Furthermore, the feature will remember your language preferences as well. For example, if you like to read world news in English, but prefer to read design tutorials in German, you’ll see this implemented in the future. The feature will also show you some additional related content when appropriate, like the names and details of the actors when you Google a movie.
4: THE COLLECTIONS FEATURE
Once again, Google plans on doing something Pinterest-like. The Collections feature will allow you to save your search results in separate folders to access them later. Google will analyse your Collections and suggest new pages where relevant. Collections will be based on the Activity tab—another new feature launched by Google. This tool helps you retrace your search step-by-step: you’ll see which websites you’ve visited during a session and get suggested searches based on your history. The tab will be visible to you only. You can use it to add certain searches to the Collections or delete it if you want to.
5: THE PATHWAYS FEATURE
This new tool could help people grow professionally or switch careers. If you search for information about certain jobs, Pathways will show you the information you’re looking for, along with job offers and training programs located in your area. This feature is currently being tested in Virginia.
6: THE STORIES FEATURE
Google intends to really hone in on Stories. Yes, like the ones seen on various social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. They will be generated by AI based on the images, videos, and articles on a certain search topic (like celebrities, for example). They will also appear more frequently in search results.
7: THE DYNAMIC ORGANISATION UPDATE
If you use Google often, like most of us do, it at some point knows what you’re looking for and can predict what you’ll be looking for next. If you search for “succulent”, for example, you’ll see a Knowledge Graph Card or something similar with the succulent types, details about how to plant them, how to take care of them, where to buy them, and much more. These cards will appear at the top of your search results. Such suggestions are based on the things people Google after searching for a specific keyword. These are the main updates and features that will be introduced by Google in the near future! Hopefully, they’ll make the search process even easier and more enjoyable for us all!