If you can’t beat them, join them. Google is becoming more visual-oriented to keep up with TikTok and Instagram!
Google is the number one search engine in the world. As of September this year, Google has been visited 89.3 billion times and handles over 92.42% of search queries across the web. But just because it is number one right now does not mean it doesn’t have any competition.
According to Google’s internal surveys, nearly 40% of Gen Zers prefer to use TikTok and Instagram over Google Search and Google Maps. Gen Z wants visually immersive search experiences as opposed to typing keywords into Google’s search engine. Thus, to keep up with the changing demands of the younger generation, Google is making changes as well. Here are some that Google has introduced this year to reinvent itself!
In April 2022, Google introduced the Beta version of Multisearch. This feature allows users to combine the functionality of Google Lens with the standard Google search engine to get better results. For instance, let’s say you want to search for the blue version of a green dress you spotted an influencer wearing. All you have to do is input an image of that dress into Google lens and then add “in blue” in the search bar, and you’ll get corresponding results.
Google has further expanded on this function with the introduction of “Multisearch Near me” in May. This allows you to see local businesses that offer the item you are looking for. So, let’s say you were reading a food blog and saw a picture of a dish that you want to try, if you search the image of that dish and add “near me” in the search bar, Google would point you to restaurants around you that sell that particular dish.
Providing visual search results
One of the most prominent changes in Google search has been how the search results have become more visual. As of September this year, when you search for a vacation destination on Google, you would see neatly organized tiles—called Knowledge Panels—that show you photographs of that destination, along with a map, the current weather at that place and the historical background of the place from Wikipedia. Google has also said that, for some search terms (besides vacation destinations), you would also see YouTube, TikTok and Instagram content as results.
New features inside Google Maps
Google has recently also announced that it will soon release three new features inside Google maps—Neighborhood View, Immersive View and Search with Live View.
The Neighborhood View feature gives you the highlights of a particular neighborhood so that you know the kind of things you can experience there. For example, if you are in Paris and look up a neighborhood there, with this feature, you will see images pop up on your screen of all the places people have visited in said neighborhood. These images have been curated using artificial intelligence and user inputs.
Immersive View allows you to look at popular landmarks across the world, so far, Google has launched 250 photorealistic aerial views for this feature. The Immersive View feature uses predictive modeling (a statistical model that analyzes patterns in data sets to predict future trends) to inform users of what a particular place would look like the next day or even the next month.
Search with Live View
For those of you who haven’t tried it out, Live View is a feature inside Google Maps that gives you directions on top of your view of the world (think of it like Pokémon Go where you used to see the Pokémons in the real world through your phone). So, if you click on the Live View button on Google maps and move around your camera, Maps will show you arrows and point you to where you need to go. The Search with Live View feature is basically an extension of this. Simply put, it allows you to spot the different outlets (these could be coffee shops, ATMs and grocery stores) in a location using augmented reality (AR). All you have to do is use the camera feature in Google Maps and then you will spot AR tags overlaying your surroundings.
The new direction for Google search
According to the Senior Vice President of Search at Google, Prabhakar Raghavan, the company earlier used to believe that there is a single right answer for things and as long as the user enters the right question, Google can find that answer for them. But, with the competition Google has been experiencing from TikTok and Instagram, it is now evident that search is a system of exploration and that is the direction in which Google is headed with its new features.
Besides trying to add more features to beat the competition from TikTok and Instagram, Google is also trying to work out a deal with the two social media giants that would allow it to index videos from the platforms on Google search.
Whether these tactics would help the company successfully maintain its spot as the number one search engine in the world is yet to be seen. However, there is predicted to be a financial hit for Google, particularly for its subsidiary YouTube, with Insider Intelligence predicting that TikTok will overtake YouTube advertising revenues by 2024. What other business owners should take away from this is that even if you are the best in your sector, it is crucial to stay up to date with what your competitors are doing so that you can adapt to the changing demands of the market at all times.
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