How Education & New Technology Change the Way We Search
Garrett Sussman joins the SEO Rant Podcast to discuss what does and will impact the way people search on Google:
How educating the next generation about Google will impact the search results
The role of evolving technology on search behavior
How user need and demand for personalization might change Search behavior
The way people search on Google impacts everything. Users changing the way they consume content and search for information forces search engines to show different results on the SERP. Yet, not much time is spent talking about what impacts the way people utilize search engines and how and why people change their search behavior. Which is why Garrett and I talked exactly about that!
Here's a summary of what we discussed.
How & Why Search Behavior Is Changing
How people search on Google is one of the more underestimated parts of SEO. New patterns in both search per se and content consumption serve as the foundation to the changes Google makes to the SERP (and beyond). The best example is Google's mobile-centricity. Google's love for all things mobile wasn't born out of nothing (that's a double-negative - I get it and I don't care). That came as Google saw more people were searching on their mobile devices than ever before.
While there are many cases of Google responding to changing search behavior, the moral of the story is...understanding why users change their behavior and in what manner they do so is paramount for our work as SEOs.
The Impact of the Education System on Search Behavior
It may not sound like a big deal, but how the education system handles teaching kids about search engines plays a huge role in how search engines evolve. It may sound absurd but if you think about it, how kids are taught to search has the chance to greatly impact how search engines react to the next generation of users.
When Garrett and I were kids, teachers forbid us to use search engines for research purposes. We had to physically go to a library and look at a book in order to cite something. That, of course, has changed. And as it has changed it has meant that all sorts of informational content is now relevant to young users. To that, you've seen Google cater to that demographic's informational and research needs by inserting AR elements and Web Stories about animals and the like into SERP features.
However, even today, and I speak from personal experience as a parent, kids are often not taught how to search. They inevitably figure it out, that much is obvious. However, what would happen if kids were taught to search as part of their educational programming? How would they evolve as searchers? Would a more formal understanding of Search and how to navigate search engines produce a different kind of user? You can make the case that it surely would. (I would also argue it would help formalize "SEO" as a standard practice as well).
Search becoming a formal construct (which happens when it is integrated into primary education programs) could change the whole way people relate to and think about search. Look at the previous generation who did not grow up in the age of technology. Forget their inability to or not use technology, but their whole mindset is different. Our mindset will different than the next generation as well. What is novel to us will be considered standard to our kids. Formalizing SEO and search behavior via the educational system could be a major part of forming the mindset of the next generation of searchers.
The Role of Improved Technology on Search Behavior
If the way people search impacts search engines then the search engine's ability to return information in various ways impacts user behavior.
Despite Google's evolving and getting better at showing relevant information users still are often left to have to dig and dig for what they want. Imagine you want to purchase a very specific type of couch as Garrett mentioned on the podcast. You might be left to have to refine and refine and refine your query. Here, you would have to be very very specific in how you would have to search in order to find the couch you so covet.
However, if (probably more a "when" than an "if"), Google was really good at making really specific information available at the onset, users would not have to be as specific in their search terminology. That evolution, all things being equal, would change the way people search. They would have new expectations about the results and enter in new sorts of queries. In other words, Google would train us to change our search behavior to align to what it can do as a result of it returning targeted information.
The point is, Google's ability to serve information (or in certain cases lack thereof) impacts how people search. It's a two-way street. We impact how Google serves results with our behavior while Google impacts our search patterns with the way they return information based on the terms we use.
For more of the SEO Rant Podcast check out our previous episode on what it's like to be a first-year SEO.
Learn more about SEO Rant's host, Mordy Oberstein.