What’s going on in the world of Search?
What’s going on in the world of Search?

Richard Conway reviews the latest exciting developments in the world of Search, and makes some searching predictions for 2017.

It’s not news that Google is looking for ways to disrupt the online marketplace. 

It started off earlier this year with things such as Google expanded text ads, green paid ad labels and updated Google Panda (an algorithm that measures the quality of your site). 

Now, Google is delving deeper into the search experience and expanding it beyond the online environment. 

As a specialist search agency, we live and breathe all these updates. However, if you are a small business owner it is difficult to keep up to date with everything. 

This month I’ve therefore selected a few recent changes that may be of interest to small and medium size businesses.

Google Penguin 4.0

Google Penguin is designed to seek out those websites that spam search results. It was first introduced in 2012 and has been updated a couple of times since. 

Penguin 4.0 is focused on over-optimised sites that either use keywords too frequently and in unnatural places or have too many external links to the site. 

What this means is that Google will locate these sites and demote them on the search rankings. Previous versions of Google’s Penguin would update intermittently, but the new version updates in real time. So as soon as the site is indexed, Google is able to update it in its database and either lift or incur a penalty. 

Mobile First

More and more time is being spent surfing the web on mobile devices. According to the 2015 Consumer Barometer one in every two searches in New Zealand is now done on a mobile device. It is not surprising, therefore, that Google has recently revealed that it will be rolling out a separate mobile search index. What is surprising however, is that this new mobile index will become Google’s primary index! 

Whilst we do not know exactly when the new index will be rolled out, we are reliably informed it will be within a matter of months.

Pixel Smartphones

Smartphones are the technology of today. It’s very rare that you see anyone who doesn’t have a smartphone. If they do, it probably looks like a kid’s toy phone. So it’s not surprising that Google got involved. Recently it has released Pixel smartphones that, like their predecessors Nexus, have both security and Android updates directly from Google. 

Pixel smartphones also have “exclusive” software features that include Google Assistant (which you can download on a standard Android phone if you have the knowhow), and advanced camera features. It will also be the only phone to connect into Daydream View headsets. 

The phone is available from October 20, so only time will tell how well the tech giant has made its latest smartphone.

Google Wi-Fi

Google Wi-Fi promises to blanket your home with Internet, optimising the connection for devices that are connected. Depending on the size of the house, additional Google Wi-Fi points may be required, but all are synced to determine the best path for data. Google Wi-Fi can be controlled via your mobile phone, using an app. This means when you’re at the dinner table and the kids are on their phones you can disable the connection for their devices. It might also be useful for ensuring employees’ attention is on the right point too. 

Google Home smart speaker

Google Home has just been launched as competition to Amazon Echo. It uses voice-activated technology to add an event to your calendar, set the temperature of your thermostat, or stream your favorite song. The Google Home smart speaker can be linked to any speaker with Chromecast Audio Streamer plugged in – meaning you can create stereo sound throughout your home. Not only that, it integrates with your phone, giving you greater integration of your technology. 

Google really is aiming to become a platform that touches all aspects of our lives.


Speculation is showing that it isn’t just Google who is diversifying its proposition; Amazon isn’t far behind. Following the release of the Echo device, rumours have it that Amazon will be looking to give the on-demand music service pool a go. This comes as it has a streaming service that is aimed specifically at Echo users, giving them a bigger catalogue of music and connecting the service into the other features of the Echo, such as the voice-activated functionality and the quick connection to the Amazon website. 

Recent data also shows that in the US, more product searches start on Amazon than they do on Google – it might be another avenue for Amazon to diversify into. We will be watching this space to see what comes next! 

What is next?

Google has recently published a patent for assessing social interactions that can be fed into search rankings. What this means is that Google could assess what is happening on social media sites, blogs, emails and chat functions in order to create a social graph that affects the search results that are presented. 

Not only that, the things that people you’re connected to like and engage with could impact your Google rankings. If this does come to light it could completely revolutionise the way we engage with social media and search, and would have its advantages for business. 

At this stage though, it’s just a patent, so we’ll have to wait and see. 

With more doors opening and an ever growing online business place, it is no wonder that large companies and organisations such as Google and Amazon are trying to make the most of being the big fish. Given how fast technology changes, it’s a smart move for them to continuously be looking at new ways to diversify their portfolio. 

No matter whether Google does go into the social sphere, or Amazon goes more into the online media service space, we’re excited to see what comes next. 

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