The future is now -- Google Now that is.
Recently, Google has been amping up its marketing efforts for Google Now, a digital personal assistant with seemingly psychic abilities. Ads for Google Now, which is roughly comparable to Apple's Siri, appear during prime time television shows, on the side of iconic New York City taxis, and plastered across billboards and banners in major cities. While the continued rivalry between Google and tech giant Apple continues to rage on, one thing remains certain: Google is serious about this app.
Google Now isn't anything "new," per se. In fact, the mobile app has been around since 2012, but has yet to gain much, if any, popularity until now. The app is available for iOS, Android, and of course Google Glass and Google Watch. It can also be downloaded and installed on a desktop computer.
Perhaps the biggest difference between Google Now and Siri is the delivery of personalized information. Google Now provides information such was weather and traffic updates, flights, appointment reminders, and package tracking via "cards." The information contained on each card is taken from a number of sources, including a user's Gmail account, location, and previous search history. This allows Google Now to serve up relevant, personalized information to the user before they even think to ask for it. The app silently gathers data in the background of the user's smartphone desktop, which it then uses to anticipate the user's needs.
However, this isn't Google's first rodeo in regards to "predictive search." Many are already familiar with AutoComplete and Instant Search, search features that are able to predict what kind of information the user is seeking and provide related results they may be interested in. This technology was first introduced in 2004, but it wasn't until Instant Search was released, in 2010, that users began seeing highly personalized and location-based results.
What does this mean in terms of SEO? With the trend towards more personalized, localized, and natural language search engine queries, SEO has had to adapt over the last several years. Markets are now focusing on optimization for long tail keywords and more natural, conversational queries, which helps to ensure a stronger presence on Google Maps and Local. Equally important, marketers must ensure their site and content is optimized for viewing on smartphones and other mobile devices such as tablets. This is especially true for local, "Mom and Pop" businesses.
The internet and the way it's used are constantly evolving, leaving marketers scrambling to adapt. Paid advertisements and pop-up ads are so early to mid 2000s. In fact, research has shown that an estimated 70% of customers prefer to get information about a company from content rather than advertisements. As the demands and behavioral patterns of customers change, so too do SEO and content marketing trends.
While it's unclear who will come out on top in the Google versus Apple rivalry, or what SEO and content marketing trends 2015 will bring, one thing is clear: the times, they are a changin'.