It’s no secret that Google has been the dominating force behind how we search the internet for awhile now. We’ve used it for discovering new ideas, learning about what we’re interested in, how to get to where we’re going, what we want to buy, and even where we’re going to buy it. However, as history has proven time and time again, everything changes with time. The way we search our world has already began to change dramatically and Google appears to be losing hold of its dominance.
Simply put we have more options today that help us quickly find what we are looking for. Let’s look at Traditional Search vs. Vertical Search. Traditional searches are made using a search engine. These have been dominated by Google. When you bypass the search engine and seek out your information directly from within an immediate website you are making a Vertical Search.
According to comScore, traditional searches dropped 3% in the last 6 months while vertical searches continued to climb, reaching an increase of 8%. In a recent report from the New York Times, Amazon has already passed Google in the number of shopping related searches. As the number of quality websites and mobile applications grow, the need for traditional search begins to fade away.
Looking at my own personal search habits, this news comes as no real surprise. A large percentage of my searching is done on a mobile device and it doesn’t involve Google. If I’m looking for news or fresh content I tend to use apps such as Flipboard and Read.it! which provide me with customized content and elegant searches provided in a magazine style format. I find information faster and have a pleasant visual experience in the process.
For shopping purposes one of my favorite apps is ShopAdvisor which not only provides me with a stylish magazine format but it also gives me instant access to full reviews, prices, what companies have the product in stock, and so on. The app will even notify me when products I’m interested in go on sale. This is a service that traditional search simply cannot provide me.
When I’m not searching on a mobile device I still find myself spending most of my time searching content within topical websites rather than Google. For most of the world, search can be broken down into 3 types. The initial search, specific search, and the revised search.
This represents a large portion of consumer searches. At this point the consumer does not know exactly what they are looking for. They only have a vague idea of what it is. These are very generic searches often made using a traditional search engine such as Google.
As consumers discover the websites provided to them by Google they begin to make more specific “vertical searches” on these websites. They start spending more time learning more about what they need to know. They begin to make decisions that will affect the final outcome. What do they need to buy? Who should they buy it from? This is the point where marketers can really help influence the consumer.
Over the years the number of topical websites with high quality information has grown dramatically. Everyday more and more content is released on these sites, making the need to return back to Google during the search process less important.
Consumers might return to Google at this point to make a quick specific search based on what they’ve learned. They’ve already spent a great deal of time researching the subject, outside of Googles domain, and are now getting closer to a decision. In fact, they might have already made up their mind and are simply looking where to get the cheapest deal. The opportunity for other marketers to make an impact on the consumer has most likely slipped away.
We all know that Google is not going to disappear over night. The traditional search still plays a vital role in the overall process. However, the way we use it has definitely changed and will continue to do so. As marketers, it is important not to overlook this change and be ready for the opportunities to reach out and provide consumers with the information they need at the time when they need it most.