It’s staggering to think about just how far Google has come over the years to connect us to the information we seek, or want to get out there to our ideal audience as a business. I got to thinking about some of the changes over time, after coming across an article over at Wired that talked about the latest Google search developments and witnessing someone searching with their voice online on the train recently with what seemed like overkill in detail.
Remember the days before broadband, when connecting to the internet with your 28k modem sounded like two fax machines battling to the death? Back then, there were a few pioneer businesses with simplistic websites that didn’t really inspire you much, but at least you could access some basic information about a company and maybe even get their telephone number or email to contact them directly.
In the early days, Google could not have realized just how significant their use of algorithms to put together researchers and service or product providers could be. The algorithm which looks at various elements both on a website and connections off it (on-site and off-site SEO) has systematically been tweaked to ensure a good match and information providing service over time and is a source of challenge to SEO companies, to stay ahead of the mysterious ingredients that go to make up strong ranking online. But Google’s algorithm is not the most impressive thing about the search giant.
We thought we would take a look at some of the biggest developments in Google’s search services. Here’s some of their more significant changes:
- 2004: Maps made it even easier to locate business who provide the services and products we are searching for in our locality by bringing up a map with ‘pins’ to indicate the business location, with contact details showing up by the researcher hovering their mouse over the pin. This was achieved by locating your device either by geo-location software, or IP address.
- 2004: Local listings: When we search for a solicitor or plumber, ideally we want one in our local area to come up, rather than a big company in America who have a great website and range of services. In recognition of the need for businesses to advertise locally, like via the ‘Yellow Pages’ and optimise their websites for specific locations, Google’s algo started to take account of the location of the business, if relevant and the location of the person searching.
- 2005: Video: 2 years before YouTube eventually got bought up by Google, Google launched a service that would allow you to host and search videos online. The content from google video eventually got transferred over to youtube and Google Video is now a simple video search engine.
- 2008: Streetview enables customers to view google maps from street level as if you were standing in the road, I still find this technology amazing today, the sheer scale of the project is remarkable.
- 2010: Google instant made searching quicker, and allowed google to predict what you were searching for. they even removed the need to press enter to confirm your search!
- 2011: Voice search: This is still a work in progress. Speaking your search requires careful enunciation if you have a regional accent, but for businesses, it means your written text can reach even more people unable to spell or have the ability to type.
- 2011: Reverse image search has moved beyond our capacity to search by words alone. Now we can upload an image and find similar images, sites that use that image or even other sizes of the image you searched for. The system works best with generally available images, rather than photo’s of family, but it also means you can have a lot of fun with this by uploading a brother or family pet to see who might look like them!
- 2012 Knowledge Graph is about name recognition. Knowledge Graph is Google’s information on individual brands, countries and public figures. This is sophisticated step forward in Google’s attempts to make sense, creatively of peoples’ searches; it looks at meaning, rather than the mere words used. People can now ask sophisticated questions which require information from different places. This is in keeping with moves towards integrating Big Data. This is still a work in progress and obviously still more geared to an American audience, according to Wired.
- 2015: Twitter Integration finally, 2015 saw Google include tweets and twitter content in Google search results.
- 2015: API functionality means you can now find cloud based information and related content via social media on the move. API integration is particularly useful for website builders in order to access relevant content across a variety of platforms.
These are just some of the many milestones in what has made Google what it is today. It’s incredible what they have achieved so far, but as their use of big data expands, we can expect even more from them in the future, along with new tools to help businesses improve services for their online customers and easier ways for researchers to get what they need faster than ever before!