Google Announces the Topic Layer to Help Searchers along Their Journeys – The Stack Ep. #23 [Show Notes]

local-search-featured-dark-blue September 29th, 2018 Posted by Marketing No Comment yet

The Stack is a weekly podcast where we share and discuss the latest trends, news, and content from the world of marketing, sales, and tech. In each episode, Sean, Tim, and Ryan sit down to chat about the hard-hitting questions related to sales, marketing, and tech. You can subscribe on iTunes and Soundcloud.

In this episode, we share some major announcements coming directly from Google about the future of search, and try out a new “lightning round” where we share some quick thoughts on some of the other major developments of the week.

We would love to hear your thoughts so make sure to comment or tweet us at @Sylvestrer1, @SeanHenri, and @Tendrecroppes or @PepperlandMKTG

Google News

1) Improving Search for the next 20 years

Google recently hit their 20th birthday. You know what that mean? One more year until we can take them out for a drink!

But seriously, the anniversary has caused a lot of introspection at the company and triggered some drastic rethinking of what Search means and how it needs to be addressed. As such, Google has outlined some major updates to the search engine. These include:

  • A shift from answers to journeys
  • A shift towards a more visual way of finding information
  • A shift from queries to “query-less” ways of getting information

Key Takeaway: Google continues to innovate and is future-proofing itself by adapting to the different ways people now search and incorporating features that have made some of the social giants so popular.

2) Helping you along your Search journeys

Of all the big announcements coming from Google this week, this one has us the most excited.

Google acknowledges that up until now, they have mostly focused on serving the immediate needs of the searcher. But without looking at the content found in previous searches, they were overlooking key parts of the searcher’s journey, forcing searchers to re-sift through previously found content and work twice as hard. As they put it:

“Many searches are related to longer sessions that span multiple days, with people coming back to Search to find the latest updates on a topic or explore the range of content available. For example, you might be planning a trip, and searching for information about a destination over the course of a month. Or perhaps you regularly search for “easy dinner recipes” to help you plan you meals for the week.”

To better accommodate these journeys, they announced three very exciting new features:

  1. Activity Cards
  2. Collections
  3. Dynamic organization of Search Results.

Think of each of these as visual tools for helping you navigate previously discovered content and sub-topics of your searched topic that might be worth exploring next.

All three are enabled by a new “Topic Layer” that sits on top of the Knowledge Graph, establishing connections between people, places, things and facts about them.

“The Topic Layer is built by analyzing all the content that exists on the web for a given topic and develops hundreds and thousands of subtopics. For these subtopics, we can identify the most relevant articles and videos—the ones that have shown themselves to be evergreen and continually useful, as well as fresh content on the topic. We then look at patterns to understand how these subtopics relate to each other, so we can more intelligently surface the type of content you might want to explore next.”

Key Takeaway: Think about the ENTIRE customer journey, and how you might serve them along each step. If you neglect the earliest steps in their research, it’s going to get a lot harder to serve them at the end thanks to features like Activity Cards and Collections. Address those core topics and sub-topics now, and you’ll benefit from new features like dynamically organized knowledge graph cards.

3) Making visual content more useful in Search

Sometimes having a visual reference is important in making a decision or understanding a topic, and Google sees this reflected in the search behavior.

“When Search first began, our results were just plain text. But on February 24, 2000, something changed. It was the day after the Grammy Awards, and we noticed people were searching like crazy for Jennifer Lopez’s green dress. It was clear right away that people were looking for visual information, not just plain text.”

In response to this, they have been looking for new ways to incorporate more visual content and tools in search results.  have been working to include more imagery and video in a search.

One of the ways they do this is with immersive visual content with stories – a new feature built on AMP that is almost exactly like the Stories feature on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat.

Another is the ability to visually preview topics with featured videos in Search. As you conduct a search, you may now see a Featured Video carousel that provides animated video previews of the subject matter.

The least traditional but potentially most interesting is the ability to explore within an image using AI with Lens in Google Images. See a really cool product while out for a stroll? Take a picture using Google Lens and you’ll find the product in search results, ready to buy with just a few clicks.

4) Discover new information and inspiration with Search, no query required

Google recognizes that sometimes people don’t want to search… they just to be served and entertained. That’s why we watch TV or mindlessly scroll through the Facebook feed. That’s why they’re announcing an overhaul to Google Feed and renaming it “Discover”.

“Last year we introduced the Google feed to surface relevant content to you, even when you’re not searching. It’s grown dramatically over the past year: more than 800 million people use the feed each month to stay up to date on their interests. Today—as a part of three fundamental shifts in how we think about Search—we’re launching a major update to this experience, including a new name, a fresh look, and a brand-new set of features.”

Here’s what the update boils down to:

  • The new interface is a lot more visual, relying heavily on photos and videos to surface information that Google thinks will be of interest to you
  • In addition to “news” the function features evergreen content that is “new to you”
  • You can customize Discover to show you more of what you want to see and less of what you don’t want to see

Key Takeaway: This means that Google is prioritizing understanding where a searcher is in their journey about learning about a subject. As someone progresses through their journey, it is likely that this content will change to match the stage of the journey that they’re in. This makes it more important than ever for companies to make sure they are creating content for searchers at every stage in the buying journey. Especially as “discover” displaces traditional query-based search.

Lighting Round

In this section, we quickly run through some other updates that we didn’t have enough time to deep-dive on, but we still felt were noteworthy.

  1. Exclusive: WhatsApp Cofounder Brian Acton Gives The Inside Story On #DeleteFacebook
  2. Google Search Console Adds Event Markup Report & Notices
  3. Mailchimp rebrands as an anti-tech company
  4. Instagram’s Co-Founders Said to Step Down From Company
  5. My New SEO Tool: Ubersuggest 2.0
  6. Adobe gets its company, snaring Marketo for $4.75 billion

Listen or watch for new episodes each Friday, or check out the archives to watch past episodes on-demand. Like what you hear? Leave us a review or let us know in the comments!

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Sean is the founder and CEO of Pepperland Marketing, a full-funnel inbound marketing agency, HubSpot Partner, Premier Google Partner and Certified Databox Partner. When not helping Pepperland’s clients generate leads and acquire customers, he enjoys travelling and enjoying the outdoors with his wife and kids.

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