a blue arrow illuminates the way out of a mazeIf you’ve searched for something online recently, you’ve probably noticed how much the process has changed.

The technology behind online search has come a long way.

And it’s quickly becoming a new game.

In our blog, we discuss SEO (or search engine optimization) quite often, because it’s one of the biggest ways to promote your business online. But what happens to search engine optimization when search itself changes?


How We Used to Search

Back in the day, when the best way to find a business was to open up the Yellow Pages, many local companies named their brand with the letter “A” so they’d show up first on the alphabetical list. And then came the next stage, when businesses started their names with “AAA” to claim that juicy top spot on the list.

This was essentially an early form of SEO – an effective tactic for getting more eyes on your brand, in order to draw in more customers.

But, nowadays, things have gotten more complex. If you want to get to the top of the list, hacking the alphabet won’t cut it anymore. Google’s algorithms demand much more effort to get to the highest levels of the rankings – and things are getting more interesting with the rise of new methods people use to search for things online.


OK Computer: Voice Search

In a time where convenience is key, voice search has taken off in popularity. It’s like having your own personal assistant. With a simple question, compatible devices (like smartphones and smart speakers) can provide you with the info you need.

Not only that, but virtual assistants are getting better every day. They use a sophisticated technology called natural language processing (NLP) to learn your speech patterns and recognize your voice.

Although the technology isn’t perfect, it’s getting better every day thanks to ongoing advances in machine learning. The more you talk to your virtual assistant, the more it learns about you – and the better it gets at understanding your requests. This makes voice search faster, more convenient, and easier than typing out what you’re looking for.

Voice search isn’t just some trend – it’s become the go-to method for many people around the world. In fact, globally, more than 50% of adults use voice search daily.


Voice Search Solutions

With more people using their virtual assistants to find information online, you’re going to want to optimize your business’s website for voice search. Imagine the possibilities of having your website read aloud by Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, or Microsoft’s Cortana.

This means the key to voice search optimization is understanding how people use voice search.

For one thing, people speak to their devices in full sentences, rather than just a list of keywords. This is helpful to know when it comes to building your SEO strategies. By thinking of the natural phrases and questions people might use when looking for your business, you can make sure your business listings are optimized to provide the answers they need. It’s like having a conversation with your potential customers.

Local voice search can be divided into several categories:

    • Finding a business’s phone number
    • Finding their business hours
    • Finding their address
    • Mapping directions to their location

The ultimate goal is to create a seamless experience for users, both on your website and through voice search, so they can easily find the information they need.


Looking Good: Image Search

Google Lens Icon for image search

Google Lens Icon

Another style of searching that’s proven to be a game-changer for customers is image search, which eliminates the need to use words to describe a picture or an idea. With Google Lens, you can simply upload an image onto the search bar and instantly receive results.

Go to Google and click the Lens logo (it looks like a little camera on the right end of the search box). From there, you have several options for performing your image search:

    • Click “Upload a file”
    • Drag and drop an image right into the search box
    • Paste a website URL into the “Paste image link” box

This feature also allows for added customization by enabling the selection of attributes like size, color, and brand – making it way easier for customers to find the products they’re looking for, without needing to describe it in words.


Image Search Solutions

Image search ranking has emerged as a powerful way to promote your brand. But how do you create images that stand out and captivate people’s attention?

Luckily, the answer is simple: Add context.

As per Google’s guidelines, the more informative and understandable your image is, the more likely you are to rank higher.

Here are some tips to help your images rank higher:

    • Mobile Friendly. We always bang on about this, but optimizing your website for mobile viewing not only allows for a better user experience, but it can also greatly improves your search engine rankings.
    • High Quality. Put simply: the higher quality of the image, the better chance it’ll rank higher.
    • Not Too Big. Be sure to balance the quality of your image with the file size. You don’t want the image to be too big. Google doesn’t want its users to have a slow browsing experience, which is why its algorithms intentionally avoid “heavy” images on the search results page. If you want to increase your chances of ranking higher, it’s best to steer clear of big, lumbering, slow-loading images.
    • Relevant. It may sound obvious, but just sticking any old picture on your webpage won’t do. Make sure the image is directly related to the page’s main topic.
    • Aim High. If the image is too low on the page, it may come off as less relevant, and lose its chance to rank higher. Make sure to get it up there with the most important content, ideally “above the fold” –the part of the page that’s visible before you scroll down.
    • Descriptive File Name. Most sites upload images with generic names like “IMG_1234,” which gives no indication to Google what the image is actually showing. It may seem like a small detail, but giving your images relevant names can make a big impact in your website’s search engine visibility.


More Human Than Human: A.I. Search

We couldn’t talk about the changing times, and not bring up A.I. (artificial intelligence). As with many other industries, it’s having a big impact on search.

When you search for something on Google, generative A.I. scans through massive amounts of data, then provides answers in a range of formats, including text and images. The result is a user-friendly process that feels more like a conversation.

However, A.I. isn’t perfect, and the answers it provides don’t always represent the issues in an accurate or representative way.

This is why Google also provides its Perspectives feature, which goes beyond simply delivering results from the most popular websites and blogs. It identifies authoritative voices from a variety of content platforms, giving users a well-rounded view of any story or topic.

Innovations like this are making search results much more effective for people, but also adding new layers of complexity. So, how does one optimize for A.I. search?

a robot walks a dog

A.I. Search Solutions

Right now, A.I. is still pretty new to the search game, so its full impact isn’t yet known. However, it’s still basically the same process, so effective SEO strategies still apply.

And there’s one aspect that continues to be as important as ever: Crawlability.

When Google’s “spiders” or “crawlers” go through your website, indexing all your content, they’re collecting key information that’s used to determine where your site should appear in search results. If your website isn’t easy for these crawlers to scan, your content won’t show up when people search for it.

Without this crucial step, even the greatest sites can go unnoticed. It’s like having a masterpiece by Van Gogh, but keeping it hidden away – No one gets to enjoy it. So, if you want your website to be easily found, and to generate traffic, it’s important to ensure your website is crawlable.


Navigating the New Changes on the Way to Success

The world of online search is constantly evolving. And businesses need to adapt in order to stay ahead of the game. With newer forms of search gaining popularity, it’s essential to continue to innovate SEO strategies to stay relevant, and successful.

That’s where Smart Link Solutions comes in. Our team of experts specializes in all things SEO – from design to content to local search. We can help your business navigate these changing times with ease.

Contact us today to see how we can help optimize your website and improve your online presence!