To keep up with the rapid rate of digital consumption, Google is constantly evolving and changing the way it feeds information to its users. There were 10 updates in 2023 alone.
At only 25 years old, Google looks a lot different now than it did back in the early 2000s, when search results were often filled with spammy and off-topic results. Which makes us wonder: What will the search engine look like in another 20 years?
8 predictions on the future of Google
1. Convenience before locality
Back in 2014, the Pigeon update sought to enhance local search results to make users’ lives easier. In the future, convenience may overtake locality, with users seeing live quantities of products available to them locally or live table counts in restaurants, so they can make more informed choices.
2. VR-friendly sites (virtual reality)
Just as mobile-friendly has emerged as a ranking signal in the last decade, Google may start to encourage sites to become more immersive and VR-friendly.
3. Further infinite scrolls
Building on what we see now – a continuous stream of results not separated by page numbers – it’s likely that an infinite scroll will be designed to be consumed faster. Perhaps this will follow a TikTok-esque format on mobile devices, where users can swipe through more-specific pieces of information in search of what they need.
4. More misinformation tactics
Google might look to flag or “fact-check” potentially misinformed content and advise users on where to find more reliable information elsewhere. Users have become increasingly discerning when it comes to online information in recent years, causing Google to up their guidelines on experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T).
5. Less ad-heavy
Just as the page layout update of 2012 penalised sites for static ad content, Google could start to penalise ad-heavy news outlets with video-form or GIF-like advertising content that impacts readability and the overall user experience.
6. An immersion-first approach
As VR (virtual reality) becomes more commonplace, Google might offer users the ability to test out different environments, allowing for immersive experiences of restaurants, shops, etc. That way, users can make more informed decisions about where they want to spend their time before investing it.
7. Lifespan as a ranking factor
Brands emerge and cease to exist at a much faster rate these days. Because of this, Google might look to lifespan (i.e. longevity of a brand’s online presence) as a ranking factor.
8. Return of Payday
With the rise of crypto and other potentially risky blockchain-related investments, Google could bring back a new and improved version of its 2013 Payday update.
Summarising the predictions, Frederico Cardoso, senior SEO manager at NORTH said: “In 2002, Google advised, ‘Make pages for users, not search engines’. This has been their main directive for the past 20 years, and I believe it’ll still be around in 20 years. So in order to rank well on Google, creating a user-centric site will always be something to abide by.
“In 2050, Google will likely have greatly expanded on what we’ve seen over the past few years, which is an increasing number of searches returning zero clicks, as Google keeps users within their search engine. Google will present results in more specific, engaging ways that often make a click pointless.
“We can also expect results to be more blended into the content that Google presents, making it less obvious what a paid and organic result is.”