In its 20th anniversary and future of search event, Google presented some new search features. While some of these features are new, some are either adaptions or expansions of already existing capabilities while some have either been borrowed or influenced by the products of competitors such as Snap and Instagram.

Ben Gem, VP of search presented a short historical overview of Google’s aim and methodology for organizing information. He then presented conceptual buckets shaping the next generation of search capabilities. These three “search shifts” are –

  • From answers to journeys.
  • From search questions to questionless discovery.
  • From text to visual content.

Personalizing the ‘search journey’

A few years ago, Microsoft found that search wasn’t a one-off behavior. Its search confirmed that people were performing numerous queries over a number of sessions to complete tasks such as looking for a job, planning a wedding or their summer holidays. At present, Google has reflected on that idea in two interrelated search announcements-improved Collections and Activity Cards.

Activity Cards shall appear “where you let off in search”, displaying your previous websites or pages and past queries. Google states that they won’t appear each time for every query and you can edit and remove these results from the Cards.

Collections were already there, but it’s unclear about the exact number of people utilizing it.

Collections enable users to save and organize content on their mobile phones. The latest version of Collections is closely related with Activity Cards. Now you will be able to save pages to your Collections from Activity Cards. Suggestions on related topics will also be available making it useful for shopping specific products like home appliances and cars.

Google is also including a “topic layer” to knowledge graph. According to 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.

Google Feed is rechristened as ‘Discover’

Google disclosed that Google Feed had 800 million monthly active users across the world. They stated that the feed is a major source of traffic for third-party publishers. Yesterday, Google announced a new name and some upgradations to Google Feed. Discover, the new product name shall appear on the mobile version of Google’s home page.

Apart from the new name, there are enhancements in the design and inclusion of new user controls and capabilities. Each content item or news will have a topic heading which is a search query, to know more about a specific topic. As a user, you can also follow topics and inform whether you want to view more or less content on a specific topic. Google shall be adding more video content to the feed.

Video Search: Following Snapchat & Pinterest

The third set of announcements were centered around visual search and discovery. These updates and modifications have been to an extent inspired by Instagram, Pinterest, and Snap.

Following AMP stories, Google is extending their usage in search results, as of now focusing on athletes and celebrities. Stories is a visually engaging mobile format which includes video and can be swiped.

Google also mentioned that it is using computer vision to detect important segments of videos for prompt review in search results. Known as “featured videos”, it will enable users to quickly find those videos which are related with their interests by displaying on-point sections. They also mentioned that Google images are being updated this week in order to “show more context around images”. Google aims to provide users with more information and help them to take action on mobiles as well as desktop.

Google also announced that Google Lens is being added to Google Images for assistance in visual searching on any object in a picture. In case Lens gets a desired product or image wrong, you will be manually able too show the particular search object in order to redirect Lens to it.

Other Features

Google concluded with enhancements to its Job search capabilities to display to job searchers educational or job-training opportunities related to specific openings in their vicinity. The new initiative has been named Pathways. To enhance its job-training opportunities in search, Google has entered into tie-ups with the State of Virginia, local employers based in Virginia, Community College System and Goodwill.

Google is also expanding its SOS and Public Alerts for including flood warning through the usage of ultra-modern data modeling to show possible extent and progress of flood paths and consequent damage.

It is launching this program in India in partnership with the country’s Central Water Commission.

What does it signify for marketers?

Google is coming up with more structured content in search results as well as pre-empting or suggesting queries for generating extra search sessions. Usual blue links on mobile devices will be ignored. All these features will also produce potential new contextual ad inventory for marketers.


Ritu from PageTraffic is a qualified Google Ads Professional and Content Head at PageTraffic. She has been the spear head for many successful Search Marketing Campaigns and currently oversees Content Marketing operations of PageTraffic in India.