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What is the future of predictive search technologies?

By Camille Dawson
Dallas search engine marketing

Remember the days when you had to dust off the ol’ encyclopedia just to satisfy that burning curiosity in the back of your mind from an unanswered question? Me neither.

“Just Google it” is something we’ve been saying for so long, it has actually been registered as a verb by Merriam Webster dictionary.

And Googling sure has come a long way since the invention of auto-complete based off of the most popular past searches. In 2015, we see something much more than a simple result prediction from an auto-complete function, we see a truly predictive search.

Google Now, Cortana, and Siri are all evidence of the direction that the online world is heading. If you’ve experienced Google Now on an Android device, you already know a little about this.

 

What is Predictive Search and why does it matter?

The current definition of predictive search is simply the semantic prediction of needs in real-time through context, aggregated behavioral data, and patterns. Having these three things allows for algorithmic results to serve your needs to you before you need them… at least that’s the idea.

This matters to everyday Google users and marketers alike because in the not so distant future online searching will be changing. Look at the ever growing Netflix/Amazon/Facebook searches and you can see that people are finding what they want outside of Google.

This is subject to change with innovations like what we have with Google Now as you can find things more easily and conveniently though Google than anywhere else.

 

How does this actually work behind the scenes?

The above mentioned context, behavioral, and pattern data is pulled from the following sources:

  • Google Search
  • Mail
  • Maps
  • Calendar
  • Social Media
  • Device location tracking
  • Tons of third party apps Google has partnered with
  • All tailored by the weather/traffic/local info/flight schedules/etc.

You can imagine how vast the data stores would grow after only a few months of owning a phone. Deciphering and using this data is something Google has had a lot of practice with and this is reflected in their current success with Google Now as the most developed predictive search construct.

 

What does Predictive Search actually look like?

Take a look over here and you’ll see something that look like this:

 

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As of right now, Google Now, Cortana, and Siri all operate on a mostly passive level, unless specifically programmed not to by a user.

So far Predictive Search on Google Now looks most like what these above “cards” visually illustrate- suggestions.

You can be reminded about the things you love, receive suggestions about anything such as what recipe to cook tonight, or receive notifications when Google detects you aren’t sticking with something you planned to stick with. And as you probably already guessed, this is likely just the beginning.

 

Where is this heading?

You can already see something similar to Google Now’s card popping up in our search results straight out of Google. But its obvious Google Now and company aren’t going to be made for the desktop, or the phone specifically either.

Predictive Search is finding its way onto all kinds of devices, so it would be more accurate to say that predictive search will be mobile, in the sense that it will be coming with us wherever we go. Photo learning and interactive “card” displays are innovations we foresee happening soon as well.

It is an exciting time to see all these changes within the foreseeable future. Marketers and Google fanatics alike should pay attention to the upcoming changes to be announced by Google.

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