Working as the marketing executive at digital marketing agency Fast Web Media means I’m surrounded by industry experts banging on about search, tech and social. My role is very varied; on any given day I’ll be posting on our social media accounts, writing blogs, drafting copy for our websites, running email campaigns, dealing with clients, or organising the odd trade show! I find I’m no expert in any given field but know bits and pieces of the areas that apply to me.
One topic that has caught my attention recently is the growth of Google Now. I actually own an Android operated phone but didn’t quite catch on to Google Now until I started reading about it in blogs. I then noticed that my phone seemed to know what I needed to search for before I even told it what I wanted… spooky!
For those that haven’t heard about or used Google Now, let me take it back a step:
Google Now’s tagline is “The right information at just the right time” and that’s exactly what it is. Google Now is voice activated information services with a personal organiser. But it’s much more than that, as it’s personalised to the nth degree and the system learns more about you as you use it, being able to connect to your lifestyle and show you the kind of information you’re likely to need at the right time. The video below explains this:
It can sound confusing, so let me elaborate. At around 5.30pm Google Now knows that I’m likely to start making my way home, so will automatically show me up to date traffic information from the office to my home.
Not impressive enough? Ok, if you’re out and about in Manchester and you’re looking for restaurants, Google Now will give you information and directions about restaurants in close proximity to where you are. Based on your location, it will also have weather reports ready, latest scores from your favourite sports team or up to date stock information.
It can gather information straight from your Gmail and display flight information if you’ve recently booked a flight, and take it one step further by showing you the best route to get to the airport on the day of your scheduled flight, using the type of transportation it thinks you’re likely to be using. If you’re near the airport (and flying with American Airlines), it will find your boarding pass in Gmail and bring up a check-in QR code without being asked and gives you the weather report for your destination. Once you get to your destination, it will find local events, attractions, and restaurants. It can also give you the time back home, currency conversion, translations and more. Impressive enough yet?
It then organises all this information in a logical fashion using ‘cards’, automatically displaying them when you’re more likely to need them. As Google Now gets to know more about you, these cards are customised and will appear on the search bar of the Google Now screen.
I haven’t been using Google Now very long so my screen isn’t filled with ‘cards’ yet but Google already knows where I live, where I work, and that I drive there; so shows me up to date traffic and weather information. It also knows what football team I support; so shows me latest scores. Here’s an overview of what my page looks like:
In future, I expect to see flight information, package tracking information, restaurant information in my area, events linked to my recent searches, hotel bookings, news, stock information… the list goes on and on!
I’ve heard of Siri, is this the same thing?
Siri was really the pioneer when it comes to voice activated search, but Google Now takes this a step further. Much like Siri, it can answer questions and search the web, but apart from just assisting, it can anticipate your requirements using your calendar, Gmail, historic search and your current location. In this article, Marcio Cyrillo argues this exact point, and his conclusions point to the fact that Google Now takes it an evolutionary step further.
As a marketer, why do I need to know this?
The trend for marketers to analyse big data and determine what their customers want, what they need, and when they need it is only growing and Google Now is adding fuel to the fire with its predictive search capabilities. Search is evolving and becoming more relevant, and although there is still no talk of “Google Now Rankings”, it’s clear that local SEO will play a major role in making sure your business is featured in the right place at the right time.
In the same article referenced above, Cyrillo argues that Google Now could also be the stepping stone to completely changing the “number of links” mentality. The culture of SEO being all about linkbuilding in bulk is dying out and this is just taking us one step closer to those practices becoming obsolete.
For those businesses that still haven’t developed their Google+ local pages and garnered Google reviews, now is the time to wake up! In this regard, any business will gain a clear advantage in outranking their competitor in a local search.
Fascinating… or a step too far?
Google Now can only learn more about you if it has access to as much information about you as possible- this means Gmail, Calendar, search history etc. It could be a major step in making our lives easier… but is it perhaps a step too far? What about privacy issues? How much information is too much information?
As with everything, there’s a positive and a negative side to change, it’s more a question of personal preference. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find this change not only fascinating but mind blowing- how amazing is it that your phone knows exactly what you need?
But what about you? Are you looking forward to seeing where Google Now will take us or are you concerned that Google will have access to too much information about you? Share your thoughts in the comments below or connect with me on Twitter or Google+!