Google is changing. The future of Google search results is unknown by most. In fact, I’m willing to bet that the team at Google themselves don’t know exactly where it will go.
Now you may be saying, “How could they not know what the future of Google search results looks like?”
Great question. Did you know that in 2017 Google conducted over 270,000 algorithm experiments? That adds up to approximately 740 search experiments per day! Out of all these experiments, 2,400 changes became part of Google’s search algorithms. That equals approximately 7 updates every day.
7 changes, every day, to one of the most complex algorithms ever created? That’s impossible to keep up with. Google has a countless number of artificial intelligence systems running these changes.
Related Post: Is Google’s New AI “AutoML” Actually Skynet?
Because of this, Google doesn’t always know what changes will take place. Pretty crazy, right?
Although no one knows the future of Google search results, I want to share a couple of my predictions in this post.
My Prediction for the Future of Google Search Results
#1. Image thumbnails in Google search results = Higher ranking.
I’ve mentioned this before, but now it looks like it’s starting to happen. A recent report by Mordy Oberstein from RankRanger shows that Google’s mobile search results now show image thumbnails 45% of the time. That’s a 183% increase in the chances you’ll see these thumbnails for yourself.
What does this mean? This means that you need to make sure to set a featured image on every page, even if you choose to not make it visible on the page. In the future, content found on search results will rank high if it has a featured image to display as the thumbnail.
#2. The “First page” of Google search results will no longer be a thing.
If you’ve noticed on your mobile device, there are no longer pages of search results listed on Google. Today it’s a button that says, “More results.” Say goodbye to the classic, beautiful search results page links:
To take this a step further, the “More results” button will disappear, and it will turn into an infinite scroll option, more like Instagram. I’ll explain.
People love to scroll, there’s no denying it. As Google prepares to implement thumbnails into the search results, it will look and feel more like Instagram already. By making it an infinite scroll, it will ensure that people find what they’re looking for quickly, efficiently and the way they like to find information. (That is Google’s ultimate goal.)
If you want to have your results show up higher in this infinite scroll Google world, it’s time to learn more about alternate ways to rank; aside from using keywords. I wrote a blog post on this here: It’s Time to Stop Trying to Rank for Keywords
#3. We’re going to see more answers in search results.
This is the greatest feature Google has added in the past few years. Having answers to questions right in the search results without having to visit a particular website or reading through more than a few sentences is a search results game changer!
This feature has changed the way most people search. Actually, my first and second points above do not matter IF the answer you’re looking for is automatically displayed by Google at the top of the page.
We’re going to see much more of this. The answers displayed with get better and better. Make sure you know how to rank for this. I wrote on this topic previously, you can read the blog post or listen to the podcast episode here: How Can My Website Answer People’s Questions on Google?
#4. Local results will become king.
We’re already starting to see local search dominate the results pages. This is especially true with mobile devices. The search results are close to you.
When you search “cool shopping mall” and you’re physically in Florida, you’re not going to see a page that ranks high for “cool shopping mall” if it’s in California. You’re going to see the closest (optimized) malls to your current location. 4-5 years ago, you would have seen results from anywhere in the world.
This is a topic that I am still learning. I learn a lot from Neil Patel and he happens to have the best blog post I’ve ever read on this topic. You can read it here to learn more about ranking for local search.
Google is changing. Stay ahead of the curve.
- Add featured images that Google can use as Thumbnails in the future of search results.
- Don’t fixate on the first page of search results; it will be going away.
- Optimize to answer people’s questions in Google search results.
- If you’re local, develop your long-term strategy for ranking to be found.
I hope that the 4 predictions I shared above challenge you and help you to prepare for the future of Google search results!