When it comes to shaking up the search industry, Google usually relies on the announcement of a new algorithm update like Panda or Penguin.
However, in a move that could change search marketing even more than any of their major algo updates, Google has announced they will soon implement a radical change to their homepage for the first time since its launch in 1996.
The search giant will integrate it’s former ‘Google Now’ app-based feed of news, events, sports and topics based on the users own interests in the near future – replacing the simple search box that has become synonymous with the brand.
The Google Feed – which took over from Google Now in December – has been a mainstay on Google’s mobile apps for a few years now, and it will soon also become part of the main desktop interface in the near future.
In a blog post, Google’s VP of Engineering Shashi Thakur announced the upcoming change, saying:
Since introducing the feed in December, we’ve advanced our machine learning algorithms to better anticipate what’s interesting and important to you. You’ll see cards with things like sports highlights, top news, engaging videos, new music, stories to read and more. And now, your feed will not only be based on your interactions with Google, but also factor in what’s trending in your area and around the world. The more you use Google, the better your feed will be.
As the world and your interests change, your feed will continue to grow and evolve along with you. You’ll notice that your feed will also reflect your interest level for various topics—for example, if you’re a photography enthusiast but just casually interested in fitness, your feed will show that. But if you see something that isn’t up your alley, unfollowing topics is easy too. Just tap on a given card in your feed or visit your Google app settings.
The new design will also allow users to ‘follow’ certain topics directly from search results like sports, movies, music etc… with updates showing up for those topics on their ‘Feed’.
While a lot of these features are already available on Google’s mobile apps, the integration of the Feed to desktop users is a significant change to the way Google delivers its search service. It all harks back to the long-forgotten days of iGoogle – which was a personalised homepage for users who signed in to Google when using it. iGoogle was abandoned in 2013, but now it seems Google is keen to add more functionality to its homepage.
How the changes will affect search behaviour remains to be seen, but the SEO industry have been quick to predict significant shifts in the way people use Google in the future:
— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) July 20, 2017
One thing is for sure, we can expect to hear a lot about ‘Google Feed Optimisation’ in the future!