I was asked recently what I see as the future of eCommerce and search. In short, it’s data.

The biggest mistake people make in search is thinking Google is one step ahead. In actual fact, Google updates its algorithms based on how people interact with it. So, in theory, by using data correctly you can out Google Google.

The customer profile will be more important than ever

If you know what your customers looks like, how they like to interact, what devices the use (and at what time), Google doesn’t stand a chance!

Data can also help with your forecasting – you can use it to estimate traffic to your site, predict what products will sell well, and factor in for special occasions such as the holidays and seasonal events. This something Amazon does really well using Amazon Web Services.

Although you need to make sure you segment your data and create user profiles, when you’re collecting data make sure you’re looking at the quality, not just the quantity, and focus on one campaign at a time.

This is the simplest way to get more out of your marketing spend in SEO and PPC. But don’t rely too heavily on automation.

Stephen Kenwright described Google’s relationship with automation like Isaac Asimov’s Laws of Robotics:

  • A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  • A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  • A robot must protect its own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Translated, this is what Google’s Laws of Automation look like:

  • Google must do what’s right for Google
  • Google must do what’s right for a user except where this would conflict with the First Law.
  • Google must do what’s right for those who pay Google, as long as this does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Know your customer, and Google is yours for the taking.

There will be a shift from authority to relevancy

The more relevant the link, the more traffic flow will flow through it. If you get 50+ links from random bloggers, does that weigh the same as a link from the BBC? No!

The BBC link wins every time. But, in the same line of thought, does it make sense to weigh a link from a travel site to a finance site more than a link from a blog that talks about money? It shouldn’t, right?

Well, depending on your DA, it does.

Currently, Google ranks on high authority links pretty much indiscriminately. But when you think about the traffic the travel site will be passing to the finance site, the bounce rate and CRO must be ridiculous. It won’t be long before Google won’t appreciate a diverse link profile as much as it will relevant links that pass higher amounts of convertible traffic. This will also help end the war between journalists and PRs.

So many journalists now are picking up on digital PR, fighting back against asking for a link. To me, this makes no sense – they’re getting free content, so why bite the hand that feeds?

If you make it so that a journalist’s piece won’t make sense without linking back to you, they’ll have no choice but to do so if they want to cover the story.

There will be a voice crack

People will realise that voice isn’t that big of a deal. Stats suggest that by 2020, roughly 50% of searches will be voice searches. What we don’t look at is what those searches actually look like.

At the moment, what is being counted as voice searches are simple action tasks like creating a to-do list, managing calendars, checking out sports scores, using a calculator, and asking for information about local places.

Nearly half of interactions with an assistant included both voice and touch input. Only 8.1% of voice assistant users actually bought products with their assistants and 90% of those people used Alexa. So, to look at improving your sales in voice, you need to look at selling on Amazon first.

Amazon’s hold over eCommerce will only grow

Nearly 62% of people start shopping for a product on Amazon before they look on Google. This has massively increased from 2015, when that number was only 45%. 90% of your customers will look at your site, and then check Amazon to see if they can find it cheaper!

Why is Amazon outstripping Google in the eCommerce sphere?

Amazon cares only about buyers – it doesn’t care if you spend thousands in advertising, it doesn’t care if you’re a massive brand, it doesn’t even care if you’re an Amazon own brand.

If users are buying your products over others, you’ll be rewarded with a higher ranking. And that’s why Amazon still and will keep beating Google (see laws stated above).

The start of the digital high-street

In the long run the high street will eventually have to merge with digital. If it doesn’t, the high street will die out. Google is already using AR and reviews in Google Maps – how long do you think it’ll be before it brings that to shopping?

But what’s the best way to bring digital into the shops? Bring all the benefits of eCommerce and all the benefits of the high street together.

When a customer walks into a store, CCTV could be used to pick up their biometrics and start creating a profile. As the customer shops, this profile could be enhanced with smaller cameras embedded in shelves, which could pick up the customer’s likes and dislikes around the shop, reading emotions through facial reactions to different products.

This same concept could feed into an interactive mirror in a changing room. The mirror might suggest certain things – for example, because the customer likes X they should buy Y. The customer should also be able to access the same level of information about the product as if they were buying it online, such as if the product is available in a different size.

Finally, customers should be able to buy by selecting which items they want and ‘check out’ there and then. It might sound like something out of Minority Report, but it’s not. AmazeRealise has already created Match, which does exactly that!

Welcome to in store search optimisation.

So, when you ask what we should expect for search and eCommerce:

  • Digital will meet the high street. If it doesn’t, the high street will die out, but if the high street does merge with the digital sphere, it will start the rise of in-store search optimisation.
  • Amazon’s hold over eCommerce will grow stronger and when the eCommerce world understands that, SEOs will start moving our focus from Google and Bing to Amazon.
  • Because of the rise of Amazon, the world will realise that, at the moment and for the foreseeable future, voice search isn’t that big of a deal, and certainly not a big money maker… Unless your customers own an Alexa and you sell on Amazon.
  • Back in more traditional realms of link building, the more relevant the link the more traffic flow will flow through it and hopefully, it will end this war between journalists and PRs

Finally, and most importantly, with all the right data about our customers, we can out Google, Google!
Think you’re prepared for this vision of the future? Contact me at daniel.saunders@edit.co.uk to share your thoughts.

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