The State of Search: What’s New in the Industry

Over the past few weeks, there have been some noteworthy updates and changes in the online search space that have implications for consumers and local business owners alike.

Voice & Image Search from Google

Google attributes their mobile search traffic growth to their voice search technology: in the past year alone, Voice search traffic has grown six-fold. So now, speech recognition has been integrated into desktop search for those using the Chrome browser. (Just look for the little microphone icon in Google search boxes.)

Another way to search Google is with images – a technology that also appeared on mobile devices first under the name Google Goggles. With extensions being released for both Chrome and Firefox, this image search feature will also let you right-click on any image you see online to run a search for that image.

Google Instant Gets Instant Pages

With Google’s new Instant Pages, the design and content on your landing page could be more important than ever. Similar to how Google Instant starts displaying search engine results for keywords while a user is still typing, Instant Pages gets the actual webpage of the top result displayed in the background of the search engine results page while users decide which link to click.

What’s happening is that Google is “prerendering” the top result for searches – a sort of pre-download so that when a user does click through, the page will load instantly, shaving off around 2-5 seconds off typical searches. For now, this feature is only available to users who download the latest beta version of the Chrome browser.

ICANN Announces .anything

The non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will soon allow the expansion of top-level domain names to established public or private organizations. Top-Level Domains, or domain name extensions, are the last group of letters following a period in the URL of any website (ex: .com, .org, .net, etc.). As ICANN described in a recent statement, “Internet address names will be able to end with almost any word in any language, offering organizations around the world the opportunity to market their brand, products, community or cause in new and innovative ways.”

But with a lengthy application process – not to mention a $185k price tag for the new service – big brands are expected to make the move first. After all, that’s one more valuable piece of web property that would index highly to dominate the search engine results pages for a business. So at this point, SMBs would do well to wait and see if larger companies start offering more options for domain extensions sometime in the future.

What do you think about Google’s latest search innovations? Will voice and image searches influence the way you build your web presence beyond text keywords? If you could claim a domain extension for your business or brand name, would you? Let us know your thoughts in a comment!

Angela Epley writes about online advertising and web presence for the ReachLocal blog, which focuses on small

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