Search has come a long way since its early beginnings. Altavista and AskJeeves are long gone, and most of us can’t imagine a world without Google these days. But search continues to change. It has always been a work in progress, and it will probably always be that way. And the search engines that we’re using today might not always reign supreme. So let’s talk about the direction that search is heading in and what Schema has to do with it.
The search engines they are a-changing
The year 2022 has already shaken search up quite a bit, with the revelation that almost 40% of Gen Z use TikTok instead of Google to search for information. Meanwhile, on more traditional search platforms we’ve seen a lot of changes too. Google and Bing have both been busy sprucing up their search results this year. With new arrivals like Google’s multisearch and Bing’s buying guides, it’s clear that search is doing anything but standing still.
Challenges in search and SEO
So, there’s been a lot going on. But there are still many challenges for search and for SEO (besides social media and Gen Z). Ambiguous phrases and names are difficult for search engines and users to differentiate. And they can make it really hard to optimize content for search.
On top of that, expertise, authority and trust are important factors too. There’s too much spam and misinformation out there. We need search to become more precise and deliver better-quality results.
How Schema can help
This is where we turn to structured data. Schema.org structured data, in particular. Its standardized framework enables search engines to move away from simple text-matching, allowing them to piece together the relationships between concepts. In this way, search can identify relevant phrases and content in a more semantic way.
Here’s an example. There’s more than one Joost de Valk in the world (we actually found 3 more besides the one we know). With a good Schema implementation, search engines can tell the difference between each of these people. In the future, Google could even look at your other searches to guesstimate which Joost you’re looking for. Neat, huh?
Where is search heading?
But that’s not where the story ends. Search is becoming much more experiential too. With things like knowledge graphs, Google Discover, and the Multitask United Model, search could become a lot more powerful. And a lot more personal. Whether it’s about showing your preferred sources first or offering tailored results for very specific multi-layered questions, there are huge developments in the works.
Besides making quality information more findable, what happens within search is set to change too. Google has been testing new shopping features in their search results on an almost-monthly basis in 2022. In the near future, you could be comparing and buying products directly from search, and then tracking your shipment there too.
Many of these new search features rely heavily on structured data. And in the distant future, Schema could pave the way for a much more entity-based search, with less focus on individual keywords. So don’t be hesitant about getting started with structured data — it’s probably only going to get more important as time goes on.
What does this all mean for SEO?
Whew! It’s a dizzying prospect to think about what this could mean for the future of SEO. First things first — as long as search exists, it should always be possible to optimize your content for it. Structured data is likely to play an increasingly important role in that.
If, and when, entities take a more central role in search, having content that refers to all the facts and entities related to your topic may be the way to go. It could be a case of optimizing with context more than optimizing with keywords. And of course, some things will never change. The need to create quality content is one of them — even if you’re making that content for TikTok.
Offering the best information and a seamless user experience is bound to pay off. At the very least, it’s going to help you rank in the short and long term. It could also earn you a fanbase that will be shown your content preferentially above other sources in the future. Invest in that content now, and keep an eye on the search landscape as it changes. That’s your best bet.
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