The Swiftype Blog / The Future of Site Search

The Future of Site Search

Last week, we took a look at the future of enterprise search. And we would be remiss if we didn’t set aside the same amount of blog space for a sister post on the future of site search.

Since it popped onto the scene in 1998, Google has pretty much dominated the world of search, including site search. But, as we all know, as of April 2018, Google Site Search will be going the way of the Dodo bird. (Don’t worry—we’re here to help!) And where website owners at one time could access only default site search options with limited capabilities, today, site search has matured lock-step with the rise of high user expectations.

Because searchers today want accurate, rapid-fire results, here at Swiftype our focus has been on building a search platform that is cloud-based, highly customizable (both visually and in terms of the overall results), scalable, engaging, and, of course, mobile. Advanced search algorithms, bigram matching, and features like autocomplete, faceted search, and spelling correction all work together to facilitate those aforementioned speedy search results. But what’s next for site search?

Welcome to the Future of Site Search

The boiled down “why” of site search has always been to have functionality in place that would help searchers tell companies and brands exactly what they were looking for, and/or what their pain points were. And the future of site search is looking very bright indeed.

Mobile Just Keeps Growing: Yes, we know, we know, mobile is the way to go. But seriously…MOBILE IS THE WAY TO GO! Mobile search has grown year over year across most verticals, including the big boys like finance, travel, auto, and media—and that growth is predicted to continue in 2017. The future of mobile search goes beyond simply having a mobile-responsive site. Think fast and efficient user experience, keyword research, content creation, and complex natural language queries. Wearable tech is a hot commodity, with estimates predicting 185 million wearables sold by 2021, resulting in a healthy $16.9 billion industry. And where you have wearables, you have voice search. Voice search continues to grow, especially for all those mobile users who want hands-free, on-the-go convenience. In fact, it’s predicted that by 2020, fully half of all web searches will be conducted by voice.

Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing: Speaking of natural language queries, just as we discussed in our previous piece on the future of enterprise search, AI and NLP are having the same impact on site search, “…creating systems that can identify relationships between search terms and words that pre-defined word/grammar rules-based tools miss. Basically, ‘teaching’ the system how to be human.” And artificial intelligence is becoming so ubiquitous and mainstream, it’s predicted that by the year 2020, 85 percent of a client’s relationship with a business will occur without the need for pesky human beings!  

Visual Search: Another way artificial intelligence is shaping the future of site search is through images. Visual search and Ecommerce are natural best friends, with major brands like Wayfair, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, and Home Depot (among others) offering visual search on their mobile sites. But visual search technology does more than just source the latest styles. It helps improves diagnosis accuracy in the healthcare industry and is used in some airports to keep track of how often people change their appearance—frequent changes raise red flags. Pointing your phone at something and hitting search is easy, and site searchers today will always choose easy first. Expect huge future growth for the visual search industry.

Back in 2015, it was said that online search “will be able to see and hear like humans.” Fast forward two short years and it’s safe to say we’re well on our way to hitting those goals. Keep an eye on this space, as the future of site search looks very bright indeed.

Have questions or just want to learn more? The Swiftype Team is more than happy to chat with you about how your organization can ensure site search is a part of your future success. Connect with us today!

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