Search engines today are the gateway to the web. Nine out of ten times you start your journey on Internet through search engines. Search Engine Optimization is a multi-billion dollar business because people reach your website through the back door using a search engine more often than through your home page. Google’s dominance in the search engine world is unquestioned with the company controlling about 70% of the market share.
Competition brings the best in you. With Microsoft trying to catch-up in the search world, there’s going to be more innovation and excitement in this space than ever before. With Google’s dominance and control in the search market, Microsoft is trying hard to change the game with Google ready to fight in the new field. Bing, the Microsoft’s search engine, is going for an application based approach to search. The idea is that when you do a search, you don’t just find the results, pick one and get out of there, but stay there and do much more. This application based approach is now becoming more visible in both Google and Bing.
So what does this mean and where is it going? We all have seen simple applications running in search engines. A weather application to show the weather right in there, a dictionary, a stock price, match scores etc. What do these applications do? They give you the basic information right upfront and you have an option to dive in to get more detailed information. Now extend it to other things. One of the most popular ones is news. Get the news headlines before leaving the search platform and dig deeper if you want the details.
Bing and Google are competing to extend it further. Take video for example. How would you like to see a 30 second preview of the video before clicking on it, loading it and watching it? That can be done by building a video player application inside the search engine. How about shopping? Why not find reviews, compare prices and see special offers right at one place before going out and making the purchase? Books: get the abstract before going out and purchasing it. Movies: view trailer, read reviews, see show times and buy tickets at the same place. There can be an application for everything you can think of in the search engine.
There are many advantages of application based approach to search. One of the biggest advantages is a better display which in turn converts into saving time to find the right result faster. The implicit feedback loop is important for accuracy of a search engine. The more time you spend in a search engine, the more opportunity for the search engine to learn about you, what you want and improve the results and applications. There’s an obvious business advantage as well. More time spent in search engine is proportional to more opportunity to target the audience with targeted advertisements.
Google has very well set simplicity as the new black. So the biggest caveat while playing with anything in search is to make sure the simplicity is maintained. Users today are used to getting results packaged in a clean user interface and to be successful in search space, you got to make sure simplicity is not compromised.