“The human brain can identify images seen for as little as 13 milliseconds” MIT
The evolution of online search has undergone a profound transformation in recent decades, shifting from the era of text-only searches epitomised by platforms like Yahoo and Ask Jeeves to the present, where search engines seamlessly integrate voice and visual elements. This shift in the search criteria not only reflects a continual adaptation to fulfil user queries in the most effective manner, but emphasises the ever-changing nature of how users seek and access information online.
In recent times, social media has emerged as a transformative force in search, with a significant 31% of consumers turning to TikTok, Instagram and Pinterest to answer questions. This trend is particularly pronounced among younger generations, who increasingly prefer staying on social platforms for both entertainment and search purposes.
The transition to search for first hand knowledge signifies a notable diversion of influence away from Google, highlighting an interesting change in how we prefer to discover information online and on which platforms. A change which Google has not ignored.
In response to these evolving user preferences, Google has introduced a new ‘Perspectives’ filter—a strategic move to re-engage users and promise a fresh, improved search journey; a journey characterised by first hand experiences, personal narratives, and social videos.
The critical question that arises is the potential impact of this shift on the future of search, particularly concerning the ascendancy of first hand video content and experiences over conventional text-based responses.
The rise of social media as a search engine
31% of consumers use social media to answer questions
As social media platforms recognized their potential as search engines, they refined their functionalities. Facebook’s search algorithm, for instance, became more robust, allowing users to explore a vast array of content within their social circles. Instagram introduced features like the tile tab Explore and hashtags, empowering users to discover tailored content aligned with their interests. Similarly, Pinterest evolved into a visual search engine, enabling users to unearth ideas, products, and inspiration in a visually appealing manner.
The emergence of TikTok further underscores this shift in preference. For Gen Z, TikTok has become a go-to source for personalised, authentic, and valuable information, in some ways, surpassing the perceived value of traditional search results on Google.
What’s more, TikTok is now providing insights into the sources of traffic to your content, breaking it down into FYP (For You Page) traffic and search. While TikTok is not a traditional search engine, this update suggests a move towards providing insights similar to those found on search engines. By offering information on traffic sources, TikTok is empowering content creators to understand how their videos are being discovered, which can be valuable for optimising content strategy and reaching a wider audience.
Significance of first hand knowledge in search
Defining first hand knowledge as insights gained through direct experiences, expert opinions, and real-world perspectives, this form of content resonates with audiences by delivering trustworthy, valuable, and relatable information. Brands adopting this approach connect with consumers on a deeper level, fostering credibility.
Beyond conventional text-based searches, as previously stated, users now heavily rely on visuals and imagery, embracing image-centric platforms like Pinterest and Instagram. This is seen particularly by the younger generation with 40% of Gen Z preferring to scour TikTok or Instagram over the traditional giant, Google. The appeal lies not only in the convenience of searching within social platforms, of which users spend on average 151 minutes per day on, but also in the real-time updates, creating an expectation of immediate and relevant answers from one’s social network.
This preference for first hand knowledge on social media and platforms like Reddit over traditional text-based blogs can be attributed to the authenticity and personal touch associated with user-generated content. Unlike text-based blogs, which may sometimes come off as curated or promotional, social media and forums offer unfiltered insights, reviews, and experiences shared by individuals with similar interests.
Google's perspectives filter
“…more content made for people, and less content made to attract clicks”- Google
Google is riding the wave of the video-first and first hand knowledge search trend. In May 2023, Google rolled out the perspectives filter, a fresh approach to unearth diverse viewpoints in search results. Whilst trialling in the US and only available on mobile devices, this filter aims to highlight “hidden gems” of unique and expert information, giving them a higher rank for users. Essentially, this means that a brief forum post, a comment on a less-known article, or insights from a micro-influencer with expert knowledge on a topic can snag the top spot in your search results, depending on the value of the information. The perspectives filter marks Google’s move towards making search results more nuanced and inclusive, prioritising valuable insights over popularity and ‘clickbait’.
“…connecting you to the people and perspectives that will help you understand what’s best for you.” – Google
Throughout the evolution of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) experience, filters have played a significant role. Common filters such as images, videos, and related topics have been widely used.
The Perspectives filter is crafted to highlight a variety of content formats, including long- and short-form videos, images, forum posts, and social media posts. Its purpose is to introduce a broader range of voices into search.
The emphasis on human perspectives signals a shift in the way content is perceived. The filter prioritises authentic narratives, user-generated content, and diverse viewpoints, enriching the search experience with a more genuine and relatable touch. This is partially due to the increased volume of AI generated content across the web.
For content creators, the introduction of the Perspectives filter means adapting strategies to align with the evolving content landscape. Understanding the nuances of human perspectives and crafting content that resonates with diverse audiences becomes paramount for maintaining visibility and relevance.
This is how the new Google SERP feature looks:
Gif: The Keyword Google
The organic search results viewed through the lens of the Perspectives filter are notably more vibrant and dynamic. Unlike the conventional display of ten blue links on a single page, this filter introduces a diverse mix of content, enhancing the interface and overall quality of the Search results.
The Perspectives filter is designed to redirect users searching for information on social media platforms back to Google. It achieves this by highlighting relevant videos and first hand experiences sourced from platforms such as YouTube, social media, and Reddit.
- YouTube: YouTube stands out as a top favourite on the SERPs page, featuring a range of content, including tutorials, reviews, and ASMR. For optimal optimization of YouTube videos on Google, focus on refining video scripts, descriptions, and titles.
- Social media: Another commonly favoured platform is social media content. As observed in the aforementioned video, organic search results prominently display a variety of video content, GIFs, and images. Social media content creators profiles are highlighted, with profile pictures, number of likes and followers.
- Forum responses: Text-based answers, often in the form of Reddit threads, consistently secure higher rankings on SERPs.
How to rank for Perspectives filter
- Social media SEO: Google acknowledges first hand experiences and social videos as diverse content, and as such, is more likely to rank these media types higher on the Perspectives filter. To attain the best possible rankings, concentrate on content optimization for SEO. This includes fine-tuning captions, strategically incorporating hashtags, and creating titles. By prioritising these elements, you enhance the discoverability and relevance of your content, aligning it with Google’s evolving search criteria for the new filter.
- Incorporate videos: Google SERP favours non-text assets such as images and videos, likely due to its emphasis on showcasing human-generated content. With the increasing prevalence of AI-generated content, navigating through irrelevant information on Search has become challenging. That’s why it’s crucial for your SEO content writing service to not only provide textual content but also demonstrate creativity in developing engaging assets like videos and images.
- Add forums or discussions: Incorporate a forum or discussion section into your website. Take a page from the books of Reddit and Quora by encouraging user-generated content (UGC). Reviews, discussions, and opinions not only offer a valuable means of engaging potential customers but also present distinctive opportunities for content optimisation in terms of SEO.
- Heavily promote your content: Ensure you cross-promote your content through all the platforms such as TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Reddit.
Future trends and predictions
The ‘Perspectives’ filter introduced by Google hints at a significant shift in how we seek information, emphasising authenticity and diverse viewpoints. This could mark the inception of a more nuanced and inclusive search experience, where first-hand experiences and social videos play a pivotal role.
While visual content gains prominence, text-based blogs remain resilient. The synergy of textual and visual elements is likely the future trajectory, catering to a diverse audience with varied preferences. As technology advances, the blending of these approaches will redefine the search landscape, offering users a comprehensive and personalized exploration of the vast digital realm.
As brands adapt to the evolving search environment, Google’s strategic move with the Perspectives filter underscores a commitment to staying at the forefront of these changes. The fusion of first hand experiences, videos, and diverse perspectives signals a new era in online search, prompting content creators and businesses to adapt their strategies for continued success in this dynamic landscape.