Is Google Under Threat By Other Search Engines?
Google has had a pretty easy ride in recent years when it comes to competition. Yahoo and Bing have been way behind in search statistics, leaving Google with a whopping 80% of the market share. And with Google’s ownership of Youtube, it was looking like they would be set to dominate the video search market too.
And then the game changed. TikTok came onto the scene and has since evolved into its own search engine. What started as a platform for pure entertainment has become a platform where people actively seek information.
Then you’ve got Amazon, Facebook, and Youtube all taking a share of the searches Google had monopolised for so long. But do any of these platforms actually pose a real threat to Google? Or is the search engine giant set to stay our #1 search engine? Keep reading to see what the future might hold and how it will affect users and businesses alike.
How Is User Behaviour Changing?
At the root of the threat to Google is a shift in what users actually want to see and how they consume information. Gone are the days when we’d find answers to our questions in a library book, and it seems reading large quantities of information might be losing appeal for online search queries too.
With attention spans at an all-time low at just 8.25 seconds, 4.25 seconds less than it was back in 2000. And what’s the fastest way for our brains to process information? Images. In fact, a study at the University of Minnesota found that we process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. Why? The brain deciphers image elements simultaneously, while language has to be decoded in a linear, sequential process.
So combine how our brains work with decreasing attention spans and you reach one conclusion: video content. Video provides answers faster and in a more engaging way than text ever could, offering a combination of entertainment and information to keep users hooked.
The TikTok Era
Enter: The TikTok era. Born out of these evolving user behaviours, TikTok arrived at the perfect time to fill the gap in the market for a mobile-focused video platform. Instagram had begun to make platform changes by introducing reels, but users were proving slow to shift from the way they were accustomed to using the traditionally image-focused app.
TikTok offers short and concise video content, usually with a hook in the opening seconds that the video goes on to explain or explore. The highly reactive algorithm takes note of everything you watch and how long you watch it in order to curate a feed that’s tailored to your interests (read: designed to keep you hooked).
Then before you know it, you’re finding answers to your problems on TikTok: whether it’s researching restaurants, getting beauty tips, book recommendations, life advice, or even simple ‘how to’ content like changing a lightbulb.
TikTok Search Advertising
Once users had discovered the power of search in the app, it wasn’t long before TikTok introduced search ads to capitalise on user behaviour.
This kind of TikTok advertising doesn’t just have implications for users: it affects advertisers as well as SEO specialists looking to rank wherever their audience is searching. Marketers currently running Google search ads are looking to move some of their investment, while SEO specialists have to learn the ropes of gaining organic ranking in a whole new search engine.
TikTok search is still in its infancy, meaning we don’t really know how the platform will evolve. But one thing’s for sure: TikTok search will become a part of your omnichannel digital strategy.
How AI Is Affecting Search Engines
The world has become a little bit obsessed with ChatGPT in recent months. People are using AI technology to source detailed information and solve unique problems through a more conversation-based search model than the traditional search engine.
While it doesn’t claim to be a search engine, the AI chatbot has certainly been treading on Google’s toes. The real threat it poses is, while Google responds to searches on a keyword basis, AI chatbots like ChatGPT can use machine learning to present solutions based on user behaviour. This means potentially more relevant results and a more dynamic combination of images and text to answer queries.
Google has not let these new developments go unnoticed, making a statement that they plan to use “the power of AI to reimagine how people search for, explore and interact with information, making it more natural and intuitive than ever before to find what you need.”
Will Google Keep Up?
In a fight against a rise in video search activity as well as the invasion of AI, Google is looking to make some pretty big changes to its search engine. The tech giant has announced that it’s testing a new results section that incorporates AI-generated solutions, combining images with only the key information.
Whether this is the solution that users are actually looking for remains to be seen, but it reveals Google’s attempt to pivot in the threat of new search behaviour.
TikTok has proved it can pose a real threat to both Google and Youtube with its evolving search capabilities. But TikTok does not exist alone in the video search space, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are also pushing video content in an effort to get their share of user interest. AI has also rocked the boat for traditional search engines, offering a new way to get accurate answers to your problems in a way that’s hyper-personalised.
Whether Google can survive these threats will depend on how it can adapt to cater to changing user behaviours. You can expect to see Google testing out a few new search features as they battle to remain the #1 search engine.