Search is an everyday part of our lives. From searching for the ingredients to make breakfast, looking for travel routes, and even to things as obscure as finding a dog-sitter - we are used to searching for things every day, so much so that over the past ten years the number of hours spent on the Internet has doubled to an average of 20 hours per week. However, during that time, the technology employed by search engines has not changed drastically and has been reliant on keyword based search. This kind of search picks out main words, disregards connective words and, in turn, provides users with pages and pages of results, many of which are not relevant.
In recent years, developments in mobile technology and voice search have changed the way people seek out information, and as a result, the way we search has evolved. However, some of the major search engines are yet to catch up.
So, what are the key trends that we can expect to see revolutionise the way we search?
The future of search appears to be in the algorithms behind the technology. Semantic search or natural language is being hailed as the 'holy grail,' but in the Search of the Future, new methods will prevail that provide better results thanks to their ability to organise information deriving from improved algorithms driven by the new methods. These methods will also utilise new technological approaches such as "natural intelligence" or "human language search," rather than artificial intelligence and natural language search.
The difference among the search types is that: the keyword search only picks out the words that it thinks are relevant; the natural language search is closer to how the human brain processes information; the human language search that we practice is the exact matching between questions and answers as it happens in interactions between human beings.
The technology behind the human language search approach allows users to type in words or terms composed of a number of questions in sequences that replicate the dialogue that occurs between human beings. For example, instead of carrying out three different searches for UK golf courses, train stations and hotels under £300, users would simply type in "which UK hotels under £300 have golf courses and are near a train station". This would immediately provide them with accurate results by returning in a single view information about hotels, golf courses and train stations.
In an 'always on, always connected' world, where people demand instantaneous results, the answers to a search must be precise, complete and immediately accessible.
The humanisation of technology and in particular, search, can be attributed to this new direction that the future of search is taking.
The aforementioned technology is transforming search and introducing new trends like the human language search approach. Yet the gap between using personal devices and using traditional search engines is yet to be fully bridged. This quest for an effective, true to life search engine that is identical to the way humans think is the holy grail, the online equivalent of the scientific search for a cure for cancer. In recent years there has been a handful of search engines trying and succeeding in mirroring these search techniques, and we can expect to see them launch into and dominate the consumer market.
The emergence of IoT and Big Data has resulted in increasing amounts of data being produced, and it's predicted that by the year 2020, about 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second for every human being on the planet. All of this additional information means that search needs to be streamlined so that users can filter through the 'noise' and efficiently find what they are looking for. Search engines will need to be far more proficient to allow everyday users to effectively navigate the minefield of additional information.
Another key trend we can expect to see in the future of search is the shift from 'search engines' to 'search platforms', meaning that they will have a wider use. They will provide tools, services and a level of precision that is not currently available. It will be designed for the organisation, and management of information. Essential to this, is the simplification of results findings, presenting all the relevant search findings onto just one page, instead of the hundreds of results that we are used to being offered.
Ultimately, what the future holds is unknown, as the amount of time that we spend online increases, and technology becomes an innate part of our lives. It is expected that the desktop versions of search engines that we have become accustomed to will start to copy their mobile counterparts by embracing new methods and techniques like the human language search approach, thus providing accurate results. Fortunately these shifts are already being witnessed within the business sphere, and we can expect to see them being offered to the rest of society within a number of years, if not sooner.