LONG ISLAND, NY – Ten or twenty years ago, if you wanted to find information a search engine such as Yahoo would allow you to simply type-in what you were looking for, and countless websites would appear with information related to your search. Sometimes, ugly websites would appear that had keyword-stuffed their pages with the search string, but often you would be able to find what you were looking for within a few clicks around; and your answer was always on a website or web page of some kind.
Today, you have a variety of sources to find the information you’re looking for – and the amount of clicks it takes to find things is decreasing significantly.
Today, you might not need a search engine; you can use an app on your mobile phone. You could also try a voice command on a product such as Amazon’s “Alexa”, iPhone’s “Siri” or some other voice activated answer system. Last but certainly not least, just as you always have in the past, you could ask a search engine.
As far as using a search engine, a significant change to be noted is that you will find what you are looking for with fewer and fewer clicks… Often times a search engine will answer your question, without having you click to anything else at all; it won’t bring you to a website; the answer will be right there on the search page. I talked about the growing frequency of these knowledge graphs in a previous article about a month ago, so I won’t rehash the entire thing here, but I’d like to talk about another example of how websites continue to lose more and more traffic to search engines.
For example, I wanted to find-out what time Red Robbin was open till at a location near me. All I needed to do was type in “Red Robin 11704” and I have the answer I am looking for right there on the search result page. A beautiful Google Maps listing has the locations images, business hours, address, reviews and more right there within my single search. This is great, because it is super easy for me as an end-user of Google; but along the left are fantastic resources that decrease in value to me as a user.
I did not need to look at the location page on their website RedRobin.com; I did not need to visit Yelp.com despite all the effort that has probably been put into the page to make it great and rank so well; I also did not need to go to the YellowPages.com which is listed high in the search results.
RedRobin.com, Yelp.com and YellowPages.com would all be fantastic results for my web search, but I just did not need to visit them at all. They are worthless to me in my objective to find out what the business hours are for the store I want to visit. Keyword: Worthless.
I have to admit that this is somewhat scary as a website owner and domain investor. This is where all the traffic is going which results in sites missing out on more and more traffic.
As Google and other similar tools become smarter and better equipped to answer the questions we all ask in an instant, the less we will need to use websites to find information. We will become accustomed to the answers being available in a split-second simply by asking.