It’s hard to imagine—or for us older folks, to remember—life without search engines. We all use the internet to answer our questions, find new ideas and now more than ever, to shop.
Google has been dominant for years as the ultimate search engine. But competitors are making moves on Google, including Amazon. Is Amazon search the future for voice searches and online shopping?
If you want to learn more about voice search, read Why Voice Search SEO Is Vital in 2018. And if the rise of mobile is of interest, try these Tips for Designing a Mobile-First Marketing Strategy.
Over 4.1 billion people are now active internet users, up from 3.58 billion in 2017. Source: Statista
Internet search and online shopping will only continue to grow due to the following trends:
- More and more people around the world have access to the internet.
- More and more people around the world are purchasing smartphones, making mobile-friendly platforms vital.
- The way we use smartphones and the internet continues to evolve.
- The world of voice search and artificial intelligence is expanding, creating rapid growth of personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa.
- The manner in which search engines deliver content is changing.
- Proprietary search engine algorithms continue to evolve and refine how we find the information we want and lead us to what we will purchase.
The internet and smartphones
Our world continues to get smaller as more and more people have access to the internet and more people purchase and use smartphones. That means a growing marketplace for online companies like Google and Amazon, who continue to evolve to meet the needs of consumers.
One change on the horizon is that search engines are moving away from the manner in which content is currently delivered. Rather than directing people to websites, search engines will directly answer questions and users won’t leave the interface because their questions will be answered right there. In fact, the search interface becomes “the web” for users.
The rise of voice search
Another change is the huge expansion of voice search, and it promises to get bigger with the rise of voice assistants. Voice search is now considered mainstream.
It’s powerful to be able to ask your device something and have it answer you. It isn’t just about the voice recognition technology, it’s about the device being able to read a sentence and know what you’re talking about while also learning your preferences to be able to help you even better.
That’s why mainstream assistants are burgeoning, with Apple’s Siri leading the way and the more recent rise of Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana.
The popularity of Amazon’s personal assistant Alexa has helped with the rise of Amazon voice search, and the technology of assistants continues to advance. Assistants such as Alexa will perform searches in the background based on information they pick up from our conversations and our location.
They can also make recommendations such as when you should leave for work based on your daily commute schedule and real-time traffic data.
Personal assistants already comb through our emails and apps and can produce information cards that display upcoming flight times, for instance, or incoming package shipments. Further development is inevitable.
Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple are all working on optimizing their artificial intelligence. The assistants of the future will ask you questions to help you, rather than waiting for you to ask them.
Google me—or not
Google used to be the go-to search engine for any type on internet search you wanted to perform.
Want the latest stats on your favorite baseball player? Google. Want to see the location of the stadium where the team plays? Google. Want to buy that player’s jersey? Google.
Then Amazon slowly made the move to being a more popular engine for product searches until 2017, when it became the top place for consumers to search. It also became the dominant spot for people to start their voice searches. That was a three-year growth trend that only promises to continue to rise.
Now you can ask Alexa, “Who won the baseball game last night?” and she will tell you because she knows your favorite team. You don’t need Google to accomplish what you want.
As retailers, brands, manufacturers and distributors start to understand this shift, they will realize that they must be on Amazon search to be relevant and successful. If you’re not on Amazon, your business risks obscurity and irrelevance.
While traditional internet marketing methods like search engine optimization (seo) and paid search tactics (ppc) may still be relevant, they are not as powerful for product searches and sales as they once were. As more businesses move to Amazon, it only makes sense that it will continue to grow.
Connection to Prime
Alexa allows users with Amazon Prime to order products directly through the Echo. Source: Consumer Reports
Amazon has also leveraged Alexa with a connection to Prime, its subscription service. The use of Alexa gives users exclusive Prime deals, an incentive to use the Amazon voice assistant and therefore use Amazon to shop.
It’s easy to use, fast and efficient. Alexa stores your information and can place orders when you tell her to, creating high conversion rates from searching to shopping. This provides another incentive for suppliers to sell on Amazon.
What does it all mean?
While Google is historically the best-known and most-used search engine, Amazon search dominates when it comes to shopping. Almost all online shopping activities involve Amazon, including searching for ideas when gift shopping, or doing a comparison after finding a product elsewhere.
It’s true that people will sometimes search Amazon and then compare elsewhere, but Amazon continues to be relied upon for online shopping.
A 2017 study by Survata found that 49% of U.S. consumers begin an online product search on Amazon, compared to 36% who use a search engine and 15% who use a retailer’s site. BloomReach’s “State of Amazon 2016” also noted that the number of consumers who start an online product search at Amazon has grown.
When it comes to mobile devices, Amazon is also dominant in product search with 50% of respondents saying they start product searches on mobile devices on Amazon’s mobile site or app.
One of the reasons Amazon search continues to dominate and grow is the user experience. Amazon works continually to optimize the site experience, while other sites often drive customers away with poor site experiences.
Amazon is also exploring visual search, where customers can use their smartphone cameras to identify a product and then conduct a search for the product. Such visual search technology is sure to expand in the near future.
Another reason Amazon is so popular is because it works! Consumers cite Amazon’s site search and product-filtering capabilities as superior. You find what you’re looking for.
Many online searches might begin with Google, but particularly when it comes to shopping, they most likely end up on Amazon, which continues to grow versus in-person shopping at traditional retailers.
There’s no doubt that Google will remain a dominant force in online search, and is also expanding its dominance with a personal assistant, phones, laptops and other products to make the brand an integral part of your life.
But it will be interesting to watch events unfold as Amazon search continues its growth and expansion, with both companies changing the way we live, interact and shop.
Author Bio: Callum Mundine is part of the marketing team at oneegg.com.au, an agency focused on selling ppc management services. Callum is an Amazon marketplace & white hat link building specialist and has launched multiple successful brands on Amazon.com. Callum likes his eggs boiled.