Google is on the verge of announcing changes to its mobile search parameters, changes that could affect millions of small business owners and cause what some media pundits are referring to as “mobilegeddon”. The change essentially boils down to this: going forward mobile friendly links will be promoted in search results and those that aren’t mobile friendly will not be promoted. As Business Insider reports: “The algorithm will start favoring mobile-friendly websites (ones with large text, easy-to-click links, and that resize to fit whatever screen they’re viewed on) and ranking them higher in search. Websites that aren’t mobile-friendly will get demoted.”
While the sudden change is likely to anger a lot of people it certainly does make sense to update the algorithm to reflect the changing times. More and more people are using their phones, tablets, and other mobile devices to access the internet. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be rewarding those companies that contribute to a better mobile experience. Ultimately though none of this is going to matter because the next step in the evolution of search isn’t a better algorithm. It’s a whole new search engine. One designed specifically for mobile devices.
The technology that’s going to help build that mobile search engine is known as deep linking. Now this isn’t a new concept, it’s been underpinning the way we search on the internet for years, but what is new is the fact that it’s going to be used in mobile devices.
What exactly is deep linking? Well, as TechCrunch describes it’s, “the technology that lets mobile apps reach outside of their respective walled gardens so that users can search and navigate between specific places within them.” Essentially, this means that instead of having a collection of highly individualized apps that you have to access one by one, you could, in theory, have a bundle of apps that are capable of communicating with one another and taking care of all your needs at once. The apps, instead of behaving like apps, would basically operate as if they were web pages interconnected within one world wide mobile web.
So how would it play out? Well, a likely primary use case for a mobile search engine would be to type in a keyword, say the name of a restaurant, and to receive relevant app based results that leverage the likes of Yelp, Open Table, MapQuest, Uber, etc. so that you can read reviews, make a reservation, and get directions or book a ride as you hop from one app to the next without ever having to go back to your home screen. When you consider the way in which we use our phones this is a much better approach to search than parsing through standard google results of static web pages on your phone’s browser and then entering into a bunch of different apps one by one.
As Read Write puts it, “Most mobile apps live in their own silos, and offer no way to directly access photos, stories, messages and other information to which they control access. Instead of letting you tap through to a relevant page, mobile links generally direct you to the app’s own home page—leaving you to search around the app, often in vain, for whatever you’re really looking for.” Thanks to the power of deep linking we may be able to change that and start delivering relevant mobile search results.
There’s been a lot of talk recently about what the future of search is going to entail. Is the next big thing going to be a DNA search engine, a search engine for the Internet of Things, or a predictive search engine that anticipates what you’re going to search for before you even realize that you want to search for it?
I don’t know. All I know is that the future of search as far as it relates to mobile devices is on the verge of changing. And it won’t be an algorithm that makes the biggest difference. It’ll be deep linking.
Is deep linking the Greatest Idea Ever?