My generation grew up with computers. I distinctly remember those early years back in elementary school, slaving away on our first few research projects. Our library had shelves and shelves full of encyclopedias. These old heavy books were positioned just feet away from the very space-age-looking multicolored iMacs. Which method of research do you think my peers and I preferred?
Despite the best intentions from our teachers to have us research using books, we all gravitated toward computers and the Internet. But in reality, why shouldn’t we have? It was a completely indexed and searchable database of everything we were looking for! We searched, and we found.
Fast forward to the present, and the “in-search-of mindset” is now strongly rooted in almost every age group. With the advent of mobile operating systems with built-in search, Siri for Apple, Google Now for Google (Android), and Cortana for Microsoft, searching is now a core function of every smart device. You no longer have to dig to find. Artificial intelligence works through search algorithms and pulls the information for you.
These search technologies have become so ingrained in us that there have now been multiple studies published showing that Internet users have a false sense of increased knowledge. Our ability to find information so easily on Internet-connected devices is changing the perceptions of our intelligence.
We know that with a quick search on our phone, we can find out information about nearly any topic we want to. This is what I mean by the “in-search-of mindset.” It’s an integral part of the way that we interact with the world now.
Of course, we can get quick trivia—when was Thomas Jefferson born again? But we search for more than just fun factoids. When we run into problems in our lives, we turn to the Internet for help. The problem could be as simple as “I’m hungry,” or it could be as daunting as “I need to learn about purchasing homeowner’s insurance.”
Millennials, having grown up with the Internet always in reach, turn to Google for nearly everything. As a new parent, I’m not surprised that Google reports that a majority of men my age turn to search engines first for parenting tips and product reviews. It’s not just that we like the convenience of Internet searches; we trust it as well.
Trust in the Results
We search, and answers are provided. With powerful search algorithms, we’ve become increasingly confident in the results that are provided. But it’s not Google that is providing these answers directly. It is just indexing the Internet and supplying an algorithm to find the best results based on its index. The answers themselves are coming from content on other websites.
As of 2013, Google had indexed over 30 trillion unique pages. These pages span from large media sites like the New York Times, governmental websites, to company websites, and personal blogs.
Every search query yields a new opportunity for a new source of information to be found. Those of us who have embraced the “in-search-of” mindset have become accustomed to trusting the results because they appeared in the rankings and not because of some long-standing history we have with the brand or source. We know that good information can come from anywhere. You can see this with our skeptical nature toward large news organizations, while at the same time we can trust a personal blog some unknown person has written.
As a business, you want to be the source of information. When somebody is in search of something you offer or a problem you solve, you want to have the answer. You’re probably not going to be the top result for “The Beatles White Album,” but you could be a top result for “plumbers in madison wi” if you provide the right content.
As you begin to build a digital sales strategy that embraces search, you are going to overtime build up your ability to be found by your prospective customers. It’s not an overnight change, but with the increasing amount of content you provide that answers common questions or queries, your ability to rank well within keywords will increase. When they search, YOU will have the answer.