Google has turned 20 years old and as part of the ongoing celebrations this month, the tech giant has announced numerous updates to Google Search.

This is the largest Google Search update that the company has done for a while and the tech giant says it  was driven by three fundamental shifts in how it thinks about search:

  • The shift from quick answers to ongoing information journeys so users can resume tasks.
  • The shift from queries to providing a query-less way to provide information by using a user’s previous searches to predict the kind of information they want to see.
  • The shift from text to a more visual way of finding information.

Here are five specific Google Search updates you should know about:

Lifting the ban on cryptocurrency

Google has joined Facebook in lifting a ban on cryptocurrency adverts. The adverts were originally banned in June which sent the price of bitcoin down by 10%. The end of the ban is part of a new update to its financial products and services policy and will enable regulated cryptocurrency exchanges to advertise in the US and Japan from October. Other countries have not yet been included in this update.

A more personalised newsfeed

A more personalised newsfeed on the Google mobile app is another major part of Google’s latest update. The feed is called Discover and will be updated so when Google mobile app user sign in they will see content including news, sports highlights and YouTube videos based on their interests. This update will also enable users to see ‘evergreen’ content higher up in their newsfeeds if it could be of potential interest to the user despite not being the latest news.

User control of content

Google also want to give users more control of the kind of content they are seeing and is introducing an update that will allow them to edit the available content. This editing will be done by moving a new slider that appears under each item in the feed up and down so the user can indicate whether they would like to see more or less of this kind of content

AI and machine learning visual searches

As part of a revamp to image and visual searching, Google will begin to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to offer more visual search results. Featured videos will also be shown to users if the search engine finds any that it thinks are relevant.

Joining the ‘Stories’ trend

Another Google Search update in the image and visual searching section is the introduction of the option for anyone to create social media story-style images and videos and publish them online on Google Images and the Discover feed. In a company blog post, Google Images director of engineering Cathy Edwards said the company is diving deeper into the stories format and has allowed some publishers to start creating stories already. The stories format is already very popular on social media.

What has been said about the Google search update?

While it is still early days for the Google Search update, SEO company Verve Search strategy director James Congdon says that they have “already started to observe many publishers already dabbling with this format in order to deliver a more visual way to provide users with greater value from their search queries and the news that they consume online”.

This latest update sees Google jump on the Stories trend as well, which have been of great appeal to Instagram and Snapchat users.

“Now that Google is beginning to employ AI to put together AMP stories and embed this content in Search – and although we’re only able to see stories from famous people at this stage, what is refreshing is that it doesn’t yet appear that Google will be pushing ads through the new format,” Congdon  told Verdict.

“More than 400 million people use Instagram stories every single day, and Google clearly wants a piece of the pie that Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and now even Whatsapp have been feasting on for a while now, which is further evidence that this relatively new format is here to stay”