2019 is going to be an exciting year for advances in on-site search technology. As much progress as the industry has made, developments in the near future are sure to propel search functionality into a new frontier, transforming what was impossible to achieve just a few years ago, into a reality tomorrow. Here are some critical areas of site search development that will play a leading role in 2019.

Natural Voice Processing

Nearly everyone by now who has an iPhone has summoned Siri and asked very basic questions, such as “Find nearest pizza shop” of “Italian Food near me”. While the technology that allows for this kind of interaction with smart phones is impressive, advances in Natural Voice Processing (NVP) will soon change how we communicate with computers, websites and other devices. The goal of NVP is to develop a communication style between people and computers that is a lot less choppy and more warm and conversational.

With regard to on-site search technology, NVP will allow site visitors to naturally verbalize exactly what they are looking for, in the natural way in which they speak. From this, the search tool will not only understand the shopper’s full sentences, but also return search results that are extremely relevant to the visitor’s request. The impact that NVP will have upon on-site search is predicted to be substantial. Estimates are that natural voice processing will increase conversion rates 2-3 times over conventional searching methods.

Visual Search

Visual search empowers site visitors to search for what they want to purchase by utilizing images. Many people think that visual search technology is new but it actually can trace its origins back to over 10 years ago. The foundation of visual search is recognition software and artificial intelligence. Many social media users engage with recognition software already, as the technology is widely used on such sites as Facebook.

Visual Search can help internet shoppers in a number of interesting ways:
  • Such items as jewelry, clothing or fashion related products are sometimes hard to put into words accurately. A search for such items with the help of an image can play an important role in maintaining quality search results for shoppers.
  • People will often see a product that appeals to them, but not be able to recall its name or manufacturer. The option of being able to upload an image to identify it is a real time saver.
  • There is a real convenience factor that comes with visual search. Shoppers on the go would much rather prefer to search with an image, rather than typing words into a search box.

Visual search will continue to play a much bigger role in ecommerce website search in 2019.

Voice Search

Voice search technology is another up and coming way to search for products and services that is often cited to be a lot more convenient, as compared to using a key board and the search box. Many people are accustomed to using voice search on their smart phones for such things as directions or to find the closest store they need, but this technology is increasingly becoming more prevalent as a search tool on both ecommerce and information based websites. Many online shoppers and site marketers feel that there are several distinct advantages of voice search.

  • Fits well into peoples’ busy schedules, who do not always want to take the time to sit down at a computer and conduct a search in the traditional way.
  • Gives shoppers the ability to still receive personalized and relevant search results by using their natural speech patterns.
  • Gives online retailers an additional way (access point) for shoppers to search their site.
  • Can be used in both B2C and B2B applications.

The use of voice search is projected to increase at a rapid rate in the next several years. Websites that invest in voice search technology will give their customers another effective way to engage with them, which will lead to increased conversions and loyal, returning shoppers.

Federated Search

Another development that will continue to expand its presence in 2019 is federated search. Both ecommerce and content based websites today contain an enormous amount of information and can often operate on numerous platforms. When shoppers or site visitors conduct inquiries, it is critical that they benefit from search results that come from the entire website’s data base, not just bits and pieces of it. As online retailers and content based websites continue to grow their inventories and information data bases, a federated search strategy will play an increasingly important role in helping to always provide high quality, personalized and relevant search result for site visitors.

Many content driven websites are very diversified, in the sense that they store data involving ecommerce, calendars, educational resources, news and events/classes. For these kinds of sites (as well as ecommerce), a federated search functionality gives website visitors the advantage of searching from an aggregate perspective, gaining access to all information on a website as opposed to limited portions of it. Site visitors today expect that the results they receive from search engines will be specifically tailored to fit their needs. Federated search puts websites in the best position to meet those demands by offering customers all that their site has to offer.

Machine Learning

As one of the breakthroughs of artificial intelligence, machine learning provides search engines today the distinct advantage of being able to analyze huge amounts of data, relating to site visitors’ search behaviors and trends. One of the many benefits of the ability to evaluate all this information is that on-site search tools can now make predictions about what shoppers will want to see in search results. Machine learning greatly improves the ability of site visitors to receive personalized and relevant search results. By using data captured by the search engine, search results for shoppers become more meaningful.

No matter what type of website you operate, 2019 will be an exciting time for advances in search technology.

Happy New Year!