Let Me Put It In Context For You…


Psst, want a peek into the future?

It’s pretty simple – it’s all about context.

We’re on the way, but picture this: Search engines truly know which articles, blogs, memes, and videos you’ll love the most.  They’ll send you these recommendations, but don’t worry.  It’s nothing like spam.  It’s all relevant, helpful, and right up your alley.  That’s because search engines understand how you and content relate, in the right context.

And it’s much closer than you think!

It’s basically like search engines have a crystal ball, but a miss is as good as a mile.  In other words, clearly we’re not there yet and even though technology is advancing at an astounding rate, being “close” doesn’t mean we’re actually close at all.

Today, users have to start at least typing a query to get search engines to think.  Search engines that think, well before the user ever signs on, are what we need.  It would consider your whole life, such as your browsing history, connections and calendar, then drum up recommendations that are 100 percent customized.

Basically, search engines could become your assistants.

Hold Up

What’s keeping search engines in the dark right now?

There are three big hurdles, starting with the inability to customize data that’s siloed.  Data that’s held in silos, such as social media platforms, can’t be turned into truly helpful connections.  It’s not centralized, and there’s not a single source analyzing that data, which means non-thorough connection understanding.  Network tech needs to improve so that relationships can be analyzed.

Consider this: Does every single Facebook profile currently and accurately showcase a person’s background, skills, and interests?  Probably not.  In many cases, people filter what they choose to share on the certain networks.  Personally, my personality on Twitter is different from how I am on Facebook, which is totally different than how I act on LinkedIn.  On Facebook, I’m a complete smart-ass.  On Twitter, mostly professional and I share a ton of links to great articles and resources.  On LinkedIn, I’m buttoned up and strictly professional.

You’ll need to combine that data on multiple platforms to get the big picture.  Also, remember that people and keywords are one and the same according to today’s search engines. Social media dominates at collecting data, but thus far it’s only been used to foster a closed system.

The Personalization Revolution

There are many tools out there that are aiding in this personalization revolution.  Optimizely recently released a new platform that helps you give your web visitors a better, more personalized experience.  Ensighten has a personalization engine that drives content delivery based on the context of the visitor.  Adobe has Target, which enables this, as well.  So does the Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

Marketing technology is getting up to speed; soon the search engines will be there, delivering you content based on the context of your search.  This will inevitably change some content marketing strategies for many companies.

Take It Personally

Todays’ page rankings aren’t customized – they’re standardized, for the most part.  Search Metrics recently released its yearly report on search ranking factors.  Definitely check it out for more clarity on what is working right now in your part of the world.

When you are logged into Google, depending on a few factors, your search experience in your location, may not be the exact same search experience as mine in Kansas City, Mo, USA.  There are many factors that currently drive page rankings.

For example, if someone queries “cool” in Google, Google doesn’t know if the user wants recommendations on air conditioners, advice on how to get popular, or to see the weather forecast.  The results are standardized given the limited customized data available.  If the page rankings get personalized, the results will be a better match.

Have Strictly Contextual Relationships

From a business perspective, it can mean finding the most useful lead – or not.  It’s context that will get us to this point.  Context-rich tech is already making its way into the market, such as Crystal Knows and Charlie.  And a newcomer to the scene is Broad Listening, which is a platform that listens to your tweets, and gives you a personality score, based on several algorithms.  Artificial Intelligence is empowering personal relationships.

Google’s getting there too, of course.  They just acquired Timeful back in May.  However, before we fully arrive at this next step, we need three things: Maximize network intelligence, create profiles that work on every platform universally, and get to know users on a semantic level.

Are you in, or does adding context to the search mix sound a little too Big Brother-ish for you? For me, the pros just might outweigh any cons.