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Content parity and the future of search

Friday, February 15th, 2013 by Dave Colgate

Cross device contentHow many years is it going to be before we’re telling a ‘home management’ app that we’re going to be late home from work and we want the coffee ready for 7.30pm rather than 7.05pm? We’re getting close to being able to control temperature and even lighting remotely in our homes and as more modern controllers and energy saving methods become more affordable to install, so will the technology that enables us to remotelycontrol them. The Web is how we’re likely to control these functions remotely.

The Internet is going to be the backbone of everything we do – at least that’s my belief – there will be no escaping it. It will link everything to everyone providing real time information on almost anything. This goes for data and how we consume that information too. As much as I find the prospect of these changes exciting the important aspect for us search marketing folk is how our audiences’ content consumption behaviours are going to change as the technology they use does.

I read an interesting article recently by Karen McGrane called “Windows on the Web”. She spoke about these changes and how content parity is going to come more to the forefront of our minds the more technology continues to push forwards. How will behaviour change as we switch between devices? Google’s Chrome has already managed a good head start on this by allowing a user to login to their account and save what they are navigating in their browser tabs to be opened again on another device with no disruption to service.

We can already see these changes starting to have a significant impact now – HTML 5 and CSS 3 allowing far easier and bridging cross platform compatibility through responsive design for mobile. But what else is going to be possible?

What if I start reading an article on my computer in the office, which I then switch to my phone as I leave  the office, which I then have read to me in the car, which I then finally complete reading on my TV at home once I’ve made that coffee.  Soon the search marketing spectrum will not only cover a few digital vehicles but many, perhaps including optimising content to be found by various other platforms such in car systems and Internet capable televisions.

This process of completing tasks on different devices is going to impact how consumers behave when it comes to search, therefore Google and other search engines are likely going to change the way their products behave to reflect the new usage. In turn, this is going to impact how we as search marketers optimise content, site architectures and the rest for multiple devices, multiples tasks and even task parity.

As well as optimising content for the multiple platforms and dealing with the different technologies that will allow seamless content consumption we’ll also be tracking the data. Cross device tracking is tricky as it is, let alone increasing the volume of devices involved in a single search. Analytics data will have to evolve with this behaviour to meet the demand from marketers to more accurately track usage from device to device.

One way of doing this could be through logged in accounts in a browser. As mentioned Google is already doing this well with Chrome, but we’re also well aware as an industry of the problems their logged in privacy policies cause us for tracking some search metrics. It will be interesting to see how this evolves as the content parity problem does too. How do search engines, in particular Google, expect Internet specialists like ourselves to increase the quality and discoverability of content without having access to the information that tells us how people are finding that content.

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About the author

Dave Colgate

Dave Colgate

Dave came on board with Vertical Leap in 2010 with a strong SEO and web development background, having worked on Content Management Systems and eCommerce websites. With a creative flare, Dave combines his knowledge of design, usability and SEO with advanced technical skills for a broader view of search that achieves great results. Follow me on Google+