The Evolution of Search Engine Behavior and Use 

Search engine behavior has evolved with search technologies. From digging through shelves at the library to the first online search engine, Archie, released in 1990, to the birth of Google in 1998, the way we find relevant information is changing rapidly.

Throughout the years, one thing has stayed true. You won’t get far without writing and posting relevant content.

How AI changed the search engine behavior

What started as a mathematical equation that prioritized links and their content has evolved into a system that is much more complex. In fact, as Google and other search engines advance, people and machines can no longer run them. An average of 63,000 search queries occur each second. To keep up with this demand, search engines rely on Artificial Intelligence (AI). 

AI powers search engines and enables them to understand the intent behind the search. Knowing why a user searches a certain query can deliver more accurate results.  

AI has made it possible for search engines to personalize results based on a user’s search history and location. By analyzing a user’s past search behavior, AI algorithms can provide more personalized recommendations and search results, which improve the overall experience. 

The Influence of ChatGPT

You may have heard of a little piece of AI named ChatGPT. But how are people using it as a search engine? Let’s hear it from the source itself. We asked ChatGPT if people are using it to learn and search for information. Here’s what it had to say: 

“Yes, people are using Chat GPT to learn. As a language model trained by OpenAI, Chat GPT can provide users with information and insights on a wide range of topics, including education, technology, business, science and more. 

Users can ask Chat GPT questions and receive informative and accurate answers, making it a useful resource for learning new information and gaining insights on various topics. Chat GPT can also provide personalized recommendations and suggestions based on user preferences and search history, making the learning experience more personalized and effective. 

Overall, Chat GPT is a valuable tool for those looking to learn new information, explore new ideas, and expand their knowledge base. With its ability to provide accurate and informative responses to a wide range of questions, Chat GPT can be a powerful tool for both personal and professional growth.” 

Although there are quite a few limitations, chatbots can be a useful tool for things like generating ideas for social content, planning vacations, writing code and composing emails. 

Search engine optimization (SEO)

Websites content creators adjust strategy alongside algorithm changes. With 50% of Google users clicking their search results within nine seconds, you want your content to be one of the first results on the page. That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play. SEO is an important part of developing a digital marketing strategy.

SEO is the process of auditing and improving your website to increase visibility in search engine results pages (SERP). Optimizing content with related keywords and phrases is an important component of SEO. This strategy gets your content ranking high in searches.  

Programs like Semrush identify top-performing keywords and search terms to optimize your website content. The more you optimize your content, the greater chance it ranks higher, which then brings in more clicks. In a way, SEO is a tactic where you’re predicting search engine behavior.

As search engines become more intelligent, relevancy and quality of content will be top factors. This extends beyond traditional search engines like Google and Bing. Today, people optimize their lives with search. Content creators need to meet them where they are – whether it’s a blog related to your brand or a video shared on social media.  

Using social media as a search engine 

An estimated 4.48 billion people use social media worldwide, and it is quickly becoming a search engine of its own. In fact, 40% of Gen-Z prefers searching on TikTok or Instagram over Google. This switch in user behavior ultimately changes overall search engine behavior.

With billions of users, YouTube has also evolved into a search engine. Its own search function allows users to search for videos by keyword, video title, channel and other criteria. Users can also use advanced search filters to refine their results by upload date, duration and quality. These filters make it easier for users to receive personalized results and discover the content they are searching for. 

Rather than watching the news or digging through websites, users discover information on social media through a few clicks. Additionally, the content is broken down into short videos and captions, making them easier to digest.  

Each social media platform has an algorithm that determines how people discover new content. It detects what kind of content users interact with and provides recommendations. Like internet search engines, keywords impact the discoverability of content.  

Hashtags are another way content is discovered and categorized. Accounts that use hashtags see increases in engagement and brand awareness. 

However, there are disadvantages to using social media as a search engine. Getting your news on social media comes with the risk of false information. Unofficial news sources do not go through the fact-checking and editorial process that official news websites do. Also, stay vigilant when using social media for information to avoid falling to a scam.

Image search and voice search 

The popularity of social media and the introduction of new technologies has led search engines (and user behavior) to evolve beyond typing in a string of keywords. However, visual search is an even newer search method.

Multiple methods of visual searching exist. For example, you can scan preexisting photos and analyze them for related content. Or, users can take photos of themselves (or each other) with their smartphones to search for products and brands.  

Approximately 50% of people in the United States use voice search every day, and 71% of consumers prefer it. As of 2022, Google Lens is used approximately 8 billion times a month. It continues to rise in popularity, with 62% of millennials wanting visual search over any other technology.  

Alexa, what’s the weather today? Hey Siri, where’s the closest gas station near me?

Chances are, you’ve used voice search, maybe without even realizing it. Voice assistants (like Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri) use AI to interpret user queries and generate relevant search results, without the need for users to even lift a finger. 

Overall, AI and social media have significantly impacted how people discover products and learn information. This directly influenced how search engines evolved, from instant results to image, voice and video search. As AI technologies continue to learn, they will deliver people more accurate, personalized and efficient results.