2019 Google Search Changes and Digital Marketing Must Adapt

Last updated on May 6, 2019

2019 Google Search Changes and Digital Marketing Must Adapt

Google Search Is Changing

It should come as no surprise that Google wants to continually update its search capabilities to meet users expectations for accurate and fast search results. In an effort to help meet that ambition, Google announced late last year the next evolution of its search capability, “Journey searches”.

During Google’s 20th anniversary celebration in 2018, Google gave a glimpse of how search will be changing in the near future. Although there are three areas outlined, as reported by Yoast, the changes Google discussed really support one fundamental theme of ensuring its users have the best customer experience possible while using their search engine. As we all know, Google makes a lot of money on search, Google Adwords, Google Re-targeting, selling page space, etc. Thus, ensuring it’s users get perfect search results is of the upmost importance Google. 

Journey searches will be the start of a new era for digital marketing and social media marketing professionals. If you’re in the business of selling a product or service, you’ll want to read this article because it’s always fascinating stuff when Google makes search engine changes!

Google "What Is The Temperature Today In Raleigh, NC?"

Presently, Google search works by giving a direct answer to a users query. For example, If I ask Google “What is the temperature today in Raleigh, NC?” Google responds with the following answer which is very precise. 

Raleigh Web Design

There is no doubt that my question has been very satisfactorily answered. But is that the end of the story? Google could give me so much more if Google knew WHY I was interested in Raleigh’s temperature.

Switching From Search Answer To Journey Answer

Google’s desire is to switch search results from simple “Answers” to more of a “Journey” answer. By utilizing artificial intelligence, Google wants to understand the “Search intent” of the user. What does the user really want to know beyond their simple search? By piecing together information, Google hopes to give you all the information you need to make a decision.

How Does Google Journey Search Work?

Google Journey search works by understanding all the small pieces of a users search history and with the help of AI, tries to piece together the journey the user is taking. 

For example, let’s say I am planning a trip to Raleigh, NC to attend the Raleigh WordPress Boot Camp 2019 conference. I have never been to Raleigh so I naturally start formulating trip ideas with help from Google search. 

I might first start by registering for the seminar. Google now knows I’m coming to Raleigh on a certain date. What if I leave the computer to grab dinner and come back the next day to search more about my trip to Raleigh, NC? 

Let’s imagine I do a search for things to do in Raleigh on the date of the conference. Since Google knows I’m heading to Raleigh on a certain date, it’s safe to assume I need a hotel room. From a journey search perspective, Google could possibly show me hotels near NC State University. If Google knows I like to stay in Marriott hotels, Marriott comes up first on the list. Google remembers I like to eat Sushi. As I query things to do, Google could assume I might want to see the best sushi restaurants near NC State University?

So, even though I didn’t directly type in hotel rooms or sushi, Google could piece this together to make sure my user experience is positive by helping me along my “Journey” to visit Raleigh. This is in contrast to simply waiting for me to ask specific questions as I think of them such as “Best sushi restaurant in Raleigh”.

Neural Matching And Google Search Journey

Digging a little deeper, it’s really all about neural matching. Neural matching per Ben Gomes, SVP at Google, 

“We’ve now reached the point where neural networks can help us take a major leap forward from understanding words to understanding concepts. Neural embeddings, an approach developed in the field of neural networks, allow us to transform words to fuzzier representations of the underlying concepts, and then match the concepts in the query with the concepts in the document. We call this technique neural matching. This can enable us to address queries like: “why does my TV look strange?” to surface the most relevant results for that question, even if the exact words aren’t contained in the page. (By the way, it turns out the reason is called the soap opera effect). 

Google Search Now Aligns With Digital Marketing Principles

Interestingly, the changes in Google search also correspond to the digital marketing and customer acquisition phases of cold, warm and hot customers and the process of bringing them along the buying journey. Just as digital marketers try to help move people along the path of a buying decision, Google wants to help move people along the path of a search or decision-making process. The two sound pretty similar I think! The fact that it is similar means there is a natural overlap evolving between what Google wants and what digital marketers can help deliver. What I mean by this is Digital Marketers can help Google users to move along the journey search while simultaneously planting the seeds for customer acquisition.

New Opportunity For Digital Marketing

As we point out in the article, Google can now “Visualize” all related content that supports a search query and can pair this with Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven “User intent”. The result is a switch from providing simply “Search answers” to providing “Journey answers”.  Journey answers will allow Google to be more engaged with the user by predicting what the user really wants to see in addition to the original search query.  As you can probably already imagine, this creates a new opportunity for digital marketers to help Google deliver the right information to its search users. 

Page Rank And The Customer Journey

Going forward, digital marketers will need to be more like chess players and think a few steps ahead of the customer to keep consistent page rank with Google. To do this, web site owners will need to switch their thinking from “What is the optimal keyword strategy” the better question “What is the journey of the customer” or “Where are they in the buying process?”. Implementing these questions into social media marketing and digital marketing will help to define where the customer is in the journey and help to get the right product message to them.

Page Rank Relies On Web Design, UX Design & Page Speed

As we have discussed in other blog articles such as “The Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing”, Google relies on web design, website optimization, Google page speed, and UX design to help deliver great content. Moving forward, digital marketers and business owners will want to get ahead of the customer journey search and create web designs with content that helps the user in the journey versus simply answering their questions.  

The switch to journey search ultimately will play out in page rank and how much visibility your company will get on Google search results. As a natural result, by helping Google make searching easier for their users, Google will reward you with higher page rankings. 


As Google switches from “Search” based answers to “Journey” based answers, there will be a great opportunity for digital marketing professionals and business owners to get ahead of the curve and start preparing web design content to answer Journey based questions. Can you think a step ahead of your customers and how they may need your product? Their first search queries may not be what you think.

This will blow your mind! Just think about this for a minute.

As Google search evolves, the ability for Google to really understand the “Search intent” of the user could actually result in your website being listed in the Google search results page without a matching reference to your keywords contained in the content of your website!

What Do You Think About The Customer Journey?

Tell us your thoughts below and how you see this changing how you interact with your customers.

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Jennifer Ray
Jennifer Ray is the creative director and founder of Redwood. She is an expert at custom web design, WordPress development, digital marketing, UX design, local SEO, branding & graphic design. With 20 years of experience, Jennifer brings an unmatched level of expertise to her clients in the Raleigh & Wake Forest area.

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