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TikTok and Amazon enhance search capabilities – A threat to Google?

In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, major tech players are continually striving to improve their search capabilities to cater to the demands of their users. In recent developments, both TikTok and Amazon have made noteworthy enhancements to their search functionalities.

Both developments pose a threat to Google’s dominance in the search industry. The company has acknowledged the shifting dynamics in the search landscape. Prabhakar Raghavan, the SVP in charge of search at Google, acknowledged last year that platforms like TikTok and Instagram are increasingly influencing user behaviour.

Raghavan noted, “Something like almost 40 percent of young people, when they are looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search — they go to TikTok or Instagram.” This acknowledgment underscores the evolving preferences of younger demographics and the importance of brands to keep up to date with these shifts.

TikTok’s expansion into search

TikTok has been quietly diversifying its search results, signalling a significant shift in its approach. Historically, TikTok primarily displayed its own content in search engine results pages (SERPs). However, the platform has now introduced Wikipedia snippets into select search results, marking its first foray into providing users with information from the broader web.

 

The inclusion of Wikipedia snippets was initially spotted by The Verge, although TikTok did not make a formal announcement about this feature. Users may find these snippets wedged between relevant videos as they scroll through in-app search results pages.

This move by TikTok reflects its intensified efforts to compete in the search arena. A recent survey in the US indicates that a majority of Gen Z women now prefer TikTok over Google for their search needs, raising questions about Google’s competition in this space.

Wikipedia snippets are currently available for searches related to people, places, and events. By clicking on the links within the snippets, users can access different sections of the corresponding Wikipedia entries, offering a richer and more informative search experience.

Is Google fighting back? TikTok is also testing the display of links to Google search results within its internal search results page. These links, denoted by a Google logo, are accompanied by a disclaimer stating that TikTok does not endorse or take responsibility for the Google search results displayed.

While it remains unclear whether this partnership between TikTok and Google is a mere test or the beginning of a broader collaboration, it suggests Google’s efforts to maintain its position in the face of TikTok’s growing popularity.

Amazon’s search advancements on mobile

Amazon is also making significant strides in the realm of search. In an effort to compete with search engines like Google and Pinterest, Amazon is launching a range of new search and discovery tools for mobile users:

  1. Multimodal Search: This tool allows users to search for products using both text and images. For instance, if you need a replacement part for an appliance, you can take a photo of the part and include a text description, making it easier to find matching products.
  2. Expanded AR Features: Amazon’s augmented reality (AR) capabilities, initially focused on visualising furniture and decor, have expanded to include smaller items such as lamps and appliances. Users can now use AR to visualise and rearrange smaller objects within their spaces.
  3. Find-on-Amazon: This innovative tool enables users to search for products using photos from various sources, including social media, web browsing, emails, and online chats. By sharing an image with the Amazon Shopping app, users can find visually similar products even if they lack descriptive information.

Additionally, Amazon is introducing other improvements, including the display of sales trend data next to listings and an enhanced way to search for previously purchased items.

These enhancements signify Amazon’s intent to capture more product searches and potentially redirect search traffic away from Google. As Amazon closes in on Google and Meta in digital ad spending, these updates may have broader implications for the digital advertising landscape.

An Amazon spokesperson emphasised the company’s commitment to enhancing the shopping experience and gathering customer feedback to refine its features.

In a world where digital search is paramount, these developments from TikTok and Amazon underscore the ongoing competition among tech giants to provide users with more robust and diverse search capabilities.

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