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18 September 2018
Google Launches Activity Cards In Mobile Search
Ever since the dawn of the internet people have been looking to curate content, Google has done a great job of helping us find, and categorise content by search terms but creating personalised experiences and exploring content is why social media has done so well. Favouriting, liking, upvoting or pinning content for current or future use is now a stable user feature for plenty of popular sites.
Bookmarking has been a staple of internet browsers while video hosting sites like YouTube and Netflix insist on helping you pick up where you left off because they realise the value of these progress markers are when it comes to user engagement.
Life and the internet is a pretty distracting place, and when you're doing something online, you can easily have your attention diverted from the task at hand. A simple phone call or text can be all it takes to have you forget your place or simply find you're not that interested in the task anymore. Sites realise this, which is why they do everything to try and keep our attention that much longer, even a second extra improvement in views is enough to drive massive revenue at scale.
Which is why Google has now begun to try out a bookmarking tool they call activity cards.
Picking up where you left off
Just like your days with your high school crush many users take to Google for a quicky. They need an instant answer on a fact they are unsure of or would like to settle an argument with a friend over dinner, nothing says dinner etiquette like let's Google it and see who's right, is there? Wouldn't be helpful to have search bookmarks if you Googled these answers a few days ago?
You might be looking for information throughout the day, at work, leaving the gym, sitting on the train commute home like reading about a new series or book you would like to try. Odds of you coming back to that search after you've reached home is very thin and hoping to retrace your steps can be frustrating. So wouldn't search bookmarks help you continue to learn more about a topic or discover new, related ideas?
Google realises that this type of user behaviour is highly prevalent and to help users out on their continuous search journeys launching new activity cards will help you pick up where you left off.
These activity cards are very similar to the saving search results feature Bing released two years earlier
An example of how Activity cards will work on a mobile device
How Google Activity cards work
If you’re logged into your Google account and search for topics and hobbies like cooking, interior design, fashion, skincare and beauty, fitness, photography and more, you may find an activity card at the top of the results page that provides easy ways to continue your exploration.
Activity card features include:
- You can find links to pages you’ve visited in the past along with searches you’ve done. You can then quickly click back to that workout plan that you tried and loved, or re-issue a search to discover new facets of that topic.
- You can also mark a page to read or reference later, all you need to do is touch and hold the link. This action will quickly add items on your activity card to a collection.
- You can access your collections by tapping the menu on the top left of the Search page (on mobile web), or through the bottom bar of the Google app.
- You can control what appears in your activity card by pressing to delete an item or turn off cards by tapping the 3-dot icon.
- For more options to customise your Search experience, you can access your full history and settings right in Search.
Why don't I see Activity cards in my search results?
As with most things Google they love to do a phased approach and collect data before rolling it out to the rest of the world and Activity Cards is no exception. The Activity cards feature will roll out this month on the mobile version of Google and the Google app in English in the U.S.
Having the ability to curate your search results is a game changer, it encourages content bias and improved personalisation of search which will make the first contact with a site vitally important. If you do not offer the superior user content and ideal mobile user experience, you will quickly become marginalised, and those who become preferred sources will receive not only the bulk of traffic but return traffic too.
Users will also be encouraged to deep dive into topics, and we will see, and improved number of long tail and semantic keyword use so creating multiple variations on themes and content is going to be essential for sites looking to keep activity card users engaged and coming back for more.
How to save items and review activity cards
How will activity cards affect search results?
I think Activity Cards will drive higher impressions for search terms as users can now re-run searches easier than before, it will also start to make the search results more dynamic as users continue to feed Google data for personalisation and no two users search results will ever be the same.
Activity Cards will make mobile SEO even more competitive and user rankings even more unpredictable.
Brands that rely on mobile traffic will need to look at incorporating AMP pages into their mix, app deep linking or a superior mobile experience if they want to get preferential treatment by Google and naturally by its users.
I also think that Activity Cards will see a boost in the number of searches performed which improves revenue based on impressions for mobile ads served in SERPs but and at the same time will improve the relevancy of click-throughs over time. My final prediction would be that sites listed in top search results for mobile should also see a spike in return traffic and assisted conversions via mobile search organic and paid traffic.
So what do you think of Activity Cards? Have you used them? Are they helpful? Let me know in the comments down below.