TikTok is becoming a major player in the search business, and Google is responding by bringing some new features to the world’s most-visited website. In order to counter its rival’s aesthetic appeal, the Mountain View-based company is making its search results more dynamic while simultaneously bringing attention to some underutilized tools.
The new Google search will integrate content from the company’s Maps, Images, Translate, and Shopping divisions. When users look up a store, for example, its hours and address will be pulled from Google Maps and displayed as an autocomplete option. As seen in the image to the left, the multimedia information will be displayed as cards.
By adding visual and interactive results to its search engine, Google is looking to fend off one of the strongest challenges its flagship product has ever faced. The tech empire has ruled search since the days of Altavista, Lycos, and Dogpile, but it recently admitted that TikTok has cut into its traffic.
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“In our studies, something like almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search,” Google SVP of Knowledge & Information Prabhakar Raghavan said in July. “They go to TikTok or Instagram.”
TikTok has implemented changes to make its platform a more useful search engine. Its recent decision to increase the maximum length of video descriptions allows creators to add more keywords to their content, thus improving the overall quality of TikTok search results.
Google has countered that development by letting zoomers know that it also has features they might enjoy. The company’s redesigned search will help visitors do their homework, identify songs, and translate snippets of foreign languages. Those may not be the most famous utilities in Google’s arsenal, but they serve the Gen Z consumers who have turned TikTok into a cultural phenomenon.
YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok content will occasionally appear in the reimagined results. Short videos have appeared in Google searches since 2020.
“We definitely know that there is a class of user who really does like the results that they see on TikTok,” Google VP and GM of Search Cathy Edwards told TechCrunch. “I think part of that is just because TikTok has reduced the barrier to entry for content creation, so there’s some really good content there. And we are looking at more ways to bring that into our search results.”
Consumers have criticized other tech companies for adopting layouts inspired by TikTok, but Google is looking to mitigate those complaints by only applying its new design to certain search results. The company said that travel-related searches will surface the new array. Restaurant queries are another logical use case.
TechCrunch noted that Google is planning additional updates that will further integrate TikTok into its search results. The details and timing of those updates have not been made public.