Who would have thought that an e-commerce giant would offer health advice?

Amazon’s latest partnership with the NHS enables Alexa to give guidance on health queries based on information from their website.

Google, for a long time, has been the gateway to the web. Even with new entrants, it’s still the most dominant player. However, the way we search, and the information provided to us, is actively changing.

No longer do we need to type our query into a search field.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can do this on our behalf, through a simple voice command.

What’s even more interesting, is the diversification technology companies such as Google and Amazon are introducing.

Moving away from just being a search engine or an e-commerce platform, into companies providing us with hardware, software and tailored content.

Being discoverable via search is invaluable. When we look at search optimisation, it’s the rules set by Google, which creates a precedent.

A cynical part of me has always wondered if Google has created a system and narrative around SEO. Where all experts are indirectly modifying the web to how Google requires it. In order for their widgets and AI to work effectively.

Resulting in organic traffic dropping to websites and users receiving information and better user experiences through Google’s products only i.e. Google shopping, SERP widgets, Home responses etc.

If you look at how the search giant operates, this isn’t as farfetched as it may appear.

Google’s game

Search engines create a central point which contextualises all content on the web in relation to a query. SERPs (Search Engines Result Pages) would take the user to where the content was hosted.

Google is changing the game.

Widgets mean users can discover answers to their queries through interactive elements on the results pages.

Type the word ‘flights’, and Google will present a flight search which uses the content and search power from travel operators.

Users no longer need to visit a travel website to search for flights:

Image of Google's flight search widget

For products, we can buy directly from our search results via Google Shopping. Even the type of content being indexed is changing. The written word was once the only type of content which would be recognised by Google’s bots.

Now, Google has started to index podcasts, enabling content creators to double-down on this format.

The changes have occurred not just because of the wealth of information available. But is driven by the devices Google themselves are creating and selling to customers.

They are changing the way we discover and digest information.

Search can be accessed via an AI-powered assistant on an app, or through  Google Home.

The power and opportunity a link-up like this can provide, means technology firms are creating their own versions of hardware, software and algorithms.

Shaping different user experiences.

This vertical integration of media and consumer electronics has resulted in a new breed of technology companies.

Changing our perspective of the web

Apple, Microsoft and Amazon have invested in their own devices and AI. Impacting on the way we engage with technology and navigate the online world.

Mobile tech has resulted in content being digested in new ways. Companies offering exclusive material as part of their offer.

The opportunities of owning not only the medium, but the content, and in Amazon’s case, one of the largest e-commerce stores, has created something more than just an online platform.

It’s an eco-system.

Considering how rapidly these companies are expanding and owning large parts of our digital lives, it is within their interest to ensure their eco-system is watertight.

End-to-end ownership.

An approach which was once seen as archaic and limiting when Apple introduced it, is now seen as the way forward for many media and tech businesses.

Look at Netflix, HBO and Disney with their streaming services, and the rights to who can use their material.

If you own the content, the product and the device used to search for all of this, then you don’t need another entity.

Even social media platforms have diversified to become their own eco-systems. The merging and acquisitions of platforms such as Instagram and WhatsApp have supported Facebook’s growth.

Facebook has invested in its own marketplace, newsfeed, virtual reality hardware, games, payment system, providing its own internet access, as well as its own digital currency.

It is far more than just a social media platform.

The internet is no longer just a collection of webpages, but a convergence of multiple eco-systems operating online.

Welcome to the eco-system era

We need to change the way we look at our online presence. Google, Bing or any other search engine, are just one channel that we need to be active in. To be part of this eco-system we must have a suitable website.

However, through the growth of online activity, technology and media providers have created their own spaces.

Each with its own set of rules and requirements.

To participate, we may need an app, an online micro store (eBay or Amazon) or dedicated native content for a platform (podcasts/videos).

Our audiences and prospective students are participating in each of these spaces.

It’s our responsibility to establish and maintain a presence within each of these sandboxes.

Because, quite simply, the digital landscape is constantly changing…

Let’s not put all our eggs in one basket.

Share your thoughts

What do you think the future of the web looks like? Have you seen any trends which could change how we approach digital? Let me know in the comments below, or tweet me @CJPanteny

See you next time.

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