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People Search Next: Google’s Predictive Search Feature

Published on 21 February 2023 - Updated on 24 July 2023

By Andréa Bensaïd

Founder of Eskimoz. I support companies of all sizes in their digital acquisition strategy.

Launched in February 2022, Google’s new People Search Next feature purports to anticipate what Internet users are going to search for next. Mainly rolled out in the U.S. for now, it is worth wondering how it will influence positioning in the search engine result page.

In any case, Google’s predictive search feature is a great step towards the American giant’s 2022 objectives – namely to focus on user intent. This is an important factor in search engine optimization, and it implies a more strategic SEO approach, based on the quality and relevance of the content.

What Is Google’s Predictive Search Feature “People Search Next”?

How Is Google’s SERP Organized?

3 Main Categories of Google Results

Google’s SERP – or Search Engine Result Page – is divided into three main categories:

  • Organic results – the websites selected by the algorithm based on their relevance.
  • Sponsored results – the websites that pay to get displayed and are ranked based on their cost per click, number of clicks, relevance, and competition.
  • SERP features – the websites that Google extracts to enrich the user experience and which are featured in highlighted areas. Google’s predictive search feature People Search Next is one of them.

Google SERP Features

Over the years, Google has added to its search result page in order to offer increasingly precise results for its users. In its quest to understand the users’ true intent, the search giant has developed features that users have come to know and love:

  • Rich Snippets provide additional data in 8 different categories: reviews, recipes, businesses, music, events, applications, consumer goods, and people. This feature doesn’t influence a website’s ranking directly, but it can do a lot for its visibility.
  • Universal Search offers supplementary results from areas such as images, videos, news, etc.
  • Sponsored Results are paid Google Shopping or AdWords campaign results which can take up to 4 spots at the top of organic results.
  • Knowledge Graphs show up as charts, maps, or panels. They appear when a search has to do with a place, a brand, a celebrity, a film, etc.

How Has People Search Next Impacted the Web Since February 2022?

The People Search Next Feature in the United States

Google’s predictive search SERP features currently include “People also ask” and “Related Searches” (at the bottom of the page). As of February 2022, “People Search Next” has been contributing to this approach.

In an attempt to steer users towards other queries they may not have thought of, Google makes new search suggestions that follow up on their first search. With an unlimited supply of fresh statistics, Google suggests (through autocomplete suggestions) new search queries based on what similar users do, for a tailored user experience. Autocomplete predictions allow users to search Google using search terms they wouldn’t have thought of, but that perfectly reflect their intent.

Spotted in the United States, on mobile, and with queries in English, Google’s predictive search feature People Search Next is still being rolled out. Once this initial phase is complete, the new feature should make it to Europe, over the next few months or years. One thing’s for sure, it won’t stop at local queries but should be extended to every type of search.

A Genuine Risk for Some Sites in the Future

People Search Next is a tool designed to help guide Internet users so they can find answers to their questions quickly and easily. Even though this feature hasn’t reached all of Europe yet, SEO experts need to prepare if they wish to minimize its impact, especially on high-traffic websites. In areas where the competition is already fierce, it will indeed generate:

  • Less room to rank on the first page of Google. The SERP will surely have a dedicated zone for People Search Next results.
  • Less traffic, as the new feature allows users to navigate from one query to another without having to access the actual sites to find answers to their questions.

How to Change Google’s Predictive Search Features?

You might be wondering how to change Google’s predictive search features and whether people are likely to prefer opting out. For now, it is possible to manage Google’s autocomplete features from the control panel on Google Chrome. This is also how to delete predictive search on Google altogether, from the user’s perspective.

As a website owner, you can also get information on how to change Google’s predictive search features and how to delete predictive search on Google’s SERP if you want to have your site removed. This can happen if you have a legal issue with the prediction, for example. Google has a form that you can fill out for that very purpose.

Google’s Predictive Search Features Are Rolling Out: How to React?

Creating New Content for People Search Next

There is no official date for when we will be able to use Google’s predictive search feature People Search Next in Europe, and we have few elements at our disposal. Still, it’s best to be as ready as possible to avoid being impacted negatively when it rolls out.

At this stage, we can already assume that Google Search aims to get its users to remain on the search engine for as long as possible. Thus, there’s a risk that certain sites will be unfairly penalized in favour of those with a lesser volume and that rank well within their respective segments.

In any case, a more strategy-oriented SEO approach will be preferable. Just like “Related Searches”, this feature should encourage you to come up with relevant content, that will help you rank for queries with a high search potential. At Eskimoz, we strive to keep an active watch on your sector to identify and implement the right strategy.

Carrying Out an SEO Audit to Come Up with the Right Strategy

With People Search Next, high-volume website won’t have as much space to stand out from the competition as they used to. It is essential to analyse what is currently going on in the U.S. to better anticipate the impact of the new feature, which is likely to be similar in Europe.

In parallel, Eskimoz’s advice is to carry out an SEO audit to identify your website’s strengths and weaknesses, come up with high potential content, and launch a suitable – almost prognostic – strategy to welcome Google’s predictive search features serenely.

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