Growth Of Mobile Search “Like Seeing My Second Child Grow” Says Google Search Chief At #SXSW

Amit Singhal

The growth of mobile search is like seeing a second child grow up. SEO isn’t bull. The knowledge graph, speech recognition and natural language are search’s biggest challenges. And, he really, really likes Star Trek. That’s just some of what the head of Google’s search efforts, Amit Singhal, shared when talking at SXSW today.

Singhal is senior vice president and a Google Fellow who oversees Google Search. He spoke during the “The Future of Google Search in a Mobile World” keynote at the SXSW conference in Austin today.

The session didn’t stick just to mobile search — that was probably a tweak made because Singhal was a last-minute replacement for Android chief Andy Rubin, who, until a few days ago, was set to talk.

Why Rubin disappeared was never explained, though Singhal joked about being Rubin and having worked on his tan. Singhal was interviewed by entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki. Perhaps Kawasaki’s recently becoming an advisor to Google-owned Motorola was seen as too much of a conflict to have Rubin remain?


I live blogged the session, and you’ll find the complete live blogging further below. But, here are a few highlights I’m adding quickly. Sorry for the typos and rush, but I have to dash off to another meeting.

Mobile Search: “It was like my seeing my second child grow even faster” — Singhal on rise of mobile search, seeing a whole new flow of queries come out of nowhere and grow alongside desktop search.

SEO: Want to rank on Google? Have good content, says Singhal, “you don’t need to worry about anything else.” That prompted Guy to ask if SEO is bull. Amit said no, “that would be like saying marketing is bull.” He added that SEO can help enhance good content.

Search A Partnership With Content Owners: ”Having humanity’s knowledge on the Web is not enough. You have to understand it,” he said. Then he told a nice story about an African potato farmer helped by people sharing knowledge on Web, giving Google the content in order to rank it.

Facebook Search: “I think time will tell if people really need that kind of search.”

Best Of Times For Search: Talking about the growth of knowledge databases, new content sources and new devices allowing search everywhere, he said, ”In my perspective these are some of the best times in search … tomorrow’s looking bright”

He Loves Star Trek: Amit spoke several times about wanting to build a Star Trek-like computer, how Star Trek inspired him as a child growing up in India. Asked if maybe some don’t get Star Trek references today, he said, ”For those of you who have never watched an episode of Star Trek, please go do that.” He later said he’s never met William Shatner, would love to do so “as long as he doesn’t sell me a hotel room.”

Biggest Search Challenges: Amit said there are three big search challenges: knowledge graph, speech recognition and natural language — to improve all of these things — but that they are all farther along than he would have expected 20 years ago.

Bing Attack Ads: As for Bing attack ads, see our separate post for his comment about that: Google On Bing Attack Ads: “Others Should Focus On Building Good Products”.

The Full Live Blog

The live blogging is below:

Related Topics: Channel: Other | Google: Web Search | Live Blogging | Top News


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • Siva Ganesh

    Any videos links available ?

  • Tim O’Keefe

    Good SEO, Just do good content. Is like telling a wanna be pro football player, just work out more. Devil is in the details eh?

  • William Leake

    Love it how Google always tries to convince people that the way to rankings success is a) create “good” content, b) roll over, and expose your belly to Google, c) hand them your knife and d) trust them. Fortunately they do far better in “D” (the trust department) than the house that Zuckerberg built … Thanks for getting this summary up so quickly, I’ll just point my team here rather than writing up my notes from the session. I did think Amit was essentially confirming “Yes Google + activity helps w/ rankings” by the way he was evasive …

  • PlumbSearcher

    I feel that you media guys give too much attention to big powerful multibillion behemoth companies while smaller more innovative and more active startups do not get deserved attention from you.

  • Andrew Futcher

    Let me put this in a way (some of) you will understand…
    Good Content != Writing Articles; Good content === ‘Relevant’ content;
    Make your website highly “relevant” and you will get fantastic rankings…

    It is a pity that most SEO’s these days don’t know really know what relevancy really is/means. ^_^ Never has the adage “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” been more true for the SEO industry than it is today…

  • Harsh Bawa

    Although I didn’t watch the conference, I am pretty much sure that it was a success.

    Mobile searches have grown tremendously in the last couple of years and we are sure it will overtake traditional desktop searches in a few years.

    As far as his catchphrase “tomorrow’s looking bright” is concerned, it relates to search. There are hardly any new content sources. The one’s which used to dominate the market are still dominating it.

    I am not sure how “tomorrow’s looking bright” for Google. Perhaps some one can give an insight?

    Facebook search results- Yes, we all need that thing.

    Obviously Facebook knows what results to diplay inside facebook rather then what Google knows.

    I think he was sounding more evasive in his approach and answers.

    Any one agree with me?

  • totnuckers

    I don’t

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