What if I told you that the future of SEO didn't include Google? That might sound crazy, but it could just happen thanks to a well-funded, San Francisco-based startup called Relcy.
What is Relcy?
Relcy is an app-based search engine founded by entrepreneur Rohit Satapathy.
The team behind Relcy has been working in stealth mode for months, and has successfully raised $9 millionin venture capital.
The idea behind Relcy is to index and rank the content stored within apps on your phone, giving you the ability to search content across all your apps, which the major search engines, like Google, can't access.
How Relcy Works
Without divulging the deep detail on the inner workings of their groundbreaking project, Satapathy talks about how his team has built a knowledge graph of millions of entities within all manner of applications. They then use a technology similar to PageRank to score the entities for ranking.
All of this is supported by a linked knowledge graph comprising hundreds of millions of real-world entities, with richer data quality and better accuracy in supporting predictive computing and search. For a user this means one single search bar or entry point to seamlessly search and browse through the content inside apps (like they do on the web) — and going straight into the specific results inside apps.
It sounds like Relcy has some sort of mobile app crawler that extracts and categorizes data from an apps into entities. It then maps the relationship between entities, creating a graph. Then an algorithm looks at citation signals across apps to determine an entity's importance.
For example, if you downloaded Relcy and gave it access to your apps, it will probably index all the pictures you've taken with your camera, discovering those pictures from your trip to Italy last summer.
At the same time it can crawl your Twitter or Facebook timeline to see if you've talked about Rome, or shared images from your Rome trip. Those mentions may act as citations to those images, passing some sort of ranking value in the same way links pass PageRank.
Of course this is all speculation at this point, as Relcy isn't even available for public testing yet; however you can request early access on their homepage.
I must say, it's ambitious of them to think that they beat Google at its own game using inspiration from PageRank and the Knowledge Graph.
What Does it Mean for SEO?
App usage continues to grow. According to Nielsen the time spent per person using native mobile apps almost doubled from 18 minutes to 30 minutes in the fourth quarter of 2013 alone.
If startups like Relcy actually deliver on their promise of better mobile search, expect to see Google lose its vice-like market share grip on mobile search. With that will come the need for new SEO KPIs, reports, and tools. And with thatwill come the need for new research, new SEO point of views, and new best practices.
Depending on how much content continues to be available on the web vs. native apps, we could see a virtual reset of SEO, where all the old ranking signals and tactics get replaced with a new set of SEO techniques exclusive to apps.
Is Relcy the Next Google?
You can bet that Google's startup acquisition team is watching Relcy closely. They'll need to make a decision on whether they can do what Relcy is doing better themselves, or if they should open their wallet for another billon-dollar acquisition.
What's even more interesting to me than a Google-led acquisition is whether Apple will try to scoop up the startup. After all, Siri is one of Apple's strongest footholds in search, yet it lacks the ability to search in-app content. I could see a Relcy purchase as another means for Apple to expand its search presence.
The third option is for Relcy to resist all suitors and go for an IPO. It wouldn't be the first time a, "late to the party" search engine ousted the market leaders.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. There have been numerous companies trying to displace Google, including the software juggernaut, Microsoft, yet the Google brand has proven incredibly resilient as its tentacles run deep in consumer lives.
So rather than declaring Relcy the next Google killer, we should instead look at companies, like Relcy, who are trying to bring innovation and competition into the native app-search landscape.
Whether Relcy succeeds, or Google squishes them like a bug is unknown, but one thing that is certain is we're going a heightened level of activity in the space, and that will undoubtedly lead to changes to how we do SEO.
Is this Good or Bad for SEO?
Are you ready for SEO to change once again? Will a change like this be good or bad for SEO?
Can you see in-app search stealing market share from web searches, or will Google just roll out its own version and continue to dominate search for the foreseeable future?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.