Universal search isn’t coming, it’s here. As searchers use their favorite search engine, they are seeing more than just web results. Movies, photos, news and much ore is showing up in regular search and you need to be ready.
Greg Jarboe of SEO-PR talked about how all the rules have been re-written and we need to learn how to use this to our advantage and watch it closely as it evolves. From a PR aspect, all press releases need to be optimized for search engines as they have a greater chance of showing up in the regular results that just a few months ago. Press releases also need to have pictures included as they can get picked up too. A quick search for Hillary Clinton on Google shows a few pictures that aren’t very flattering. Optimizing better photos could easily correct this, but not enough PR agencies are paying attention to the new universal search results. There are more items showing up than many people realize. Greg also stated that a blog post is quickly becoming the new press release in many industries.
Sherwood Stranieri of Catalst Online talked about videos. Whither it’s you, your competition or someone you don’t know, any videos uploaded to a video sharing site can easily be shown on page one of Google search results. Are they the videos you want to be seen? Also, what are the comments on those videos? The interaction of users posting their thoughts on the video should be managed just like comments on blog posts. It’s your brand, are you in control? Sherwood focused mostly on Google Universal Search as other sites like Ask and MSN are separating the media results from the search results where as Gogole is working on blending all results in one, easy to use, results page.
Bill Slawski of Commerce360 feels that universal search is evolutionary not revolutionary. He focused on more of the past patents and gave a bit of a more technical look on how he believes the universal search works.
David Bailey of Google feels that this update is business as usual and there is nothing to worry about. They are just giving the users more information so they get the best results. He also said that for customers to get their results on page one, use Google services to create local listing, videos and product feeds.
Tim Mayer of Yahoo stated that their goal is to have interaction within search results and not send users away to another page. For a hotel search, some photos or maps are inline, but hidden with a down arrow. Search for a music artist and you can watch videos without leaving your search result page. For a generic search, filters & products may show up at the top of the page to help the users find better, more detailed results.
Daniel Read of Ask talked about Ask 3D and their layout. It differs from Google and Yahoo’s layout by breaking out each media item in their own separate box and not putting everything within the results. Their goal is to get as much as possible above the fold and make it easier for users. According to their analytics and surveys, they’ve seen a large jump in user satisfaction. However, Ask is seeing a 30% drop in the users going to the second page of results. Daniel also feels that location will be taking a large part in rankings as people in one area won’t see the same results as someone 1000 miles away. The last item he touch on was the possibility that blog & video comments may take on a reputation roll in rankings. The more comments, the more authoritative the post may seem.
Knowing about universal search is just the beginning, going in and making steps to optimize all the different areas is where the industry need to be going. It doesn’t matter if it’s a brand protection angle, a search ranking or just searcher satisfaction, universal search is where all the major search engines are headed and something everyone needs to be optimizing for today.