An Introduction to Universal Search

Gone are the days where organic or paid listings were all you had to worry about. We now are in the times of Universal Search. Google coined the term Universal Search as it’s culmination of search methodologies. “It’s essentially the largest revision we’ve made in the past two or three years,” Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder and president of technology, tells TIME magazine. Yahoo, Microsoft Live, and Ask have also implemented similar results into their organic listings. Some of the results you might find are:

  1. Image Results
  2. Online Video
  3. New Results
  4. Blog Listings / Results
  5. Book Listings
  6. PDFs
  7. Local / GEO Search Listings
  8. Traditional Web Search
  9. Product Search
  10. Catalog Search
  11. Movie Search
  12. Music Search
  13. Map Search
  14. Health Search
  15. Celebrity Search
  16. Job Search
  17. Recipe Search
  18. Financial / Stock Search
  19. People Search
  20. Comparison Search

What Does This Mean for Search Results?

Search results now are seen different by users. Eye tracking studies have been conducted by companies like Enquiro that track eye movement on search result pages. In the past, with Google search results, the hot spots of the search results page formulated an eye pattern of the letter “F”, also known as “The Golden Triangle,” that was positioned in the upper-left corner of the organic results. Now with Universal Search we have seen this pattern start to change. With thumbnailed images and video incorporated into the results, the “F” pattern has morphed into an “E” pattern. (SEE IMAGES BELOW)

Golden Triangle of search engines

E-pattern of search engines

This means Universal Search has had a dramatic impact on how we scan the page. With thumbnailed images being put in the limelight you might just steal that click away from the #1 positioned organic result if you have an enticing and relevant image. Have a sticky page for that user once they come to your site via Universal Search and you’re in. Typically, Google will keep a header bar on top of your page if they came through Google’s image search, but find some JavaScript to remove any framed bars from referring sites and you don’t have to worry about sacrificing aesthetics or your carefully crafted and positioned messages being pushed below the fold.

Are the Search Results More Relevant Now?

While that has yet to be determined, my humble opinion is “Yes.” It’s now easier to find what you’re looking for right off the bad. When conducting a search for “Britney Spears”, a fan may not be looking for informational articles or news but may be looking for enhanced media instead. Integrated YouTube music videos as well as thumbnailed images of Britney Spears combines the right mix of information, multimedia, and news results for that particular query.

Are Internet Marketers Taking Advantage of Universal Search?

Yes, but not as much as they should be. Internet marketers underestimate the traffic potential they can bring to their site by search engine optimizing their multimedia content. With proper naming conventions, accessibility attributes, and unique characteristics all embedded on a Web page with relevant content encompassing the enhanced media the traffic results can be well worth the efforts.

Not only do internet marketers now have to promote their Websites but they have to promote their content as well. In addition, links to images, videos, and syndication on various social platforms is the key to Universal Search success.