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Just over a year ago that Google announced the launch of its Universal search model, and in 2008 it started to take form, transforming the way we see results displayed on search engine result pages. This has created a lot of excitement and a buzz within the online marketing industry as it marks a new phase in search marketing which takes into account not only web results but different forms of online media.
As with every new technology it is paramount that we first understand it in it’s totality before we start running around like headless chickens in an attempt to be the first to implement.
Universal search might be a new concept however its constituent parts have been around for quite some time. Google has over the past few years has been developing its vertical search products like book search, Google shopping and maps etc which delivers to users other forms of media than simply textual search information. Many of these products have been acquired by the search giant (Youtube, Image America and Blogger) or incubated in the ‘Google Lab’. Many of these products are yet to see the light of day and the few that have, have so far been relegated as links in different places on the Google search engine.
Some of the more well known vertical search products from Google are;
Each of these products can be seen as independent search engines but with a focus on either a particular media or subject. If you go to Google Images specifically and type in any keyword, the search engine will display results that only contain images. Like wise the case with Froogle (Google Shopping), books, maps and the others. Although brilliant in their individual capacity, Google struggled all along to get them a user base similar to its text based search engine and eventually decided to go down the route of Apple Inc.
As we know after the success of Ipod a number of other products have been subsequently launched of which a large number are interlinked with the Ipod in some form or the other. Similarly some bright spark at Google, came up with the idea of integrating all of their vertical search products within its main search engine and in a single stroke breathed life into its vertical search as well as set in motion a change that will transform search trends in the future.
Now for many keyword searches on the main search engines like Google.co.uk in the UK we get a range of different results. Here are a few examples of ‘Universal Search’ results. For the purpose of illustrating this subject we have outlined a few ‘Universal Search’ results below taken from our own client examples where ever possible.
Keyword results for “Harry potter books” bring up products from Google Shopping
Google has appeared all along to want to “organise the world’s information” and provide users with the most relevant information possible. With that in mind they developed the text based search engine that uses highly complex algorithms to deliver results that best match a user’s search query. Google have now taken another big step by integrating information from other verticals into its general search results thus making search a whole lot more interesting for both users and marketeers.
To find out more on how Universal Search can be beneficial to your business contact the author who is a director of Mediarun Search Limited.
Author: Anant Swarup
Head of Strategy & Planning
Date: August 2008
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