As a search engine optimization specialist, I am often asked questions that relate to ranking and placement in Google. I also field a lot of questions in regards to Google Local, and from some of those who really have a grasp on things, questions relating to Google Universal. In light of that, I thought I would take some time this month to share with you exactly what Google Universal is and why you should even care.
So what is Google Universal?
Late last spring Google underwent one of the most radical changes to its search results thus far and introduced an entire new system know as “Universal Search” or “Google Universal.” This new search system is unique in that it now blends listings from a variety of media. So instead of your search just returning results from the traditional web pages, these results will now include listings from its news, video, images, local, maps and book search engines as well.
According to Google, this new search model offers users a more integrated and comprehensive way to search for and view information online. “Our focus has always been making our users’ search experience as simple and straightforward as possible,” said Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience at Google. “The ultimate goal of universal search is to break down the silos of information that exist on the web and provide the very best answer every time a user enters a query. While we still have a long way to go, today’s announcements are a big step in that direction.”
In order to truly understand importance of Universal Search, one also needs to understand what a “vertical search” is.
Vertical Searches – What are they and how does it fit with Google Universal?
To start with, a regular search, or “horizontal search” would be when you go to Google, Yahoo, MSN, or any other general search engine and search across a vast range of information and material. In your results Information for a horizontal spectrum of topics is presented such as sport sites, news sites, shopping sites, etc.
A vertical search is different in that it allows you to slice downward through a single topic area. For example, this type of search would allow you to search only within the news sites, or only within the shopping sites. A vertical search is beneficial in that it can often times provide the searcher with more relevant results.
The majority of internet users however are unaware of the vertical search resources that are out there. For a long time Google has offered a variety of vertical search services, Google Local is one of them, but they have often gone unused. To change this, Google developed it’s Universal system. Now Google is hitting several of its vertical search services all at once and then bringing back those results to blend in with “regular” search results.
Here is a list of the vertical search services Google provides:
2. Blog Search
3. Book Search
5. Code Search
11. Patent Search
12. Product Search
15. Web Search
What’s The Big Deal…How Does This Impact Me?
So you still may be wondering why this is even important and what effect does this have on you personally. Well first, you will be among the many that will benefit from seeing better, more relevant search results when cruising the web. Second, this will have a significant impact on your website marketing strategy in the upcoming years.
As Google continues to move forward with its Universal Search system, an increasing variety of media formats and file types will appear in the search results, along with the traditional web page content. We are already seeing this happening with local listings (Google Local) and video.
In the example listed below, you will see that the local results for dental schools, near New York, NY are mixed within the traditional web page results.