This whole universal search thing from Google

I think I need some of the Google experts to explain this to me. After reading the interview John Battelle did with Udi Manber -the guy looking after Google Universal Search I remembered I had an email from Dave Davis to answer. I’d asked him some of his thoughts on this whole area. I’m actually getting bad at emails these days and if they are not answered right away I forget about them quite quickly. Anyways, back to the main topic of this post.

Jeff Jarvis talked a bit about universal search here and said:

Until now, you structured your pages and metadata in certain magical ways and — if you were hip — got yourself linked a lot by linking out a lot and — voila — you rose into Google heaven. Now you have to figure out how to put some Google helium into your videos and photos and news headlines — all of which can now appear on the blessed search-result page.

And you also have to figure out what people get when they click on those things: where are your brand, your ads, your links? If you distribute your stuff onto more sites out there — if your video becomes a hit on YouTube and on bloggers’ embeds — does that get it higher on Google? What does this do to destination and portal strategies?

Right. That got me thinking. So if you’re doing stuff now, it might well worth be considering working harder on your videos and photos and so forth and they will show up in the main result pages? Or begin to start doing videos. Would a video with a few tags get to the front page above a well SEOd page? Anyone know how well videos ranked compared to pages?

My biggie though is this: Say you are 9th on Google for the search “banana in pyjamas”. Now with universal search, they find some videos that match that and stick them in 4th or 5th position. I assume you are going to get bumped down the list and your coveted 9th place is now 11th or 12th and with it a big drop in traffic. Is this how it will work, or will you still remain in 9th spot and the vids are stuck on the page too but not in an actual placing? Are they packing the pages more into the same page?

If not, how in the feck are you going to climb that ladder once again, especially if you have to get back on the first page with 10 other ultra-competitive sites?

Actually “banana in pyjamas” turns out to be a good example as a YouTube video is 3rd above the Wiki and IMDB entry. Would have thought they’d rank WAY higher than the vid. So what are the opinions of my well-educated readership?

Edit: Some stats on the effects of Universal search.

Ah screw it, here’s the vid :)

2500 people have subscribed to my website instead of coming back each day. You can subscribe to the site using a feedreader or email. I'm also on Twitter. My online marketing blog might also be worth a visit. Thanks for visiting - Damien.

3 Responses to “This whole universal search thing from Google”

  1. Eoghan says:

    “…how in the feck are you going to climb that ladder once again…?”

    Any discussion of the whole ‘universal search’ thing and its potential impact on search engine rankings should also take into account the ongoing and parallel shift towards personalisation in search. With personalised search the search engine (for logged in users) analyses over time your searches, what results you choose to click through and so forth to build up a better idea of what you are looking for. On the basis of all this it serves up a set of results personalised to you and what it perceives to be your needs (for example it may work out from your search behaviour that you are a fan of royalty and so if you search for ‘queen’ it will then go and rank web pages for the Queen Lizzie higher than pages about Freddie mercury and co). A consequence of this is that the top ten results of a personalised search page may contain results that would otherwise not appear in the top 10, 20 or 30 results of a ‘vanilla’ non-personalised search result page. So while universal search may mean for a webmaster that some of his/her previously high ranking pages are pushed off the top ten page, personalisation may also mean that, for users getting personalised search results, other pages get a lift and end up for the first time in the top 10 results.

    “it might well worth be considering working harder on your videos and photos and so forth”? Honestly, except for the biggest, best resourced sites, I’d say ‘no’. Optimising sites for text alone is a toughie. Webmasters should play to their strengths – if your strength is text-based content, then keep focused on that. If you are not an expert in generating video- or image-based content then don’t even try. There will be 10s of thousands who will be better then you.

  2. Still 10 results per page (with default prefs) so your vid is going to push down that #9 spot. But something that might be relevant here is OneBox. That’s the box they sometimes show for local searches, stock quotes etc. You see it in the UK (but we dont get local search in Ireland – we’re not local enough I suppose). Now OneBox isn’t considered 1 of the 10 results so if you can get into that you would still retain the #9. I imagine you’re going to see more going into OneBox also.

    I think the main thing about uni-search is that it is more likely that Google is going to merge in video/images etc so there are going to be less ‘organic’ (text-based) positions left on page 1. The upside is that if you can get your images/vid optimised for your targeted phrase then you are probably going to rank far easier than competitive text-based results (until, at least, everyone cops on and starts optimising their rich media).

    [OT – I’d watch the video but YouTube is still blocked in Thailand)

  3. [...] pagina?), Google Universal Search, che analizzi anche contenuti come i video, le mappe. Diversi si chiedono come avvenga l’integrazione di diversi tipi di ricerca e contenuti, come verranno mostrati [...]