With the onset of Universal Search, Search engine technology is constantly evolving as search engine companies deploy, purchase and implement new technologies into the world of search. Universal Search has changed the landscape of many online businesses as an entire industry around search engine optimization (SEO). Understanding how search engines work and using tactics and strategies to provide companies an advantage in their online presence has become big business.
Search engines do not publish how to manipulate website content in order to rank well in the search engine results pages (SERPS). There are many traditional SEO tactics and techniques that produce consistent results (i.e. link building, keyword density), for success in the world of universal search, SEOs must be creative and understand that there are many other factors that have an apparent impact on ranking.
Google is undertaking the most radical change as to how it produces its search results, and has gradual integrated a mechanism of universal search in its search results. Universal search blends results from its many online products and services, including things such as:
- Google News;
- Google Video / YouTube;
- Google Bookmarks;
- Google Analytics; and
These are only a few of the sources of data that Google has direct access to when determining the results it will display on its SERPs.
With universal search comes a new facet of understanding what takes place during a search – universal search indicators. SEOs must be wary of the many other elements of data that companies such as Google has direct access to. Just looking at the massive amounts of data that can be collected from these online services and from things such as Google Desktop, Google Toolbar, Google Chrome, and Gmail. Combining this with the surfing habits and search behavior of users, Google has potentially at its fingertips an endless amount of “universal search indicators” that it can analyze when a search is performed and make decisions that impact the results displayed based on these universal search indicators.
Using these universal search indicators, search engines can make a determination as to what a user may see as valuable search results, rather than basing the SERPs entirely on the perceived authority of a page because of manipulation through traditional SEO tactics and techniques.
Should SEOs and webmasters deny that this is a trend in the world of search would be somewhat naive. Google in particular has indicated that it wants to provide the best user experience available. In fact, in a post on the Official Google Blog, it was stated:
With universal search, we’re attempting to break down the walls that traditionally separated our various search properties and integrate the vast amounts of information available into one simple set of search results.
Thinking that Google will not access and utilize the growing amount of universal search indicators that it has available makes little to no sense at all.
What does this mean for the future of SEO? How will this impact what has traditionally taken place for strategic internet marketing?
With the integration of these universal search indicators into SERPS, content will definitely have to enhance the user experience. Sites seen to having users bookmark, share, read, interact and utilize as part of their online activities will begin to rank better. Traditional SEO tactics and techniques such as link building will not disappear, but the search engines will place a lesser value when determining importance of the page being returned. The use of visual content such as video, Flash and images that contribute directly to the user experience become more important as standalone elements, rather than as a mechanism to illustrate associated text content. Interactions with social media and networking sites will allow users to have direct input into what is deemed important.
As more and more of these universal search indicators become embedded into the evolving world of universal search, internet marketers and SEOs must adapt and adjust their approaches to optimization. Attention must be given to the user experience, and how users will interact with the results produced from search.