Universal search is here. Regular Internet users are enjoying it without even noticing that sometimes, along with the normal text results, they see links to news stories regarding their query; related images and videos; and even blog posts and books about what they were searching for. This is what universal search is about. It brings results in all different shapes and forms, thus making the life of a searcher easier.
Would that simplify the life of an SEO expert? Of course, not – everyone will have to become wiser about using optimization and link building techniques for not just textual content pages, but also for videos, images, blog posts, press releases, and books. We now need to expand our skills and be able to optimize external pages and objects that will eventually bring us traffic and leads. We need to expand our expertise to other fields and fight for rankings with all these forms in the SERPs (search engine results pages).The competition now isn’t the first ten places of text results on the first page. Now, it might be just four or six text results, plus image, news, or video results.
Other search engines besides Google are trying universal search. Yahoo’s cool-looking Alpha Beta is a strong competitor. Live.com and Ask.com are implementing universal search as well.
The SEO implications of universal search becoming the standard will turn out to be even more complex, because of its influence on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Universal search means fewer paid clicks and more value in organic results. It might also mean no more cheap clicks for PPC newbies. Now every paid click would matter when this advertising space decreases in size, because non-regular search results will draw more attention since PPC will just be text. This will again increase the natural search competition. For example, video search results (actual videos in the SERP, which are sometimes playable) are catching the searcher’s eye much better than text results. So if your keyword is good for searching videos, there’s a good chance that video results will appear along with normal search results. In this case, try doing some video marketing, which I wrote about here and here.
When products from commercial sites appear in your search query results, you need to make sure those products are yours and not your competitors’. If there are books in the search results, try to see if you can get your link or your ad on the page of that book. Or write a book or buy the rights for one, and make sure it ranks high for your keyword in the universal search results, to make sure you get all that traffic.
Press releases and news stories are even more complicated as they are the most time-sensitive. You need to act fast and actually get mentioned in the news pertaining to your field.
As a general advice: study the search results of your keywords and if it’s a universal SERP, see what you can do to outrank each search results category: Videos, images, news, blogs, shopping, books, and local maps; and even codes, patents, and stocks if possible.
Hope this helps your SEO endeavors in the universal search era.
Internet Marketing Manager
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