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Google Universal Search Results Showing Up More Often
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
I spent the past week or so avoiding looking at any Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). The reason is that I earn my living looking at search engine results pages on a daily basis and I needed to step back to allow my perception of the results pages to refresh itself. You see when you look at a Google or Yahoo or ASK or Windows Live Search results pages day in and day out you begin to overlook any subtle changes that the engines make to their results pages.

So I was excited to return to the office this morning expecting to find entirely new SERPs for all of the search engines save ASK (because they already have a cool SERP). However after completing a few queries in Live Search and then in Yahoo, no such luck. Same old same old... what no aesthetic changes to the results pages? I left Google for last with the expectation that the Google SERP was going to appear just as it did last week when I used it. After a couple of queries it was status quo... and then I began to do some queries for a few of my client's "money" phrases. I was a little surprised at what I found in Google. For almost every query that I performed I found multiple Universal Search results throughout the top ten listings. In the past for these queries I would often encounter one or no Universal search results for the same queries. This may be a coincidence but today I was receiving multiple Universal search results for a single query.

More Google Universal Search Results to Come?

From Google News listings to video results I was seeing multiple Universal Search results listings. Could this coincide with the fact that it has been reported that Google is ranking "newer" content higher in their results? Possibly, but I think that Google is experimenting with more "major" changes to their results pages. Contrary to what Marissa Mayer from Google has stated about "Universal Search results being rolled out slowly", we may begin to be seeing more and more Universal results in Google.

A few weeks ago, we at Enquiro held a webinar on the future of search in 2010. The webinar featured some of the leading figures in search marketing and user experience who met for a one-of-a-kind interactive event to discuss the future of search. One of the main topics of discussion was blended (aka universal) search results. Representatives from the major search engines all mentioned that we can expect to see more blended results in 2008. The one participant who was the least vocal about this topic, in my opinion, was Google's Marissa Mayer. At the time I thought to myself that when Google is quiet about something, it usually means that they are ready to make an announcement or roll out some new changes to their products or services. Could this be the fact that they are rolling out more frequent universal search results such as news results, blog results, video results, image results etc? From the queries that I performed today (and there was a number of them) it appears that Google is in fact displaying more universal results.

Three Reason Why Google Should Display More Universal Search Results

Here are a few reasons why I believe that Google will begin to display more Universal Search results.
  1. Competition is Pushing Towards more Blended Results - all of the other main engines have expressed a need and goal towards incorporating more blended search results into their results page. Last June, ASK took a very aggressive step in launching their new ASK 3-D interface. They by far have the most interesting SERP in the business and as their relevancy continues to improve you might just see ASK gain a few percentage points in terms of market share. You can bet that Google has already taken note of the cool ASK results page.

  2. With Personalization Comes Universal Search - When you factor in user intent, the ideal search page for me may not be the same for you. An ideal search page may mean a unique search results page for each and every user. Some users may prefer and expect video results combined with traditional text link results, other may prefer the classic text links, while others may simply want to see articles and blog posts. With a truly personalized search experience the frequency of Universal Search results will need to vary.

  3. Google's SERP is boring and they know it - time and time again Google has said it's results page is all about substance and relevancy not flash and imagery. Well if that's the case, what happens when the best result for a user's search query is an image, or a video or a news article? Yup you guessed it a Universal Search result would be the answer.
I would expect the Google SERP to continue to display more Universal Search results in 2008 and beyond. Frankly I think that ASK is years ahead of everyone else in this area. It's only a matter of time until Google adopts a similar feel for their "results page".


posted by PlanetNim Caretaker @ Wednesday, January 02, 2008  
  • At 7:59 AM, Blogger Sebastian Lewis said…

    You seem to take a liking to Ask3D, the thing is though, it's results are poorly formatted.

    I found myself constantly going up and down between the 2nd and 3rd column while the first one was only in the way because I don't want to refine my query until after I've had a chance to look at the results for my first query.

    Google does this usually by having suggestions at the bottom of the list which makes far more sense because if I don't find what I'm looking for, then why not refine it? I tend not to buy much besides software and music online as well both of which I seek out myself so I can easily ignore ads in Google's "second column" and all the results are in the main results column. This is ideal because I don't want to go up and down a page to view results and I tend to browse in a linear fashion.

    The only annoying part about Google is the fact that the suggested search results bar (where it says Video, Images, Patents, Books, and other verticals depending on the query) isn't consistent across all of Google's search engines. Its only on the main Google Search and if I click on Video or something the other suggestions will disappear from view and I'm stuck with either command clicking the links to another tab or using that damn back button, neither is particularly elegant.

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