It seems every time Google makes a change to its search engine the world takes notice, and why not? Google is the biggest search engine on the planet, so if Google does make a change to even the smallest algorithm it uses, everyone should sit up and takes notice. Google revealed to the world its new Google universal search on May 16, 2007. What Google claimed it would do was integrate, no the correct term they used was ‘weave’; the new Google universal search into the existing Google search engine. First things first Google universal search is not a major change in any algorithm, or in no way means that the criteria in which search results are displayed has changed. So if you are search engine optimizer you can heave a sigh of relief (at least from the algorithm point of view).
So then what is Google universal search? Well the name is pretty self explanatory, what Google plans to do, is bring you pretty much everything associated with a keyword when you look for a particular keyword. For example if you were to type in ‘Steve Jobs’ in Google, you will notice there is a search result from You tube displayed among the web results. This is just the beginning of what Google is hoping to achieve, what Google is planning to do eventually is this: for example when you type in ‘Ferrari’ in Google, there will be a photograph, a new article, and if possible a video of a Ferrari that shows up on the main page of the Google search. In either case, the intended idea is to bring not just web results that are link based, but truly multimedia rich results like images, videos and even recent books that are based on the keyword or person you are searching for.
Today June is coming to an end, and still only a handful of keywords are actually showing what the Google universal search wanted to achieve, as mentioned earlier in the article instead of making a 360 degree switch in the search engine, Google has chosen to slowly update and integrate the Google universal search results with the existing algorithms and search criteria it is running, from what I can see, it might be quite a while before the impact of Google’s innovation the Google universal search (or GUS as it is being called) will be felt.
Currently Google indexes over 220 different formats like HTML, PDF and Microsoft office extensions, if you notice sometimes the keyword you search for actually brings up a PDF document as a search result. In fact just type in ‘press release pdf’ in Google and the first page results are all pdf files. This is just a taste of what Google universal search hopes to do by including multimedia extensions in its search results. As is the case with almost all new innovations with search engine technologies, Yahoo too has launched oneSearch which on the surface looks similar to Google Universal search. However I feel Google is already a step ahead of Yahoo as Google’s results are actually relevant and they are based on their importance (as they should be), where as Yahoo oneSearch actually offers the first video or image that is associated with the keyword, irrespective of its importance to the keyword.
Impact of Google universal search on SEO
To be absolutely honest it’s still a little early to comment on how Google universal search will impact search engine optimization, there has been so far, a negligible change in the way search results are being displayed, and although I personally find Google universal search a very intuitive innovation, I am yet to see any concrete side effects of it on Google search results. However it would be foolish to assume that Google universal search will have no impact on search engine optimization at all, at the end of the day its simple maths, there will still be the same number of page one slots available on Google, this would mean that there will eventually be fewer slots available for web links, as videos, images and news results will start using up more space on the search results page.
So in essence search engine optimization will eventually get a little more competitive, but the question is how much more competitive? Will it be a case of a 100 contenders fighting for 2 slots, or a 100 contenders fighting for 9 slots, no doubt in the world of search engine optimization every page one slot is important. As it stands only time will decide the overall impact that Google universal search and similar technologies like Yahoo oneSearch have on search engine optimization; as for now the best thing to do is keep yourself updated with the latest developments and to keep constantly working on your search engine optimization techniques.
Rishi Modi – Certified SEO Professional