<< by on May 21st, 2007
Last week, Google announced the launch of its new “universal search” — a new way to display search results combining image search results, local search results, news results and more in the organic listings. Google is showing previews of this new search on certain types of searches today (ex. Steve Jobs and Darth Vader). However, a search on one of these samples wtill unveil just what the problem with universal search truly is.
For example, a search on the term “Steve Jobs” yields the following result:
As the search result shows, Google perceives the images of Steve Jobs to be of greater importance than the organic website results about Steve Jobs. At the very bottom of the search results page are the news results on Steve Jobs:
In examining these results, in my estimation, the news about Steve Jobs would be more pertinent to most searchers than images of him. Shouldn’t news be the top result? I also noticed that the news results are “archive” result — not current news.
So who will universal search impact the most? Businesses — online, B2B, B2C — all types of businesses. Why businesses? Because businesses, for the most part, drive Google results — paid and organic.
Pushing More Advertisers to AdWords?
Since the launch of Google AdWords in 2000, search advertising, and the number of advertisers, has grown exponentially. With that growth, we’ve also seen more searchers clicking on the ads as they find more ad results relevant to their searches. Over the past seven years, the shopping engines, such as Shopping.com, have not grown at the same pace as AdWords growth, proving that searchers more and more have relied on Google to search for products and services.
But how will universal search impact products and services in the organic results? For certain types of keyword searches, the results should only be focused on the websites for the product or service — not necessarily images, news, etc. Images, news, and other items will only push down the relevent results further in the organic results area, similar to the treatment in the Steve Jobs example. Thus, a #1 organic listing on a term no longer will have the same impact as it does today as it will likely receive less clicks further down the page. Furthermore, results in lower positions (below position 4) may be “below the fold” (require scrolling) to see, as only organic results 1-3 show above the fold in the Steve Jobs example above, where position #4 may easily be “above the fold” in searches today.
In a further effort to be found, I anticipate that advertisers will try to increase position in AdWords — thus increasing bids — and even more advertisers may join AdWords as their organic results are less visible. What remains to be seen is how Google will treat AdWords ads that appear in the top left area today. I’ve not yet seen how Google may treat these types of ads.
My preference would rather be that, instead of Google determining FOR ME what is relevent, allow me to determine a) if I want to use universal search (similar to selecting personal search) and b) allow me to determine which results appear in the organic mix. If I don’t think images are relevent, let me opt out of images and show news first. Only time will tell how effective universal search will be, but if Google wanted to make search results more relevent, I’m not sure they’ll accomplish that goal with universal search.