Top Universal Search Influencers

    June 11, 2007

To recap, Universal Search is a term coined by Google in which results from different vertical search engines (images, video, news etc…) are integrated into Google’s regular search results.

But when will these different search results show up? For example, what causes a video of a presentation by Steve Jobs to appear within the organic search results for the query: "Steve Jobs" Obviously it has to do with Google’s sophisticated algorithms which can correlate the right content to a user’s query, however here are some factors that I think can help influence the Universal Search results:

  1. Number of Searches per Individual Search Silo – This theory is based on shear volume for a given query on a given vertical search engine. For instance if the query "scenic mountains" has a high number of searches within the image search, perhaps this influences the top images to appear within Universal search for the same query.
  2. Performance through ratings and views – This applies mostly to Video Search because on YouTube and Google Video both ratings and the number of views are kept track of. Could the ratings/views affect the appearance of videos with Universal Search?
  3. Clicks per listing – Google applies this same type of algorithm on both AdWords and organic search results therefore it’s something that can help Google gauge the relevance of non-text based results.
  4. Time Spent – With the Google Toolbar installed on so many users’ computers as well Google Analytics installed on so many websites, Google can start to understand how engaged users are with a website (after a user clicked on a listing) by measuring time spent.
  5. Return Visits – If a user clicks on a result listing, visits a website/image/news listing, returns immediately and clicks on another listing and continues this cycle, will Google start decreasing the quality of the websites/image/news listings that were selected?
  6. Usability – While at Searchology I found out that Google performs rigorous usability testing using eye tracking to further understand users’ search behavior and reactions to different types of search results.

Google and are both heavily involved with perfecting Universal Search and as search marketers it will be important for us to help our clients create relevant content which is not necessarily just text anymore.