Universal Search recently come to be the most widely talked about topics in Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Google is, once again, a culpable party in this increased publicity. Ask was among the first search engines to introduce universal search, and a number quickly followed suit. It was not really until Google released the same aspect to its search portfolio that the online marketing industry stood up and took notice.

What is Universal Search?

For years search engines indexed textual web pages. When a surfer searches using a particular keyword a list of web pages that are deemed relevant to that topic are displayed. Search engines for many years have only shown textual pages because that’s all they are capable of indexing. General search looks at much more than just the text on a page to generate its results. Images, video, blog posts, and news articles are one of the results now displayed.

Universal or Blended Search?

Ask 3D is referred to as universal search since it shows a separate list of results for each of the different media and page types. Google Universal in comparison is more of a blended search since it mix together all the results into the now-familiar list of 10 results. These new search portals mean a new dawn of search for the average web user. The same is also true for marketers. Website owners encounter challenges and possibilities.

- Challenges may arise for pages that previously had ranked well in search engine results. It is possible that those pages would have now been pushed down the results by video, images, blog posts, and news items.

- The challenge will be to create such a rich variety of content, and to optimize the resulting media for the search engines’ benefit. It may mean more work, though the harsh reality is that it is necessary work for the astute webmaster that wishes to traverse the search engine results.

- Of course, possibilities exist for those that are willing to do the work. Video clips are remarkably easy to make and need not consist of more than a merchandise being used, or a designer talking about the biggest benefits of a new product. Add some audio, and edit the images, and you have a video clip ready for universal and combined search.

There are many other aspects of optimizing for universal search. Ideally you recognize that you have to produce, optimize, and market all the media types that your customers, visitors as well as search engines will respond to. Be optimistic. Don’t look at this as more work on your part, yet as a new opportunity to develop richer content and explore brand new marketing avenues. As you create brand new content in various media types you will be setting yourself up for the long term and building a sustainable, searchable infrastructure that will help keep you going way into the long run.

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